Weekend Update 04.24.10–The Maltese Falcon Edition
The major story that unfolded in Silicon Valley this third week in April was fit for the silver screen. The divine screenwriter collected a cast featuring Baron VonJobs, Denton and his Gizmodo goons, and one well meaning–if tragically unlucky–software developer. Laws may have been violated, bribes were paid, and all over the seemingly golden prize that, let’s face it, we all would have seen in eight weeks anyway. There was passion, intrigue, corruption, and now, even the local detective is snooping around. The story was fit for Bogey and Bacall, and it doesn’t seem to want to end. Weekend Update hopes, for the sake of our unlucky software developer, that it does end soon. Not much chance of that though.
Kara stayed above the fray this week by opening up with a signature exclusive. She lunched with Ben Horowitz and got his take on why Andreessen dropped out of the race to fund Foursquare. Kara then got to look forward to some Bartz-baiting, as she prepared for Yahoo’s (YHOO) earnings call. It should be noted that Bartz-baiting is the official past time of residents of BoomTown. It turns out that Yahoo! did well this past quarter, even if revenues were still a little soft. Kara rounded out a solid week of reporting with a second exclusive that made use if her stealth-mode penetrating radar (we hear she had it installed back during the Reagan administration). She peeked under the blanket of Kakai, one of the Valley’s stealthiest startups and saw a Kindle for students. She couldn’t get much more, but we know that the company has a red phone to Chegg, the online textbook rental service, so the pieces are coming together.
John made it back from Europe this week, and now that the Volcano has settled down, it was time for Digital Daily to be truly daily again. Early in the week, John reported on the loss of some very important intellectual property by a tech giant. No, German beer was not involved. It turns out that the sensitive stuff hackers got a hold of during a recent attack on Google (GOOG) was the source code to their single sign-on system that interacts with all the Google-y services that seem to make the world go ’round. Tuesday, he reported the action as Apple (AAPL) trotted out its new, lengthier bank rolls on its earnings call. It was a good last quarter for Apple. Hopefully the unfortunate start to this one doesn’t get them down. John finished up the roller coaster week with a post about how it’s not just girls dressed up in animal ears that are huge in Japan. Apparently, so is the iPhone, which has now dominated near 75 percent of the Japanese smartphone market. Weekend Update expects it to continue to loom over Tokyo, at least until Mothra shows up.
Peter was still on baby hiatus this week, so Media Memo was a little sparse, but he managed to post a couple stories to tide us over until he returns in earnest. It turns out that Rolling Stone may be waking from its Rip Van Winkle-esque sleep and entering the digital age. And get this, they are going to charge for content. Tuesday brought news that blog platform Tumblr raised another $5 million from VCs. It seems that they aren’t done yet either. Tumblr will also be coming for the money of its users, with a monetization strategy that includes some of the usual suspects; pay premium service, virtual goods and the like. Peter finished the week with a point to ponder about the upcoming pay plans from Hulu. $10 a month seems to be the number filtering out of the reporter pool, but Peter wonders if $120 per year will be a little steep for consumers and a still not quite enough to pay for Hulu’s own bills. At least Tumblr can find comfort in knowing that even big businesses have trouble making money on the Web.
Walt reviewed the HTC HD2 this week in an attempt to answer the age old question, “How big is too big?” The device, currently on sale from T-Mobile, boasts a giant 4.3 inch (diagonal) screen. Walt didn’t think size was an issue, as the screen was nice and still portable. The issue came in the software and ease of use. It didn’t measure up to the big players in the market, and in the end, it doesn’t matter how big the screen is if you can’t use it for much. Mossberg’s Mailbox was headlined by a question about social games on the iPad, and Walt relayed the sad news that there would be no Mafia Wars on the iPad, at least not yet. He also demystified Apple TV, which even confuses Weekend Update from time to time. Katie finished up the week with a review of a new sort of service in the cloud. ICyte saves Web pages for later reading, even if the site changes or goes offline. It allows users to share these snapshots of sites, as well as spreading them around the social Web. Katie used the free version of the service, which is ad supported, and had good things to say overall, and thought it might be especially useful for people who do a lot of research online.
It’s been a long, stressful week for all of us here in the tech media space, and Weekend Update is going to sign off now and head over to our local watering hole for beer and some downtime with friends. As an added precaution, we’ve duct taped our iPads to our arms. Wouldn’t want to leave them by accident.