On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate the tobacco industry. Just 10 years ago, when Senator John McCain introduced a similar bill, it was scuttled in part by $100 million worth of lobbying on the behalf of tobacco giant Philip Morris. But PM has backed the new bill, which implements tough new restrictions on how cigarettes can be advertised. What gives?
According to Time magazine, PM has realized that with over half of U.S. smokers already loyal to its flagship brand, Marlboro, the new Senate bill will only block rival RJ Reynolds from gaining marketshare. Check out the marketing chicanery behind the unlikely new alliance between regulators and tobacco magnates.
In 2008, the EU fined Microsoft over $1 billion USD for the anti-competitive practice of bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. The result: a European Windows 7 that doesn't include IE out of the box.
But the trouble won't stop there for Redmond, according to the BBC; just five months ago the European Commission said that the excising of IE might not be adequate penitence. Microsoft will have to convince judges in Brussels in an upcoming hearing (date unannounced) that it is doing everything within its means to allow a field of fair play for browser and multimedia competition. Whether it can do so before Windows 7's set launch date in October remains to be seen.
The Palm Pre has been freed of its Sprint shackles by an Irish developer who managed to obviate Sprint's activation process and use his Pre as a standalone WiFi PDA.
According to SlashGear, Steve Troughton-Smith wanted the Pre, even though there's no EVDO Rev. A connectivity in his home country, so he hacked the webOS firmware to exclude cellular connectivity. If you're thinking that a Sprint-free PDA might work well with your digital life, look for how-to's on the process to pop up soon.
Not into jailbreaking phones? Well, turns out you can use your Pre to play Doom, too.
Peter Schiff's Straight Talk
You probably recognize Peter Schiff—he's the guy that made rounds on the cable outlets last year, preaching his apt and accurate prediction of economic meltdown. He was treated then like Chicken Little.
Then the sky actually fell. Now he's promulgating his wisdom in a daily vlog that bears watching, if you have any interest in your investments or the direction of the economy. Judging by his following—a few thousand viewers each day—you may have an advantage on the masses, who seem to believe that greener pastures are right around the corner.
The future of print media can be easily conflated with the future of advertising, since the notion of subscription fees is quickly becoming irrelevant. So it's no surprise that The New York Times R&D lab is working hard on figuring out how to maximize ad space with technologies like RFID and portable content. Check out the video linked above, courtesy of Harvard's Neiman Journalism Lab.
While you're there, check out the top 50 most looked-up words from NYTimes.com articles. There are some groaners, sure—anachronisms like "shibboleth" and "phlogiston," but also some good words like "laconic," "fungible," "solipsistic," and "enervating."
Mobile broadband, as it's offered by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, isn't such a hot deal: you end up paying $40-$60 a month for as little as 50MB of bandwidth, and you're glued to a two-year contract that makes that paltry commitment even more daunting. Still, the prospect of being truly mobile with always-on Internet is a seductive one for many laptop users. Now Virgin Mobile has entered the fray with a no-contract, no-commitment option that, while not "cheaper" exactly, is certainly much more reasonable.
According to ArsTechnica, Virgin announced this week that it is offering prepaid mobile broadband plans in increments of 100MB, 200MB, 600MB and 1GB bandwidth. The 100MB plan is a 10-day service, while all the rest last 30 days. The price pyramid works like this: $10 for the 100MB, then $20, $40, and $60 respectively. You also have to buy a $150 USB dongle, which will be available at BestBuy. Sure, most contract services offer up to 5GB at that $60 price point, but they also have cancellation charges if you want to opt out of your contract.
A new study by Forrester suggests that iPhone users are largely younger, more educated, and more affluent than users of other smartphones or regular mobile phones. In a survey of over 30,000 people, 67% of iPhone users earn more than $70,000 a year, and almost exactly half have college educations. They're also more likely to access the Internet and use email on their phones, which might suggest they are more productive workers, too. They are also more likely to spend more on cellular service than their peers, however, suggesting they might also be suckers for AT&T's cash-cow service plans. For the full rundown, check out AppleInsider's summary of the research, linked above.