iFive: AOL-Yahoo Rumor, Apple’s PC Share, Outlook for Macs, Mobile Barcodes a Hit, Feds Scanning Facebook Again

It’s Thursday morning, the Chilean miners are free. And even more innovation news emerged from the depths while you slept.

If your commute to work involves a long drive, then you’ll have read our “Future History of Autonomous Vehicles” story with glee. Not only has Google been testing driverless cars, but German researchers have also been working on a self-driving taxi (remember Johnny Cab from Total Recall?). Looks like it won’t be long until you’re reading this news in a moving vehicle with a robot at the wheel:


1. The venerable Wall Street Journal has popped up with a rumor that AOL and private equity firms are circling Yahoo, sniffing at an acquisition. Would such a move work? It sure drives traffic to WSJ’s website, and Yahoo’s stock bumped up a bit but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Would an AOL-owned Yahoo even be a different beast, or just two purposeless, lost giants clutching together? Commenters will likely be dining on that feast for the rest of the week.

2. Apple, one of the world’s biggest companies, has just scored a tiny but significant success: For the first time its share of the PC market has popped up over 10%. It’s a notional milestone, of course, but the entire PC industry will perk up and pay attention to it, and plan strategies about it. Maybe it’s the iPhone/iPad halo effect in action, but it’s perfectly timed for Apple’s newest OS announcement next Wednesday.

3. Microsoft is paying attention, too–we learned at Windows Phone 7’s launch that Zune syncing would be coming to Macs. And now there’s news that Outlook is also en route to the Mac. This is huge news in the business world, where Outlook has a stranglehold on business email. Excellent news, but it does make one wonder why Apple hasn’t built a decent, optimized email program for serious business users.

4. Mobile barcode scanning has hit the Western world, folks! It’s been popular in places like Japan for a while, but a new survey (by an industry insider, admittedly) shows that consumer barcode scanning around the world is up 700% in 2010. Get used to seeing those cute 2-D QR codes, folks! Perfect timing by too….

5. Another reason to wonder if portions of the government are crazy: The feds are checking social networks for foreigners applying for U.S. citizenship. That kind of makes sense, but you’d hope they’re being smart about it. Having lots of Facebook friends may be interpreted as you being narcissistic.

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