New York Times gadget guru incites backlash against mobile carriers’ costly voicemail instructions — David Pogue is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. Not that you could tell, given Pogue’s perennial good cheer and unfailing politeness. But he went on a tear today, documenting the overly-long welcome messages on American carriers’ voicemail systems. It’s no secret that these pre-recorded messages are designed to cause customers to burn extra minutes. Pogue estimates that at two voicemail check-ins a day, Verizon is making $620 million a year and wasting three hours per year of its customers’s time forcing them to sit through the greetings and instructions. More to the point, they waste crucial minutes in customers’ lives just as those customers are trying to retrieve an important call.

chris-brown-foreverYouTube hit gets monetized, but it won’t say how monetized — The Official Google Blog gushes over the 10 million views to Jill and Kevin’s wedding video, then goes on to chart out how the copyright holders to the song used in the video, “Forever” by Chris Brown, were able to monetize the popularity of the clip. The song, which was released last year, was goosed back up to #3 on Amazon and #4 on iTunes by the popularity of the video. But Google’s post is frustrating because it doesn’t tell us how much anyone actually made. A million bucks? More? Less? It’s natural for business reporters to suspect that numbers withheld are likely to be disappointing. Even more important, Google’s blog post concludes, “One of our main goals at YouTube is to help content creators effectively make money.” OK, so how many of these effective-money-making events have happened so far? One. Let me know when there are ten thousand.

Building iPods in the USA might not be stupidly expensive — A casual estimate by Harvard Business Publishing blogger Umair Haque concludes that the cost savings of assembling iPods in China is not so great. Moving the labor to the U.S., which Haque doesn’t consider such a great place to work, either, would boost the price of these hypothetical “fair-labor iPods” by between 23 and 37 percent.

windowsmobileMicrosoft’s Windows Phones need to get a lot better to compete with newer platforms — Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Wingfield proposes that Microsoft’s Windows Phones — as Windows Mobile will be renamed — need to integrate hardware and software design the way Apple does for its iPhones. In a blunt interview with Microsoft exec Robbie Bach, Wingfield charges that Microsoft’s mobile software has only crept ahead incrementally, and there are no wow-phones being built to run that software. Windows phones are, he says, basically boring.

What did the head of the Consumer Electronics Agency really say about Apple and Steve Jobs appearing at January’s Consumer Electronics Show? — At a dinner Wednesday night, CEA chief Gary Shapiro talked to reporters about the possibility of Apple finally appearing at CES 2010, and Steve Jobs being asked to deliver the main keynote. A spat erupted over whether or not Shapiro had hinted that Apple and Jobs might participate. Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Charny claimed Shapiro suggested a strong possibility. GDGT editor Ryan Block said Charny was grossly overstating Shapiro’s remarks. The matter has been settled by Financial Times reporter Chris Nuttall, who published a transcription of the dinner conversation from his Livescribe recording pen. Summary: No Apple, no Steve, no way. Forget it.

leaderboard1VentureBeat rocking it solid as Techmeme’s #4 content source — We’ve decided — no, I’ve decided that my VentureBeat colleagues don’t brag it up enough. With every other biz-news blogger running around flogging all the big news stories they’ve broken and how important and very special they are, we at VB sit off to the sides and hope readers will sort of figure it out on their own. Many don’t, so here’s a cheat sheet.