iFive: PlayBook’s Music Store, Apps vs Open Source, Apple Switches Chip Maker, Microsoft Cloud Music Plan, FTC vs Patent Trolls

Wednesday’s here, it’s bright and early, and the world’s already come up with some new tech news for you to peruse:

If you’re fed up of reading an Internet peppered with news about Charlie Sheen, then take heart: There’s now a browser plug-in that’ll censor Sheen-related references for you. If you’re fed up of reading a Net full of Apple references, then tough luck–there’s real talk that Apple was testing a 64GB iPhone version, as a prototype has leaked. On with the news.


1. RIM’s PlayBook tablet is the company’s great hope to challenge the iPad–and it just got a nice boost: At launch, in the U.S., it’ll have its own extensive music store. RIM’s struck a deal with 7digital, a multinational entity that’s already popular on BlackBerry phones, to have the 7digital app pre-loaded on the PlayBook giving users access to about 12 million music tracks, on a per-track payment basis.

2. Open source principles may be under fire from an odd source: smartphones. A study of apps on the iOS and Android platforms has found that some 70% of them violate open source licenses in different ways–either by not making their own source code (which uses some open code) open, or including the license text itself. Some apps even claim ownership of the code in their own EULAs.

3. Apple seems to have made a business decision to move away from its rival Samsung, and has chosen a new manufacturer–TSMC–to make its A5 CPUs that’ll go in the iPad 2 (and presumably iPhone 5 and updated Apple TV). The chips will be made on a 40nm process, unlike Samsung’s 45nm process, implying a boosted electrical efficiency and a potential performance that matches the competing Tegra 2 chip.

4. Microsoft may be ramping up to release a cloud-based media service, dubbed Ventura, aimed at challenging Apple’s iTunes ecosystem and for delivering music, video and other content to Microsoft’s Windows phones, desktops, and potentially TVs too. In the light of revelations about Google‘s plans in the cloud-music sphere it’s timely, and could hint Microsoft hasn’t given up on its Zune ecosystem.

5. Is the FTC preparing to move against patent trolls? It’s just released a report that highlights the damaging behavior of “patent assertion entities” (people who mostly use patents to sue, versus people who patent inventions but don’t act on them–such as universities). The FTC seems to be suggesting the cure is to enforce less vague patents and that a valid patent needs to involve more than just a simple invention stage.

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