The magnitude 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan just a few hours ago has elicited a fast response from Google, with a person finder app identical to the one used in New Zealand recently. Japan's technologically very well equipped to react to the disaster, including the tsunami that followed the quake, and the nation's bullet trains, metros and nuclear power stations automatically halted. One reactor had an issue, but there was no reported leak. On with the other news:
1. The iPad 2 goes on sale in the U.S. today, and Bloomberg is already anticipating that 600,000 units will sell over the course of this weekend—putting it at a similar success rate to the initial iPad, which sold 300,000 units in its first day on sale. Comparing sales rates will get more interesting in two weeks when the device hits 25 other nations, a feat which took many months for the original.
2. Intel Capital, the venture capital wing of the tech giant, has revealed plans to invest some $45 million in Indian tech firms in 2011—equivalent to over 20% of the cash it's invested already in India since its first foray in 1998. India is an important growth market for Intel, its second largest investment target outside the U.S.
3. Google's YouTube is rapidly growing: Fresh from its acquisition of Next New Networks, it says 2011 will be its fastest growing year yet for staff—it plans to boost figures by 30%. This equates to about 200 new employees, and the expectation is that most will be for its Californian headquarters, though speculation as to what they'll do there is only just beginning.
4. Google's tweaked its Gmail app slightly, to allow automatic detection of phone numbers in emails users receive. A single click will pop up Gmail's dialpad, which leverages Google Voice, meaning "you no longer have to get out your phone and retype a number anytime someone sends you one in an email or chat message." It's a subtle tweak, but could have big impact for Google—millions of folk use Gmail, and it could be a powerful promotion for Google Voice.
5. While Apple's chosen the U.S. to be the first recipient of the iPad 2, Sony is targeting Europe for the launch market for its upcoming super-powerful portable gaming console the NGP. A date of November 11 is being mentioned, which could be a nice touch as 11/11/11 is something marketers could latch on to in order to push the new product.
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