The Buzz Report
Facebook redefines 'awesome'On Buzz this week, the HP TouchPad underwhelms, Facebook puts us to sleep while Google+ wins our hearts, and Spotify is coming!
Hi, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Molly Wood and welcome to the Buzz Report Ã¯Â¿Â½ the show about the tech news that everyone is talking about. This week, fun with high-level math at press conferences, good old-fashioned Mob-style evil from Microsoft, and Spotify! For real! But first, itÃ¯Â¿Â½s the Gadget of the Week. The Gadget of the Week is the HP TouchPad Ã¯Â¿Â½ which I personally predicted COULD be a dark horse to run away with the tablet market thanks to the user friendly WebOS interface and HPÃ¯Â¿Â½s good industrial design. Well, uh, itÃ¯Â¿Â½s still kind of a dark horse. Reviews have been Ã¯Â¿Â½ lukewarm. Our own Donald Bell put it best, I think: it was a great competitor to the original iPad. But now Ã¯Â¿Â½ itÃ¯Â¿Â½s a little big, heavy, and greasy, and it needs more and better apps. LETDOWN. HP WebOS boss Jon Rubenstein sent out an internal memo urging staff not to be discouraged by the negative reviews and saying itÃ¯Â¿Â½s a marathon, not a race, and over-the-air updates are coming soon to address the problems. Which is good. I gotta say? A hundred dollar price cut probably wouldnÃ¯Â¿Â½t hurt either. I want to believe! And now for the news. Facebook held a press event to announce something Ã¯Â¿Â½awesomeÃ¯Â¿Â½ this week. And here it is Ã¯Â¿Â½ a short tutorial on the meaning of exponential growth. Oh, ok, ok. After regaling us with normalized graphs and whatnot, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got to the awesome part. No, not integration with Spotify, an iPad app, or the rumored Project Spartan mobile development initiative that will bring iOS to its knees. It was group chat and video chat using SkypeÃ¯Â¿Â½s technology. Yeah, no, that was it. But look at the demo! Yep. Awesome. Facebook, you keep saying that word. I donÃ¯Â¿Â½t think it means what you think it means. Now, donÃ¯Â¿Â½t get me wrong. Group chat and video chat are perfectly useful features that would have made for a nice blog post. Maybe not a press conference. And it might not have been such a letdown if it werenÃ¯Â¿Â½t for the OTHER big buzz of the week Ã¯Â¿Â½ Google Plus. Invites started trickling out last week, and to hear the tech press tell it, Google Plus is the new prom king, baby. GoogleÃ¯Â¿Â½s new social setwork lets you drag and drop friends into your own special circles, like Friends or Acquaintances or Work Friends Ã¯Â¿Â½ you can make your own circles, and then decide who you want to post to. And you can do public OR private posts, so itÃ¯Â¿Â½s like a combination of Twitter and Facebook. And it integrates with your Gmail and your Android Ã¯Â¿Â½ itÃ¯Â¿Â½s SO NEW AND SHINY. And its Hangout feature lets you do group VIDEO chat with up to 9 people, even using your phone. So, yeah, Facebook? You might want to scamper on back to the Awesome Lab and get to work. You got competition. Oh, by the way, Facebook is blocking all attempts to import all your Facebook contacts into Google Plus, whether its Chrome extensions or workarounds. You can try, Facebook. You can try. Speaking of the wrong way to win, Microsoft is reportedly demanding that Samsung pay licensing fees of 15 dollars for every Android smartphone it sells. 15 DOLLARS PER PHONE. Microsoft has used copyright infringement threats to get licensing fees from HTC and some smaller Android phone makers, and is currently battling with Motorola and Barnes and Noble over Android devices. The company also reportedly hinted that it might take less money from Samsung in exchange for a partnership where Samsung makes more Windows Phone phones. So, thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s Ã¯Â¿Â½ evil. Also, Microsoft announced a partnership with Chinese search engine giant Baidu, and will use Bing to deliver all totally censored English-language Web searches in China. So Ã¯Â¿Â½ thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s Ã¯Â¿Â½ a morally questionable land grab, yes, yes, indeed. Compared to Google, which left China rather than censor its search results. Google is having a good week, PR-wise. DonÃ¯Â¿Â½t worry, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m sure theyÃ¯Â¿Â½ll scare the bejesus out of us soon. And finally, in happier news, everyoneÃ¯Â¿Â½s favorite music service that theyÃ¯Â¿Â½ve never used, Spotify, is coming to the U.S. OFFICIALLY. Is that the last of the tech unicorns? It might be. Anyway, the cloud streaming music service has signed its last American label deal and is headed here Ã¯Â¿Â½ sometime soon for a price we donÃ¯Â¿Â½t yet know and with features yet to be announced. So, that unicorn is not dead yet. This is getting kind of twisted. And thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s the Buzz Report for this week, everyone. IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Molly Wood, and thank you for watching.