Here’s the latest action:
1) EU delays Google’s DoubleClick acquisition
2) Intellectual Ventures looking for $1B to buy patents
3) Wall Street Journal’s online version to be free
4) Microsoft working on Flickr competitor
5) … and changes the name of its mobile interface
6) Yahoo settles case brought by Chinese reporters
7) Wal-Mart’s $200 desktop sells out in two weeks
8) RackSpace servers go down; Om gets poetic
European Union sets back Google’s DoubleClick acquisition another five months — Saying it needs to examine Google’s proposed acquisition of advertising company DoubleClick in the context of the entire market, the European Union has wrapped up the search giant in another five months worth of red tape. They’ll give their decision on April 2, about a year after Google first decided to buy the company. Of course, the internet doesn’t move on bureuacratic timelines, and you can be sure Microsoft and others eyeing Google’s hefty share of internet advertising revenue will make good use of the time the time to beef up their own competition.
Intellectual Ventures: Carefully positioning its hands around your throat — For years, Microsoft was accused of being the intellectual property bully of the tech world. It’s not so scary now, but former CTO Nathan Myhrvold may be. He’s been busy buying up patents through a company called Intellectual Ventures, and is now raising another $1 billion to buy more. Myhrvold says he hasn’t sued anyone yet, but chances are pretty good that he’s hoping to make a fortune by forcing companies with technology related to the IP he now owns to pay licensing fees. The WSJ has a more in-depth piece on the company here.
Wall Street Journal online to become free — Two months ago, the New York Times removed its Times Select pay wall. Now it looks like one of the last remaining large sites to require payment, the Wall Street Journal, is following in its footsteps. That’s somewhat surprising, since the WSJ seemed fairly successful at charging; in fact, it just broke one million subscribers. However, new owner Rupert Murdoch thinks he can make more off advertising.
Microsoft readies Flickr competitor — Windows Live will soon include a competitor to Flickr, according to a job ad dug up by istartedsomething. “The Digital Memories Experience team (DMX) is helping people make deeper connections with those they care about. We want to give you the ability to effortlessly share your memories … we want to make it easy and fun to enjoy your photos and videos,” the ad claims. We wish them luck, and hope they’ll check with CNET first for advice on how not to run a photo-sharing site.
Microsoft changes mobile interface name — Yes, more from Microsoft. The company has changed the name of its mobile application delivery system, ZenZui, to the almost-equally-meaningless name Zumobi. Apparently they wanted to highlight its “Zooming User Interface”. We wouldn’t blame them for just calling it Zooming User Interface, but perhaps that wouldn’t be Web 2.0 enough. The idea behind Zumobi is delivering a suite of applications to your mobile device; for more information, see our past coverage. Open Access Beta for Zumobi begins on December 14th.
Yahoo settles case brought by Chinese reporters — Following strong criticism of the company by Congress last week, it quickly relented and settled a case brought by jailed Chinese dissident reporters. China, of course, isn’t apologizing for anything. More from Reuters.
Build it (cheaply), and they will come — Wal-Mart’s $200 Green GPC desktop computer, which is basically a shell that connects to online Google applications, has sold out after only two weeks. Its popularity seems to be part of a larger trend toward ultra-cheap computing; there’s also the Asus EEE PC, a $450 stripped-down ultra-slim laptop that has received good reviews, and of course, the One Laptop Per Child notebooks which are currently around $200.
RackSpace’s San Antonio servers go down — A truck that slammed into a power transformer resulted in RackSpace pulling several servers offline, which in turn switched off a few websites, including GigaOm and 37Signals. Om’s moral lesson from the debacle: “Our Internet infrastructure, despite all the talk, is as fragile as a fine porcelain cup on the roof of a car zipping across a pot-holed goat track.” We can’t wait for someone to write that into the risks section of their prospectus.