SAN FRANCISCO--IBM will return to the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the first time it's had a presence at the Las Vegas convention in 10 years.
No, don't expect to see a Big Blue-branded digital media player to take on the iPod. Instead, the company will tout lower-level technology that gadget makers can use, such as technology for nearly instantaneous translation of speech into Arabic or Chinese, said Mike Fay, an IBM communications executive, in a gathering here with reporters on Thursday.
IBM makes most of its money selling business-oriented products such as servers and server software as well as services for those same customers. And although it sold off its stake in the personal computer business to Lenovo, it has some indirect connections to the consumer world such as manufacturing gaming console processors.
Google earlier this month decided to cut off access to its Google Search SOAP API to new customers, a move that has set of concerns from developers and others who wondered about the bigger technology and business implications.
The Google Search API , which was in beta, is designed to let people to write programs that use SOAP--Simple Object Access Protocol--to perform a Google search. Closing the API to new users appears to have first been reported on the O'Reilly Radar blog .
On a discussion board, Google product manager Tom Stocky said that Google will allow existing users to continue using the API but the company is now favoring another way to tap into Google's search engine programmatically: via its Ajax Search API.
That API is designed to let people put a search box onto their Web application and build Web applications on Google's search engine. As a side note, the technical director of the Google Ajax Search API is Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft distinguished engineer whose defection to Google supposedly prompted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to throw a chair in anger .
In the ensuing discussion , people who relied on the API for their applications voiced their frustration .
More deeply, some people wondered whether Google is essentially picking a winner in an ongoing REST versus WS* debate over the best way to make Web services.
Perhaps Google is trying to influence technical debates--it also has developed GData, another data access API . But ultimately Google is likely favoring the Google Ajax Search API for business reasons--that is, they expect to see more better Web applications and more traffic through that method.
Embedded Wi-Fi chips could end up in almost a billion consumer electronics devices by 2012, according to market researcher In-Stat.
In-Stat said that more than 294 million consumer electronics devices with Wi-Fi shipped in 2007. But that number is quickly growing and will likely reach 1 billion by 2012. The fastest-growing embedded Wi-Fi segment is mobile handsets. By 2011, dual-mode cell phones will surpass PCs as the largest category of Wi-Fi devices, the In-Stat report said.
Several factors are driving adoption. Over the past few years, prices on Wi-Fi hardware have come way down. And the battery life for devices using Wi-Fi has improved dramatically, making it possible to embed Wi-Fi in handheld devices like cell phones. Today, many smartphones, like Apple's iPhone , come equipped with Wi-Fi.
Digital TVs also are expected to use Wi-Fi in the future, the report said. Today only a handful of TVs are capable of connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
Ethernet is currently the preferred method for attaching TVs to the Internet, according to my colleague David Katzmaier who reviews TVs for CNET. The main reason is that streaming video over Wi-Fi is buggy. Ethernet is simply more reliable. The other issue is there isn't a lot of content that can be streamed from the Internet to TVs. That could soon change as services like Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube will likely be integrated into some TVs starting next year.
That said, wireless technology could be used to connect TVs to various devices like set-top boxes and DVD players in an effort to eliminate cords. The only cord needed would be the power cord.
But when you're talking at such short distances, Bluetooth is another technology that could be used. Katzmaier isn't aware of Bluetooth integrated into TVs today, but he said he could see it being used for things like wireless surround speakers and remote controls. It could even be used to integrate cell phones into the TV experience, such as providing caller-ID on TV screens.
Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman ordered earlier this month to pay the recording industry $222,000, is pulling out the stops in her bid to defend herself in court.
The 30-year-old woman has begun selling men's and women's undergarments , coffee mugs, canine apparel, and baby bibs to raise money to pay her legal fees. All the merchandise is stamped with the new "Free Jammie" logo created for her by one of her supporters.
The logo features a music note superimposed on a globe and the words: "Free Jammie. Free Everyone."
Thomas is the first person accused of illegal file sharing by the Recording Industry Association of America to present a defense before a jury. She denied the RIAA's accusations that she attempted to share 24 songs online and maintained that someone must have spoofed her IP address. The jury didn't believe her story.
Her lawyers have asked for a new trial and will likely file an appeal. To many file sharers, Thomas has become a symbol of RIAA heavy handedness for going after a single mother of two who makes less than $40,000 a year. Those who support copyright law say Thomas was caught sharing files and isn't worthy of pity because she had an opportunity to settle with the RIAA for a few thousand dollars.
Thomas was unavailable for comment Monday, but one has to wonder whether she's taken to selling merchandise as a result of lackluster donations.
