iFive: Sony Net Still Down, Windows Mobile 7 Boost, Microsoft In Skype-Buying Game, RSS In Twitter, Apple Is Most Valuable Brand

1. After the repeated and damaging hack attacks on its network, Sony has yet to bring key parts of its online systems back up. Now it looks like the PlayStation Network and Qriocity service will remain off for a longer interlude--maybe as much as six weeks in total, though Sony itself is uncertain. As part of its security re-vamp, Sony is rejigging its entire security structure, which is a complex process. May 31 is now the new target.

2. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS is vital to regenerate MS's position in the lucrative (and important, for future market position) smartphone game, but the OS hasn't shone yet. Microsoft is about to add polish in the form of turn-by-turn navigation, voice-to-text conversion, Bing audio (which is like Shazam) and Bing video--which can detect text in images and items like QR codes automatically. It's a serious specs boost, but it only really brings WP7 up to a par with iOS and Android.

3. Last week lots of excitement was kicked off with rumors Google and Facebook may be trying to buy famous VoIP firm Skype. Now those rumors have a new injection of energy, with a hint that Microsoft is also in the acquisition dance, and that news may arrive very "soon." Microsoft could use Skype's tech to boost its business productivity offerings, and also to add a new edge to its mobile services--both moves could help it compete better with Google.

4. Is RSS's future grim? The demise of the simple news syndication system has been foretold for a while--but it's emerged that Facebook has stopped supporting RSS feeds completely in favor of more closed, controlled access through APIs. The decision by Facebook to ditch it completely will send a powerful message to other users--RSS isn't dead yet, but some of the world's biggest sites are stopping using it.

5. Apple, according to WPP Plc., is now the most valuable brand in the world, just recently surpassing incumbent champion Google. The Cupertino-based firm is worth over $153 billion as a brand--climbing 84% over the last year. Google slipped 2% in the rankings to $112 while IBM rose to third place to beat McDonald's. Facebook's rise through the ranks, up 246% is the fastest among the world's top companies.

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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