Here’s a pre-weekend roundup of the latest action:
1) Is the recession coming, or already here?
2) Jaman signs distribution deal with TiVo
3) Amazon buys indie film distributor Without a Box
4) Google probably intends to lose in 700mhz auctions
5) The “UltraBattery” has promise for electric cars
6) China on the verge of becoming largest internet market
7) But they’re worried their citizens game too much
8) Digg’s editing IlluminatiIs the recession on its way, or already here? — While we’ve been snuggled away in our safe world of private investing, Wall Street has been busy crumbling under the psychological pressure of a possible recession. The major exchanges all lost significant ground over the past four days, with the Dow dropping 306 points today alone, leaving it down 14.2 percent from its October high. That, in turn, brought comparisons to the catastrophic drop in 2001, just prior to the last recession. Housing starts also fell, and pundits are saying it’s too late for an economic stimulus package from Washington. But hey, Silicon Valley, look on the bright side — at least nobody will say it’s your fault, this time.
Jaman signs distribution deal with TiVo — Jaman’s catalog of independent and international films will be offered for direct download to TiVo users, under the term of a recent agreement between the two companies. Previous deals inked by Jaman include partnerships with TakeTV and DivX. See the full release here.
Amazon buys Without a Box, an independent film distributor — The Internet Movie Database division over at Amazon.com has picked up a Los Angeles-based film distributor called Without a Box for an undisclosed sum. The company helps independent directors distribute their films to hundreds of film festivals around the world. No official line yet on why, but it’s very conceivable that Amazon will soon be offering a plethora of independent films for download, a move that could conceivably compete with startups like, you guess it, Jaman. (via John Cook’s Venture Blog )
Google may be playing to lose in the 700mhz auctions — Google spent a lot of time and effort trying to impose its own guidelines on the 700mhz spectrum auctions starting in less than a week, going so far as to promise a minimum $4.5 billion bid. However, the company probably has no intention of bidding to win and will likely throw the auction to AT&T and Verizon, according to an analyst interviewed by PaidContent, who goes on to say that the winner “will likely implement the letter rather than the spirit of the open access requirements.”
Combined battery / capacitor could set new standards for electric cars — The “UltraBattery,” a project being run by the United Kingdom’s Energy Transformed National Research Flagship, is an energy storage unit combining a battery and a capacitor. It gets about 50 percent more power than conventional batteries, lasts four times as long, and a test car with one installed just crossed the 100,000 mile mark on a test track. More from ScienceDaily.
China is on the verge of becoming world’s largest internet market — According to a recent announcement by the Chinese government, its population of internet users reached 210 million at the end of 2007, a 53 percent gain on 2006’s year-end number of 137 million. At that rate, it’ll surpass the United States by the end of this month. As it is, only 16 percent of the country’s entire population has internet access of any type.
Next up: The Chinese government hates your gaming startup — Or, at the very least, there’s the potential that they do. The latest target is online gaming, with the government raiding Internet cafes, barring children from entering them and setting time limits on players. This is possible because a good portion of China’s internet users only have access through cafes.
Digg may have secret editors — Social news site Digg, where users supposedly have all the control over which news items make it to the top, actually has editors, says Valleywag. Aside from any sense of betrayal the users might have, though, this probably isn’t a big deal. The point of automation and crowd-sourcing is, at least in part, to keep costs down for startups, something that’s less of a worry for Digg these days. And, judging from the junk content that regularly reaches the top of Digg despite any secret editors, we could almost wish they exercised their powers more.