Weekend Update 12.19.09–Last-Minute Shopping Edition


Kara covered three Web companies this week, two with very 2.0 names and one about as Web 1.0 as it gets. BoomTown caught up with Mark Pincus of Zynga, the social-gaming juggernaut, right after the company raked in about $180 million from private investors. She got into it with Pincus over those questionable “offer” adverts in the video. Kara was back on familiar territory with a post about AOL (AOL) this week. The rebranded company, which went public a little over a week ago after its spinoff from Time Warner, was still trading pretty much flat as of Friday. And Kara rounded it all out with an attempted peek at Google’s Christmas list. Google (GOOG) has reportedly been drooling over Trulia, the real-estate search site valued in the $150 million range. I guess we mere mortals will just have to wait and see if Trulia’s little green pin marks start showing up on Google’s maps.

Before signing off for the holidays, John managed to bring a week of business bah-humbug to Digital Daily. Apple (AAPL) finally poured the last of the concrete for Psystar’s “special shoes” by winning a permanent injunction against the Mac clone maker. The holidays are always stressful, and the seasonal tension has been heating up over graphics processing units between Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA). John posted a victory lap in the form of a memo from Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang addressing the recent lawsuit brought by the FTC against Intel. John rounded out the week with some somber news from Palm (PALM), as the smartphone maker released a larger than expected loss for the last quarter of 2009. It might be a lean year under Palm’s tree.

Peter reported that Prime Minister Burlusconi wasn’t the only one to get a black eye this week as Google took a major hit in Italian court over copyright violations on YouTube. Mediaset, a broadcaster owned by Burlusconi, is reportedly seeking at least $730 million in damages. No word yet if Mediaset will be demanding cash or the standard Ferraris and underage models arrangement. Also in big media news, Sony (SNE) and News Corp (NWS) struck a content deal that will now be delivered exclusively to Sony’s Readers. Peter reported that the deal wasn’t big enough to change the balance of power in the content-ebook world but was a clear signal about the future direction of the two companies. Finally, peter reported on Google’s apparent hunger for Yelp and all its delicious restaurant ratings. If the acquisition does happen, analysts expect Google to shell out at least $500 million for the right to add another amorphous noun-verb to its arsenal. We need a new part of speech to describe all these noun-verb companies. I’m coining one. From now on, Google is a “Nerb.”

Maybe it was just the anticipation of all that holiday fudge, but Walt was all over a new generation of glucose meters from Bayer. As the name suggests, the Contour USB offers an important departure from its predecessors in that it connects to your home computer to help you track your blood sugar in a more meaningful way. Walt dutifully pricked his finger several times a day to test the unit and pronounced it a welcome direction for the tool that serves millions of users daily. While software issues and Web connectivity are lagging a little behind, Walt was positive on the device, which seems perfect for the diabetic tech-head. Over at Mossberg’s Mailbox, Walt answered letters about really erasing personal data from a computer before donating an older machine. Readers were also curious about Open Office as an alternative to Microsoft (MSFT) Office for use on a netbook. Walt finished off his bit of pre-Christmas advice by confirming to a reader that Windows 7 could indeed be installed on an Intel-based Mac, just like XP. Katie covered a home stereo gadget that should make the post-Christmas lives of audiophiles a little merrier. The Sonos ZonePlayer S5 can send audio all over your house via your home network. This is the first Sonos product to work right out of the box. The player system gets high marks all around for usability, and is even able to play music form a networked computer’s hard drive, as well as various Internet-based music services.

Weekend Update wished everyone a happy holiday and will be back on Dec. 26 to bring you a wrap-up of all the techie holiday fun you missed while in your nog-coma.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus