Round-up: Google acquisition rumors, Apple 3G iPhone coming

mid.jpgIntel bullish on mobile Internet handhelds: The world’s biggest chip maker said more than 25 companies have signed up to use its low-power Atom microprocessors in upcoming “mobile Internet devices” (MIDs). The new category of wireless broadband-enabled devices will combine the features of Internet-enabled computers and navigation units in a handheld, with the first devices appearing in late May and early June in China, South Korea, and Japan. The chips consume anywhere from 0.65 watt to 2 watts. That means they could be serious challenges to low-power processors from Arm Holdings, which has a virtual lock on processors for mobile devices and cell phones, making the so-called MIDs Intel’s Trojan Horse for an assault on the mobile device chip market.

iphone.jpgThe latest iPhone rumors: AT&T’s CEO dropped a hint once again that Apple will launch a 3G version of its iPhone on AT&T’s network within months. His second mention, it was enough to set off an argument among analysts about whether the signs of an imminent 3G iPhone introduction are iPhone shortages at Apple stores. Apple, meanwhile, passed Wal-Mart as the No. 1 music retailer in the U.S.

expedia.jpgGoogle acquisition rumors multiplied in the past 24 hours as word spread that it was going to buy travel site Expedia. Susquehanna Financial Group’s market intelligence team started the rumor. The consensus currently seems to be that it’s bogus, but we’re not completely ready to rule it out. Travel is a major vertical that Google hasn’t moved into yet, and back in 2005, there was some talk about Google starting up a travel site of its own that would tie into Google Maps and Google Earth. Travel e-commerce blogger Alex Bainbridge posted that Google had a high-level executive dedicated to working with Expedia from 2003-2007, and that Google may have developed Expedia’s search marketing program. Separately, TechCrunch reported that Google might buy the Skype phone service from eBay. Word is that eBay has been shopping Skype for months.

comcast.jpgBlazing broadband. How fast do you want your Internet access to be? Comcast has begun offering 50 megabits a second to some lucky people in the Midwest. That’s like a dirt road to South Koreans. But here in the U.S., it’s the Autobahn (and it only costs $149.99 a month). Sometimes I wish I lived in Hudson, Wisc.

bestbuy.jpgBest Buy beat expectations but saw a slight dip in its profits. The company earned $737 million in the March fiscal quarter. The electronics retailer’s earnings and its guidance for the fiscal year ahead were ahead of expectations. TV sales are expected to grow. But you can expect everyone will be watching closely to see if consumers get skittish about buying big-ticket items as a recession looms.

Games uber alles. Market researcher NPD Group reported that about 72 percent of Americans played some kind of video game in 2007, up from 64 percent of the population in 2006. Does this mean non-gamer dinosaurs are rapidly dying off? Of these, more than half say they play online games. The PC is the most common platform, with 90 percent of online gamers using it. Half of Xbox 360 game console owners use it to go online.

ds3.jpgGet ready to rumble. Sony said that it would launch a new controller for the PlayStation 3 with “rumble” technology built into it. Sony caught flack for not including the force-feedback technology in its latest game console controllers, but the company was still smarting from a settlement where it agreed to pay Immersion in a patent case. The new DualShock 3 controllers have motion-control in them and Sony will stop selling its Sixaxis controllers, which come without the rumble feature, once supplies run out.