Soon after losing her court case, Thomas' supporters began sending her money. In the past three weeks, according to the Web site freejammie.com , she has raised only $16,000. Brian Toder, Thomas' attorney, was reluctant to say how much an appeal could cost, but said it would be a minimum of $30,000 to $40,000.
When a local reverend threatened a nationwide church boycott, the company??s once-formidable backbone turned to jelly. The company quietly withdrew support for the proposed bill, which lost by one vote in Washington??s state senate last month.
This was a strange tale from the get-go. When it comes to workforce diversity, Microsoft??s usually done the right thing. But it was only after the eruption of the inevitable uproar that Microsoft reversed course.
In a subsequent company-wide e-mail Steve Ballmer authored a masterpiece of high-minded principle . With a helping hand from the public relations department, Microsoft whipped out its fragrance atomizer and blamed the episode on ??confusion and miscommunication,?? reaffirming the corporation??s commitment to do the right thing. But like so much that passes for truth and passion in this industry, it was scripted baloney.
The truth is that management chose the path of least resistance--each time--and then recalculated the potential costs and benefits. This is what big corporations do when they get into trouble. But you??ll find no sympathy for Microsoft??s plight in this corner. If the company had stuck to its guns in the beginning, it would have been awash in kudos.
Of course that assumes the folks running the show in Redmond had guts.Charles is an executive editor with CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years. A graduate of Queens College and Columbia University, Cooper began his career in journalism at the Associated Press before moving to technology coverage. Before joining CNET News, he worked at Computer & Software News , Computer Shopper , PC Week , and ZDNet. He received the Excellence in Journalism award from the Northern California branch of the Society for Professional Journalists for column writing. In addition to his blogging and podcast appearances, he is a co-host of the CNET News Daily Debrief. E-mail Charlie .
Google is laying off about 300 employees in its newly acquired DoubleClick ad business, according to a source familiar with the matter.
A Google spokesman said the company could not confirm the number of workers laid off.
"Since our acquisition of DoubleClick closed on March 11, we have been working to match and align DoubleClick employees in the U.S. with our organizational plan for the business," the company said in a statement.
"As with many mergers, this review has resulted in a reduction in headcount at the acquired company," the statement said. "Today, we are laying off some DoubleClick employees in the U.S. and placing others in transitional roles. We are confident that our combined organizational structure, along with the skills and experience of our new colleagues, will allow us to continue to offer great products and services to our customers."
The layoffs were expected, with Chief Executive Eric Schmidt giving a warning in a blog posting last month .
The 300 layoffs represent about one-fourth of DoubleClick's workforce and it's likely that additional workers outside the U.S. will also be let go.
Meanwhile, Google says it is splitting up Doubleclick's Performics business unit into two--search marketing and affiliate marketing--and will sell off the search marketing part.
That move, too, is not unexpected. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land had called on Google to divest itself of the search engine marketing arm, saying that even if Google keeps its search engine operations completely separate from the search optimization arm, there could be the appearance of impropriety and bias.
Apparently Google agreed.
"It's clear to us that we do not want to be in the search engine marketing business," the company wrote in a blog posting . "Maintaining objectivity in both search and advertising is paramount to Google's mission and core to the trust we ask from our users. For this reason, we plan to sell the Performics search marketing business to a third party. We believe this will allow us to maintain objectivity and the search marketing business to continue to grow and innovate and serve its customers."
The layoff news was first reported by The New York Times .
Yahoo will open its Sunnyvale, Calif., campus to outside developers in a 24-hour Hack Day next week to see what kinds of applications people can come up with using Yahoo technologies.
About 500 developers are expected to test their mettle in taking a Yahoo software mashup from concept to prototype. Participants will work round-the-clock beginning next Friday afternoon, camping out on the campus lawn while being feted with food, drink and musical entertainment from a mystery act.
Following demonstrations of the applications, awards will be given for the ones deemed the coolest.
Yahoo has held numerous Hack Days for its own employees since December 2005, but this is the first one open to developers from outside the company. The goal is to encourage innovation and bring that start-up feel to the company, says Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product strategy at Yahoo.
In a nod to the irreverent attitude of early hackers famed for applying their own fixes to programs and taking code apart and reassembling it in their own personal way, the mantra of the event is "mash up or shut up."
"It's a punk rock ethic. It wasn't important that you played well, just that you played," he said in an interview with journalists on Friday. "The ethic of 'shut up and do it' resonates with the hacker culture."
Dozens of projects from Yahoo Hack Days have made it into a Yahoo product or service, according to Horowitz.
One that hasn't but tickles Yahoo executives nonetheless involves photocopy machines. Some developers at Sharp created a mashup that allows people to type their zip code into a copier, press a button and get either a digital display or a printout of weather, news or traffic from their geographical area off a Yahoo Web site.
More information about the event is available here .