On this day, eight years ago, Space Shuttle Columbia broke up into a million glittering pieces on re-entry, burning a trail over the skies of the U.S., killing all aboard. The shuttle was a victim of a chunk of insulating foam which broke from the fuel tank at launch, and punched through a wing—leaving a hole through which the hot gases of re-entry could enter and melt the Shuttle's structure. On with the news:
1. Apple and Sony seem to have fallen out, merely because Sony offered up an e-reader app, complementing its own e-publishing service, that allowed users to access and buy Sony texts. Apple may have "tightened up" on this sort of functionality as it rivals its own e-bookstore (much as it does for iTunes-like apps). The question is now: whither Amazon's Kindle app, which does the same thing?
2. Via Gogo in-flight Internet, seven U.S. airlines are giving away free access to Facebook while you fly—just for this month. It's a stunt to get users hooked on the idea of in-flight Net (where previously they may have been reluctant to pay) but it's a generous one—Facebook's the site most accessed via Gogo.
3. Cisco has looked at the state of world mobile Net use, and discovered that the volume of mobile Net traffic more than doubled between 2009 and 2010—it went up 2.6 times. In perspective, this mobile traffic was three times as big as the whole world's wired traffic use in 2000. Mobile Net is the future, folks: Cisco expects 26 times more mobile data by 2015. Good news for the vendors at Mobile World Congress.
4. A new federal class action suit alleges AT&T is "systematically" overcharging subscribers who own iPhones and iPads. Plaintiff Patrick Hendricks accusation is AT&T "overstates the amount of data" used on mobile, and he hired a consulting firm to look into it—they found a typical overstatement of 7% to 14%, and sometimes accuses subscribers of using data when they're not at all. AT&T will defend "vigorously."
5. Here's a funny one to ponder, just as MWC comes into view—according to data from the NPD Group, sales of Windows Mobile phones in the last quarter outstripped Windows 7 phones. Considering Microsoft is betting the (mobile) farm on its new smartphone OS, this is terrible news for them.
To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.