iFive: Facebook’s Gmail Rival, Yahoo Downsizing, Online Privacy Watchdog, Kiva WarehouseRobots, Google’s Nexus S Sighted

In today’s edition of the all-singing, all-dancing, all-innovating round-up: Facebook, Yahoo, Google and more.

1. Zuck and his gang are rumored to be introducing Facebook’s very own email system on Monday–Fmail, if you will. The past week’s Facebook-Google spat suddenly makes a whole lot more sense. (Anyone uncertain who to back should digest ReadWriteWeb’s post on the fight.) Project Titan, as it is called, may well be the first step in introducing email addresses. Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley speculates that the system will be include Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, since the two companies struck a deal some months back. The ‘book also announced plans for a green data center in North Carolina.


2. Between 10% and 20% of Yahoo’s staff is going to receive pink slips. In a statement, Yahoo! merely calls the higher figure “misleading and inaccurate,” but Kara Swisher has a little more detail at All Things D, claiming that the jobs will be lost from the product organization department.

3. The Wall Street Journal writes that the White House is to launch an online privacy watchdog. Although not yet confirmed, the brouhaha of this year, with both Facebook and Google being forced to make very high-profile U-turns on their attitudes to user data–and with the accusations that the Obama administration is too close to Google–has made this move inevitable. There’s a newly created task force that will attempt to turn the report’s recommendations into policy, led by Cameron Kerry and Christopher Schroeder.

4. BusinessWeek has a great report on Kiva, makers of the orange ‘bots that use Wi-Fi and digital cameras, can lift up to 1,000 pounds, and are a staple of the warehouses of Zappos and Walgreens. The firm is run by Mike Mountz, a 43-year-old who, after the online grocer he was working for went under, went back to school to study robotics.

5. If you thought Google had had enough of hardware shenanigans, think again: Its second offering from the Nexus line has been introduced. The S comes to you courtesy of Samsung, runs Gingerbread, and it’s a smartphone. S for smartphone? Samsung? Sergey?

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.