iFive: Egypt Shuts Web, Microsoft’s Record Finances, PSP2 to be “Affordable,” Elevation Partner Woes, Apple’s 500 China Stores

Friday’s here, one day of work before you can kick back for the weekend. Here’s our early news digest to get you a running start to the day:

It’s 25 years to the day since seven astronauts “slipped the surly bonds of Earth” aboard Space Shuttle Challenger, only to perish shortly after the rocket exploded a mere 73 seconds into the flight. They were victims of bad communication, over-hasty management decisions, and financial pressures. NASA’s learned a lot since then, as has the entire field of Lessons Learned Management. On with the news:


1. Egyptian authorities seem to have 100 closed off access to the Internet, SMS, and BlackBerry services in an attempt to control a public uprising that’s demanding the end of the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak as President. It’s a classic “governments should be afraid of their people” situation, being enacted on the streets and online, and Mubarak’s government is evidently panicking: This act will draw global criticism.

2. Microsoft’s finances reveal it’s had a record-breaking quarter–a surprise to some who foresaw weaker performance. The growth is coming from its Entertainment and Windows divisions, born on the wings of the Kinect/Xbox and Windows 7. The Entertainment division grew 55% year-on-year in fact, and MS claims the Kinect is the fastest-selling consumer electronic device in history. What about netbooks? Oh, they are history.

3. Sony’s quickly moved to reassure the markets about its just-revealed next-gen PlayStation Portable: Namely that it’ll be priced to be “affordable” and not “$599.” There’s also going to be a Wi-Fi-only version available, presumably letting Sony shave more dollars off the price in an Apple-aping move. This sounds good for Sony fans, but market critics must wonder if Sony should’ve at least mentioned this at launch.

4. U2 frontman Bono’s venture capital experiment Elevation Partners–famous backers of Palm’s attempt to challenge the iPhone with the Pre smartphone–is in trouble. A spat between two of its key manager-financers over money has gone public, timed just as EP is trying to assemble a second investment fund. If this plan fails, then EP–which was formed to fund new tech in entertainment–may founder.

5. According to some rumors, Foxconn subsidiary Cybermart has been granted permission to sell Apple products in China. Why’s this news? Because Foxconn is Apple’s key iPhone supplier, and it’s planning 500 stores. Access to an enormous market on this sort of scale could further boost Apple toward being the biggest company in the world.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.


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