iFive: Google’s Growth, AOL and News Corp, WikiLeaks Cash Woes, Patent Trolling, Spotify to Go Virgin

Friday’s rolled around again, and while you were dreaming, other people were ending their work week. Here’s the early tech news that’s resulted:

You’re reading this on a programmable computer (duh!) powered by whizzing electrons–but there are other kinds. Arguably the first of these–Charles Babbage’s magnificent Analytical Engine, powered by whirling gears and levers–is in the news as people pledge money to get it built. That’s a feat Babbage himself never managed. Steampunk for realz. On with the other news:


1. Google just put the “oooh” in its name: It’s given a rare insight into its finances. The headline figure is all over the Intertubes today, largely because it’s so shocking. In the last quarter its net income figure is up 32% to $2.17 billion. Paid clicks on its ads are also up 16% on the same quarter last year–but that’s driven by the general industry trend.

2. The AOL buyout rumors and trial balloons are multiplying and getting weirder. The latest odd twist: News Corp is being approached by private equity firms hunting for a strategic investment partner. Would Rupert Murdoch be interested in the bloated giant? Possibly–there’s some synergy with its news business in the mix, and NC’s chief digital officer once ran AOL. Maybe they should all have a secret meeting at Bin 38 to … ah, never mind.

3. WikiLeaks is, according to its mysterious boss Julian Assange, suffering the other kind of cyberattack at the moment–the government-sponsored one. Moneybookers, which handles the site’s donation-based funding, has closed its account thanks to “blacklisting” based on IP addresses by U.S. and Australian governments. Mysterious.

4. If only the U.S. government applied the same creativity to rehashing the patent laws. Proof it’s needed is news about a seeming patent troll’s aggressive pursuit of sites that use rollover images and hierarchical drop-down menus (which is pretty much all of them). The fee to use the relevant fuzz-language patent? $80,000. A snip. Which is what trollish Webvention would get if the law was changed.

5. Virgin Media is, according to rumors, about to partner with rising music-streaming star Spotify, in a digital case of David beats Goliath. Virgin’s own effort at music streaming services to its millions of customers has flopped. Whereas Spotify’s business is growing–at least in Europe. At least until Apple really steps into the game.

To keep up with this news, and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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