iFive: Google Gifts Googlers, Facebook’s Free Speech, RIM Tablet Priced, BP and Shell Under Fire, Apple iAd

Innovation served up every which way: over easy, sunny side up, with OJ on the side.

1. Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider has what must be the best boss-employee memos for a long time. It’s from Eric Schmidt to each and every one of the 20,000 Google employees, giving them a $1,000 holiday bonus, plus a 10% raise as of January 1, 2011, as well as another raise that effectively doubles their target bonus for the next year. “We believe we have the best employees in the world. Period. The brightest, most capable group of this size ever assembled.”


2. Being fired for your Facebook page may be a thing of the past, if a court case brought by a federal agency goes the right way. The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint on behalf of an employee fired by her firm after she criticized them on Facebook. Meanwhile, the willy waving between Google and Facebook continues. A Facebook engineer has weighed in with his opinion: Google (emails) and Facebook (social network) are governed by different rules, despite the fact that they’re competing in the same arena (user data and privacy shenanigans).

3. Research in Motion’s tablet, the PlayBook, is expected to have a pricetag of less than $500, says Reuters, placing it firmly in contention with the iPad. It will be available in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2011, and is expected to be available at Target and BestBuy stores, as well as through cellphone carriers. The rest of the world gets their hands on the PlayBook in Q2 of next year.

4. Two oil giants are in the news this morning, but for totally different reasons. As the federal investigation into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues, the man running the inquiry says that there was a “culture of complacency” at BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, leading to the disaster in April of this year. Meanwhile, Shell is under fire as documents relating to its PR strategy following the death of Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The idea was to lovebomb selected NGOs and media outlets–including the BBC, claims the Guardian. The firm was forced to pay out $15.5 million in a New York court of law last year over the execution of Saro-Wiwa and fellow activists, without admitting liability.

5. Japan is next on the list of places to visit for iAd, Apple’s mobile advertising network. The firm has teamed up with a Japanese ad agency, Dentsu Inc., which will be producing and selling ads to users of Apple’s portable devices. The service is expected to launch early next year, said both companies this morning.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.