08:20 AM

Newswatch 7.5.07: GOOG blew Sicko slam, iPhone close to cracked

GOOG apology for Sicko slam

[The Official Google Blog] In this case, the blog criticized Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" to suggest how health care companies might use our ad programs when they face controversy. Our internal review of the piece before publication failed to recognize that readers would -- properly, but incorrectly -- impute the criticisms as reflecting Google's official position. We blew it.

In fact, Google does share many of the concerns that Mr. Moore expresses about the cost and availability of health care in America. Indeed, we think these issues are sufficiently important that we invited our employees to attend his film (nearly 1,000 people did so). We believe that it will fall to many entities -- businesses, government, educational institutions, individuals -- to work together to solve the current system's shortcomings. This is one reason we're deploying our technology and our expertise with the hope of improving health system information for everyone who is or will become a patient.

Backfence closes, citizen journalism a failure

[Mashable] The hyped “citizen journalism” trend isn’t panning out too well: Backfence, a network of 13 local sites where users could post their news items, classifieds and photos, is shutting down. Others will do a better postmortem than us, but my initial hunch is that these ventures (Bayosphere was another, that got rolled into Backfence when it failed) were too ambitious, and focused too heavily on “journalism” instead of tech.

UK company says it's close to unlocking iPhone

[InfoWorld] John McLaughlin, founder of Belfast, U.K.-based Uniquephones, said he has engineers working around the clock in several countries who are close to cracking the complex security system Apple has set up to ensure customers can only use iPhones with AT&T Wireless service.

Hard to resell an iPhone

[NYT] Across the nation, people looking to make a quick and easy profit bought one, two or as many phones as they could by recruiting friends to stand in line with them. Many of them were the first to get in line, camping overnight outside the stores. But now they are finding that the iPhone is much more like a Harry Potter book than a hard-to-find Wii video game machine: a great thing to be one of the first to own, but not high in resale value because supply is not constrained.

TechCrunch20 prize money

[ValleyWag] TechCrunch20, the upcoming conference planned by blogging blowhards Jason Calacanis and Michael Arrington, now comes complete with $50,000 in prize money for the startup judged, like a prized poodle, to be the "Best in Show."

Belgium says ISPs must protect copyright

[TechCrunch] A court in Belgium has ruled that an Internet Service Provider bears the responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network. Although the ruling was made in Belgium, it relies on the E.U. copyright directive and may set precedent for the entire Union according to IFPI, an organization that represents the recording industry world wide.

MSFT takes $1b charge for XBox

[Reuters] Microsoft said on Thursday said it would take a more than $1 billion charge to fix "an unacceptable number of repairs" to its Xbox 360 video game consoles and had missed shipment targets for the end of June. Microsoft is under pressure with mounting complaints about Xbox 360 failures on the Internet and growing expectations that Sony could slash the price of its rival PlayStation 3 console at a video game exposition next week.

GOOG subpoenaed for keyword data

[IP Law Blog][In] the latest development in the long-running case of Rhino Sports v. Sport Court, ... the plaintiff Sport Court (now Conner Sport Court International) claimed that Rhino Sports had breached an injunction by buying the keyword phrase "sport court," when it fact Rhino Sports apparently had just broad-matched the word "court." The parties aren't done squabbling yet, because now Sport Court has issued a subpoena to Google requesting records of all purchases of "sport court" as a keyword; the associated "cost per click calculations"; estimated ad positions for the keyword; search volume trends for the keyword.

Hello! Maybe I'm missing something big, and maybe I'm not aware of how common these types of subpoenas to search engines are, but this data sounds like it would have significant competitive value. At minimum, I suspect every trademark owner and SEO would LOVE to have this data.