DRM close to extinction on iTunes?

One of my key predictions for 2009 was that Apple’s iTunes store would go DRM-free. There are always a lot of Apple rumors out there, but I was so confident in this one that I actually made the prediction twice. It turns out that may have been a good call, as Apple and the major music labels have come to terms on a deal, reports CNET’s Greg Sandoval.

Norwegian Wood? Podcast offers every Beatles song for free

Well, 2008 is over and The Beatles catalog of music still isn’t legally available on the internet. However, a free and legal download of every tune is now available from a very unexpected source. Norwegian broadcasting company NRK is releasing a podcast that tells the story behind each Beatles song, followed by the actual tune in its entirety — all 212 of them. Did we mention it was free?

If you build it, they will come — on Google Earth

Those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area can watch the construction of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge anytime we want. Unfortunately, most of the time that means sitting in traffic on the current Bay Bridge. But now there’s another option, and it’s not just for us locals: Watch it on Google Earth.

Roku's second act: Amazon Video on Demand

When it launched last year, Roku was a compelling device because it was the first set-top box that streamed Netflix Watch Instantly movies to your television. Now, several other devices do that as well, including Blu-ray players, TiVo, the Xbox 360 gaming console and now LG televisions. Roku needed something else to help set it apart from the others — and today it got just that: Amazon Video on Demand.

Twitter: Gone phishing? Obama, Britney, and Facebook accounts hacked

Twitter, after suffering from a weekend phishing attack that stole the usernames and passwords of site users, has been hacked, with prominent Twitter accounts affected. Fox News’ account declared for about an hour that “Bill O’Reilly is gay” while Barack Obama’s account, which was last used in November on election day, posted a long link to a third-party survey with the lure of a gas card prize — at least the hacker is sort of non-partisan?

Red iPhones? Maybe eventually, but this isn't it.

Apple has dabbled in a number of Product Red items over the years, most recently with a red version of the new iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Today, a French blog, Nowhere Else, posted some pictures of a supposed red version of the iPhone (which ReadWriteWeb reposted). So should we chalk this up to another product launching at Macworld in a couple days? No — at least not the one in this picture.

Soonr nails the desktop to cloud to iPhone connection for documents

In today’s world, rarely do we get the opportunity to be sequestered somewhere for a long period of time to work on a project. We end up doing business on the go, using laptops and, most recently, mobile phones. Soonr, of Campbell, Calif., is a company that’s banking on that need for mobility by granting you access to your documents on the go, and today it’s launching an application to extend its reach to the hot iPhone platform.

Indecent proposal? iPhone fart apps continue down the gutter

I know a lot of you are sick of hearing about iPhone fart applications, but keep in mind that iFart Mobile is still the number one app in Apple’s App Store and is making its developers tens of thousands of dollars each day. Also keep in mind that fart apps are still showing up in the App Store in droves each day, and today brings perhaps the crudest one yet: Fart Machine.

Mr. Tweet speeds up its Twitter recommendations

I’ve gained several hundred followers on Twitter over the past month, and I credit (blame?) most of it to Mr. Tweet. The service, which adds social context to Twitter by recommending new people you should be following based on their other connections, has seen a surge in usage since it started in November. And now it’s improving its services to make them quicker and more useful.

EyeJot This lets you share links with video explanations

Quite often on the Internet I find something that I want to share — but I want to tell you why I’m sharing it. While Facebook, FriendFeed, Google Reader and Twitter all let you do that to varying degrees with text, sometimes I wish I could just explain it in my own words while you’re reading the actual story. Video mail service EyeJot’s “EyeJot This” bookmarklet lets you do that, and thanks to Ping.fm support, I can send it to the masses.

Facebook sues social network connector Power.com

When Power.com, a service that lets you access all your social networks through a single site, launched last year, VentureBeat editor Matt Marshall wondered whether it was violating the networks’ terms of service. At the time, Power.com chief executive Steve Vachani insisted it wasn’t, but it looks like Facebook disagrees: The social networking company just sued Power.com for breaking anti-spam laws, for violation of the computer fraud and abuse act, and for infringing Facebook’s copyrights and trademark, among other charges.

