iFive: Chinese Web Spying, Twitter on Sale at $10 Billion?, iPad 3 Rumors, Nokia-Microsoft Phones, Designer Dolls-Up “Square”

This is iFive, today’s early, fast tech and innovation news, decoded just so:

On this day in history in 1962 Gary Powers, captured pilot of the revolutionary U-2 spy-plane, was exchanged by the USSR for a Soviet spy who’d been caught in the U.S. Two year’s later on this day Bob Dylan’s iconic “The Times They Are A-Changin'” album was released, and in 2005 North Korea publicly boasted, for the first time, about its nuclear weapons. Now, on with the news:


1. More spying news, from China: Reports suggest major Western energy firms have been the target of a “coordinated, covert and targeted” web attack, intended to reveal business secrets to the China-based hackers. The “Night Dragon” attacks are ongoing, and include major oil companies. The attacks seem similar in skill and reach to the attacks that targeted Google and U.S. government sites.

2. Twitter, darling of the social media world, may be making its biggest fiscal play yet: According to sources who’ve spoken to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter’s holding “low level” acquisition talks with interested parties. The all-important cash figure is reported to be in the $8 billion to $10 billion range, which tells you what a success Twitter’s become–and swiftly.

3. Apple’s iPad 2–the tablet all others will be compared with in 2011–hasn’t arrived yet, but the press is already awash with rumors about the iPad 3. Premature? Not as much as you may think: Rumors hint that some of the improvements debated for use in the iPad 2 will be delayed until a next-gen refresh that will arrive in September. Some of the arguments make sense, and it’s a way for Apple to entirely own the market.

4. There are louder and louder hints that Nokia and Microsoft are close to a deal to bring Windows software to Nokia smartphones in a bid to jump-start Nokia’s ailing business. This time it’s Bloomberg (with the New York Times also chiming in) who’s spoken to insiders with the right kind of knowledge, and we’re now fairly sure that at a press event tomorrow CEO Stephen Elop will reveal the news.

5. Designer Vivienne Tam has partnered with Jack Dorsey’s company to snazz up his neat iPhone credit-card reader peripheral “Square.” Though Tam has a history of working with electronic gadgets, it strikes us as an odd target, as it’s hardly a mass-sales gizmo. Maybe it’s an attempt to inject some excitement into Square before the coming wave of wireless NFC smartphone payments arrives?

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