Week in review: Gaga for gadgets

Google, Microsoft, and even Apple make fresh plays to command the attention of consumers' wallets. Also: France to tax Google?

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read

Google, Microsoft, and even Apple made fresh plays to command the attention of consumers' credit cards.

As expected, the Google unveiled the Nexus One, a new Android phone that offers an inside designed by Google and an outside designed by HTC. The primary interface is a 3.7-inch AMOLED display with five customizable home screens. The Nexus One runs the Android 2.1 OS, and the WVGA display can show 3G graphics. The trackball below the display lets you navigate menus, but also lights up to alert you to new messages.

Unboxing the Nexus One (photos)

See all photos

With the release, Google is trying to gradually reel in Apple by emphasizing open phones that feature open app stores, an open-source operating system, and a variety of sales channels. It's trying to do nothing less than reinvent the way mobile phones are sold in the U.S.

In order to do so, Google must show that consumers are willing to embrace a distribution channel for smartphones that is not controlled by wireless carriers, which will never give up their gatekeeper role over access and pricing of these phones if they are not forced to do so by customer demand. Google will also need to continue to create compelling mobile software that serves as a check on the iPhone.
•  Hands-on with the Nexus One
•  Google stole Nexus, says 'Blade Runner' family

CES happens in Vegas
Meanwhile, in the Nevada desert, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer formally opened the Consumer Electronics Show by unveiling a number of new PCs, including a Hewlett-Packard tablet due out later this year. But Microsoft isn't sharing the specifications of the diminutive slate or its price tag.

The world's largest software maker is also promising that its highly anticipated Project Natal add-on for the Xbox 360 will be ready in time for the 2010 holiday-shopping season, but Microsoft, again, isn't saying how much it will cost or what game titles will accompany its release.
•  Ford brings digital comforts to cars
•  Samsung intros 3D Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi, apps
•  Ray Kurzweil tries to build a better e-reader

Apple too
That rumored Apple event everyone has been jawing about these past few weeks? It's on, and it's going to be a big deal. Sources in the know say Apple is indeed planning a media event later this month at which the company will announce a major new product. The gathering is to be held on January 27 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, a space Apple often uses for media events such as this.
•  WSJ: Apple tablet shipping in March

More headlines

Watch this: Enable 'GodMode' in Windows 7
Understanding Windows 7's 'GodMode'

Enthusiasts are buzzing over a trick that lets users get access to all of the operating system's controls in one folder.
•  Windows 7 has lots of 'GodModes'

France could tax Google to subsidize music

A government report says Google and other online-ad companies are "profiting without any consideration" for music artists and book publishers. What comes next?
• French president wants Google investigated
•  Google muses about ads in Street View

Pingdom: Facebook is killing it on page views

A report from the traffic firm suggests that the social network has 11 times as many page views as its closest competitor, MySpace.
•  'Kill Obama' Facebook group active for a month
•  Facebook cuts off Suicide Machine access
•  Facebook fixes bug that crashed iPhone apps

Netflix, Warner Bros. rejigger movie renting

Netflix has agreed not to rent new titles for 28 days after they are released. In exchange, Netflix gets more streaming content, and that's the company's future.

Home energy management a hot topic at show

Expect to see more gadgets and services for helping consumers cut back on energy use through a networked console connected to the electricity meter and appliances.

Shuttle Endeavour readying for February launch

Shuttle moves to its launch pad for a planned February 7 liftoff on a space station assembly mission, the first of a final five flights.
•  Starry, starry 'first light' from NASA's WISE mission

Bono risks becoming next Lars Ulrich

U2's frontman lashes out at ISPs for not doing more to stem online piracy because--he contends--they profit from illegal file sharing.
•  Nirvana bassist defends Bono's antipiracy stance

Also of note

•  Google real-time search: 6 min. to spot quake
•  Study: Three-quarters of U.S. adults use Internet
•  Cybersitter suit accuses China, PC makers of software piracy