MediaFile

Apple’s shutting Lala, sets off iTunes plan speculation

That was quick.

Apple is shutting down Lala, the Web ‘cloud-based’ music service it bought last December for a rumored $80 million. It has been widely expected that Apple would eventually integrate the music service into the iTunes platform to offer a subscription service based in the cloud.

The speculation on various blogs is that such a service may still be in the works, although maybe not right away.

Apple as usual wouldn’t tell us what their plans are, but they did promise to refund Lala’s customers. Lala, if you remember, was founded by the irrepressible Bill Nguyen, a serial entrepreneur with the energy of a jack-in-a-box.  Just this month Nguyen has been showing off his amazing enviromentally-friendly surfing hideaway in Hawaii to the readers of WSJ Magazine.

 Lala-Bill Nguyen

Lost iPhone’s finder unmasked, lawyer in tow

blahThe world on Thursday finally — finally! — discovered the identity of the infamous bar patron who scooped up the lost Apple iPhone prototype from a Silicon Valley beer garden, thus setting off a chain of events that has taken us far afield from the technology world, into the murky waters of journalistic ethics and police raids.

Wired.com first identified the individual as Brian Hogan, a 21-year-old who lives in Redwood City, California. But it wasn’t long before an email from Mr. Hogan’s lawyer was shooting into the inboxes of journalists everywhere, defending him as “kind of young man that any parent would be proud to have as their son.”

“He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone,” said the email from his lawyer, Jeffrey Bornstein.

HP buys Palm — who cares?

HP’s deal to buy Palm underlines the keenness of PC vendors to jump into the booming smartphone game, but will likely have very little impact on the smartphone market. HP has agreed to pay $1.2 billion for loss-making Palm, best known in recent years as the investment target of U2 lead singer Bono. The firm only sold 2.4 million smartphones in the last 12-month period, giving it just over 1 percent of the market.

In the last few years all top PC vendors — including Acer, Lenovo and Dell — have rushed to the surging smartphone market hoping to boost profits. So far only Apple has succeeded, and it has taken over two years for it to build up global phone distribution.

Top smartphone vendors Nokia, RIM and Apple boast much higher profit margins than PC vendors. HP’s gross margin for its most recent quarter was 22.8 percent, just half Research in Motion’s 45.7 percent margin, while Apple’s was 41.7 percent.

Missing iPhone saga continues; police said to be involved

iphoneblahSure, it was one of the busiest weeks on the tech earnings calendar, but despite a crush of important indicators about the health of the industry, all anyone seems to care about was that famously wayward iPhone, which caused such a stir earlier in the week.

And just as it seemed the story was about to peter out, there was a report Friday that the police are now investigating the case.

If you’ve been living in a cave for the past week (ignoring David Letterman and publicity-seeking airlines) and missed all the hubbub, here’s the recap: young Apple engineer accidentally leaves a apparent prototype of fourth-generation iPhone in a Silicon Valley bar, where the device is recovered by an unknown individual, who turns around and sells it to gadget site Gizmodo for $5,000. Gizmodo promptly reveals to the world all the glories of the new iPhone, complete with pictures. Apple asks for, and gets, the device back.

Dear Gizmodo, we want our secret iPhone back

Tech blog site Gizmodo set the Internet on fire on Monday when it released photos and spec details of what they said was Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Speculation ran rampant over how this whole scoop came about, including questions over whether the site paid money for the device. Gizmodo’s Nick Denton confirmed that they paid $5,000 for access to the phone. Other questions being bandied about: Was the whole thing an Apple plant so the company could gauge user reactions to the redesign? Will Apple or analysts mention the leak during their earnings conference call today?

The site has shared their version of how Apple lost the next iPhone, including tidbits on the poor Apple employee unwittingly involved:

Dell says it won’t chase Apple in tablet race

dellstreakThe iPad is officially on the market, and here come its rivals. Dell and HP, among many others, are planning to bring their own touchscreen tablets to consumers some time this year.

Dell will launch a 5-inch tablet (said to be called “Streak,” although the company has not officially bestowed a name) in the next three to six months with a yet-to-be-named wireless carrier (AT&T would make a lot of sense, given that it will carry Dell’s first U.S. smartphone later this year).

Neeraj Choubey, general manager of Dell’s tablet division, said the company deliberately stayed clear of the iPad launch so as not to be too closely associated with the device.  The iPad, at 9.7 inches, is nearly twice the size of Dell’s tablet.

from Shop Talk:

Check Out Line: Duke wins, but there’s another bracket to fill

duke1Check out a different kind of tournament bracket still underway.

The Duke Blue Devils may have won yet another college basketball title Monday night, but consumers can still make their "Sweet 16" picks in Consumerist.com's annual "Worst Company in America"  tournament, which runs through April 26.

In its fifth year, the website, owned by Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, lets consumers vote for their least favorite companies in matchups much like the NCAA tournament. Starting with 32 "teams," the tournament pairs companies in votes in which the "winner" (think about it, in a worst company vote you want to lose) advances to face the next competitor.

In the first round this year, Bank of America beat Citibank, GM beat Toyota and in an "upset" Cash4Gold beat defending "champion" AIG. Other companies that advanced included Walmart, Ticketmaster, United Airlines, Best Buy, Apple and Comcast, which has lost in the title game the last two years.

What’s an IPad? HP tries to drum up buzz for its “slate”

hpblahWith iPad hysteria perhaps starting to fade — or at least come back down from the stratosphere — Hewlett-Packard chimed in Monday to remind everybody in the media that, hey, we’ve also got a tablet on the way.

HP is the world’s largest PC maker and is not used to playing second fiddle to anyone in that space. So it will be interesting to see what kind of excitement the company can generate for its still unnamed touchscreen “slate device,” which is headed to consumers later this year.

Here’s a quick preview: YouTube Preview Image

HP’s tablet, which runs on Windows, seems to be emphasizing what the iPad lacks, namely flash compatibility and the ability to expand storage.

from Shop Talk:

Window shopping on the iPad, brought to you by eBay

eBay_iPad_1Shopping in front of a computer or small hand-held device got you down? EBay says it has the answer with its new iPad app, completely redesigned for ultimate browsing on Apple's hippest new tablet.

The app has already been downloaded "tens of thousands" of times  since the launch of the iPad on Saturday, said eBay's vice president of mobile, Steven Yankovich. Currently, eBay is No 11 in the list of free iPad apps, he said.

The app allows shoppers to see high-resolution images of their favorite products, even in thumbnails, and an easy-to-navigate two screen system simplifies the buying process.

LIVE BLOG: Apple’s iPad hits stores

Reuters reporters take a peek inside the iPad to reveal its design and components, and bring you news from Apple stores around the country.