Loaded: Social networking for suckersApple and Microsoft update their MP3 lineups, the U.S. Senate investigates text-message price gouging, and both AT&T and Verizon launch mobile social networks.
^B00:00:00 >> Apple and Microsoft update their MP3 players. The US Senate investigates text message price gouges. And Verizon and AT&T launch a mobile social networks for suckers. It's Wednesday, September 10. I'm Natali Del Conte, and it's time to get Loaded. ^M00:00:13 [ Music ] ^M00:00:19 Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco yesterday to announce Apple's holiday offerings, which -- as expected -- include a new line of iPods. The new Nanos are thinner, have a curved back like the iPhone, and come in more colors. An 8-gig version is $149.00, and a 16-gig version is $199.00. The new iPod Touch is thinner as well, and there's now an 8-gig model, which will sell for $229.00, which tells us that Apple may be wanting to move the Touch into place as it's core iPod. And a new version of iTunes, iTunes 8, was also released. Apparently it's causing problems to certain Vista users and is unable to sync an iPod or an iPhone unless you do a clean install, which means erasing all previous iTunes software before installing the new version. Surely, Apple will have a fix out for that soon though, so sit tight. For those of us who are able to use the new iTunes, though, you'll notice the software's newest capability; something called a "Genius" feature. It creates a playlist around any given song based on recommendations from other users and data it collects anonymously. It's kind of like Pandora, but not quite. Test it out and let me know if it makes any offensive pairings. So far, I've agreed with its taste, but Tom Krazit, of News.com, was put off by a playlist with Bob Dylan and John Mayer. I don't think that's bad, do you? Write in at firstname.lastname@example.org. [ Sound effect ] Apple also announced that it kissed and made with NBC Universal so that the network can bring its shows back to iTunes. You can now buy shows on iTunes for $1.99 in regular definition, or $2.99 in high definition. That fight only lasted a year, but what a year that was. The damage may already have been done. Why would you buy an NBC show on iTunes when you can watch it on Hulu for free? [ Sound effect ] Not to be outdone, the Microsoft Zune has some news of its own. Our own Ina Fried got a look at the new Zunes in advance. Take a look. >> So what's new with Zune for the holidays? >> There's a lot that's new with Zune for the holidays. I'm holding in my hand a 120-gig black Zune, which is new. And here on the table you can see a couple of other new hardware form factors. This is a 16-gig Zune. And this is the Zune in blue. What's new is we're now tracking the music that's played on FM stations. And so you see here, the Zune knows that we're listening to "Stop the Music" by Rihanna. And if I want to, I can click there and add that song to my cart. So it's a way of listening to the radio to discover new music, and if you find something you like, you just click and you can add it to your cart. All of the software features that you see on the DC and the device are going to be available to everyone who's bought a Zune. >> I know we all have attitude about the Zune because the iPod has such a strong hold on the market, but I think this is a really cool new feature. It makes me think. Most MP3 players have an FM tuner these days. Why is it taking the iPod so long? [ Sound effect ] Microsoft also announced a service called "Microsoft Video Messages." That's basically the video form of an email. You can record and send personalized videos for a lucky recipient to access at their leisure. You do have to be running Windows, but you can use any webcam you'd like. Microsoft did release a new line of webcams to go with this product if you don't already have one, and they're between $60.00 and $100.00. This is a fun idea and certainly more attractive than voicemail. But Microsoft's demo video for it was painful to watch. You can tell they tried to be cool, but they just do not succeed. Not that I know everything about being cool, but I certainly know what isn't. Microsoft needs to talk to my producers the next time they make a video. [ Sound effect ] In case you're wondering, I did have a nice trip to San Diego for the Demo Conference. You can watch my coverage here on CNET TV. You can also see CNET's complete coverage of both Demo and TechCrunch50, which is a competing conference that happened this week in San Francisco at cnet.com/launchweek. Hundreds of new Internet startups hit the scene this week, and I was really only able to observe a handful, but I thought you might want to know about a few of my favorites. The first one is called "Alerts.com." This is a combination of a personal home page and an RSS reader. You can set up alerts for any news, event, listing, anything you want, and have them sent to you by email, text message, voice message, or you just check your homepage. I really like this because I think it's an easier way for the average user. I can see my mom using this, whereas I certainly don't think she'd use an RSS reader. I also really like a location-based diet program called "Web Diet" that uses the GPS in your phone to provide you with meals that you can eat in surrounding restaurants. This application is so complete. I can't wait to start using it. And my final top three pick is a site called "Invision.TV." That's Invision with an "I." This is a cable TV menu interface for the Internet. It takes video from all over the web, and let's you figure out what you want watch based on that interface. [ Sound effect ] The new AT&T U-verse DVR may lesson the strife in your family because it allows up to 8 TVs to watch different programs that have been recorded on a single DVR. Most DVRs only work with one TV at a time. The Total Home DVR lets users record and playback multiple programs on different sets around the house. This feature will be available to all exiting U-verse DVR owners as a software upgrade by the end of the year. [ Sound effect ] The four major US cell phone carriers have some 'splaining to do. The US Senate is asking Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile to explain just why the cost of text messaging has doubled since 2005. Senator Herb Cole is chair of the anti-trust committee, and he would like to know why each company has changed the price of texting at nearly the same time with the same price. And why that is price is double than what was in 2005, while it does not appear to cost the carriers double to provide the service. You know what? I want to know the same thing. [ Sound effect ] Nokia is making their smartphones smarter by embedding them with Microsoft Exchange Active Sync. All Nokia phones that run S60 Symbian will have Exchange now. Before this news, Nokia users could download Exchange themselves, but only for a handful of their phones, and it really wasn't all that easy. This move shows that Nokia wants those business customers. The company hasn't really been able to establish itself as a smartphone company here in the US. But this is a clear sign that they're trying. [ Sound effect ] Both Verizon and AT&T launched social networking applications this week. Verizon's offering is called "Social Life," and AT&T's is called "My Communities." Both of them are meant to let you aggregate your social networking accounts into one application and manage them from there. What baffles me a little is that both of them have monthly service fees attached. Social Life is $1.49 per month, and My Communities is $2.99 per month. Why would you pay for a mobile social network when there are so many ways to do it for free on your phone? I'm gonna go ahead and say it. This is for suckers. [ Sound effect ] Those are all your headlines for today, but I will be back tomorrow with more. Thank you for watching. I'm Natali Del Conte with CNET TV, and you've just been Loaded. ^M00:06:51 [ Music ]