How the World of Goo became one of the indie video game hits of 2008

The growing popularity of the indie game, World of Goo earned it the No. 1 rank on Amazon’s top ten best-selling PC games recently, albeit temporarily, among giants like World of Warcraft, Spore, Left-4-Dead, and Fallout3. This independently developed game’s success illustrate the changes that are taking place in the video game and digital content distribution landscape. How appropriate, as we end this year and look for changes in the next.

2009 brings an easy option to unlock the iPhone 3G — but results vary

True to their word, the group known as Dev-Team unveiled their software unlock for the iPhone 3G, known as yellowsn0w, on New Year’s Day. This software unlock will allow you to use your iPhone with a SIM card from another carrier other than AT&T (the exclusive iPhone carrier in the US). CrunchGear did a great step-by-step walk through with pictures, and it looks very easy to do, but there are some issues, which the Dev-Team has been updating on its blog.

IE's market share: Down, down, down as the rivals go higher

This past November, Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer (IE), saw its market share fall below 70 percent for the first time, according to data from Market Share. And the numbers look worse for the limited data from December so far, with IE now accounting for 68.15 percent of web browsers, The Dallas Morning News points out.

Google's iPhone app has a hidden menu

In November, Google launched voice search capabilities for its native iPhone application. It took a fairly pointless app and made it cool, interesting and useful. But alongside that update Google added a hidden menu, which it revealed today on the Google Mobile Blog.

Android netbooks on their way, likely by 2010

[Update: Since posting this story, we've had a lot of inquiries from readers, with questions ranging from whether Android is ready for laptops and full-scale PCs, why Android can't rely fully on Linux, and so on. See our follow-up Android FAQ post.]

Viacom to Time Warner: We'll take Dora, and online episodes too

Time Warner Cable and Viacom’s drawn-out feud over rights fees could result in 13 million Time Warner and Bright House customers losing 19 popular channels, including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, on January 1. That’s right, you could be saying sayonara to The Daily Show, The Hills and Spongebob Squarepants as soon as the clock strikes midnight. But that’s not all: Viacom is also threatening to yank online content. Happy New Year, eh?

The iPhone dominated our Apple headlines this year

There’s simply no denying that 2008 was a good year for Apple. Sales of just about everything were up, and market share went up too, but the real gems for the company were the iPhone 3G and its accompanying App Store. Our top stories about Apple this year definitely reflect that — as yes, all of the top ones were about the iPhone or the App Store

Hulu traffic not actually suffering from post-Palin depression

Professional video site Hulu saw its traffic plummet after Election Day — a drop as high as 10.8 percent, according to earlier comScore reports. Even though statistics classes emphasize that correlation doesn’t equal causation, it seemed that viewers, who flocked to the web site in droves to watch Saturday Night Live’s hilarious Sarah Palin-skewering skits, lost interest after Tina Fey retired her gun-slinging, caribou-hunting impersonation and Barack Obama t-shirts became even more scarce. Now it turns out the decline in traffic was not so steep.

Revolutionizing business markets with games

David Edery and Ethan Mollick are co-authors of Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business, published in 2008 by Pearson Education. Edery, the Xbox Live Arcade games portfolio planner at Microsoft, wrote this piece, about the trend dubbed Funware in our past stories, for VentureBeat.

Whose mob war is it, anyway?

An intellectual property court battle around popular mobster-themed Facebook game Mob Wars has been resolved. Coincidentally, real-life mobster Salvatore Riina has recently been gaining thousands of users on Facebook fan pages — and provoking protests in his home country of Italy.

Cheesy personalized calling apps for your iPhone

You know those tourist shops that sell all that personalized name crap? You know, just in case you have a son named Matthew and you want a license plate keychain just for him? Or maybe a daughter named Samantha who needs a shot glass with her name on it? Well, now Apple’s App Store can fill the need for those tacky gifts in its own way with personalized calling apps.