E-Textbooks Are Flying Off iBook Shelves, Tumblr Plans East Coast Expansion, RIM CEOs Resign, China’s Weibo Busier Than Twitter

Breaking news from your editors at Fast Company, with updates all day.

Google Tweaks Hotel Search For Time-Strapped Tourists. A new feature on Google’s Hotel Finder integrates some Google Maps features into a sensible search option for travelers. When looking for a hotel in certain select partner cities, Google will show you search results based on how long it would take get to the hotel from a landmark or conference center, on foot or by public transport. — NS


Updated 11:15 a.m. EST

Hitachi To Stop Making Wooo TVs. Intense price competition is behind Hitachi’s recent plans to close down its TV manufacturing plant in Gifu, Japan, by September this year. It will sell other televisions, but will use the Japan facility to manufacture chips and projectors. — NS

E-Textbooks Are Flying Off iBook Shelves. Apple’s Thursday unveiling of its iBooks 2 textbook service and iBook Author creator tool, raised questions about its potential as educational technology with penetrative power. Early sales numbers are suggesting the service has a strong start, though–the books, as Apple products are wont to do, are selling fast. In the first three days since it was released, 350,000 textbooks were downloaded, AllThingsD reports. iBook Author has seen 90,000 downloads. —NS

Tumblr Plans East Coast Expansion. Speaking at the Digital Life Design conference, Tumblr CEO David Karp said that the five-year-old company is planning to eventually expand its operations on the East Coast, with New York being the hub of operations. He also said that the company will be testing newer, community-friendly revenue streams. The company has grown to 120 million members, and is receiving 15 billion page views per month. — NS

Updated 8:30 a.m. EST


RIM CEOs Out. Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have relinquished their roles as RIM‘s co-CEOs. The company has appointed ex-COO Thorsten Heins in their place, as part of a restructuring plan to get a tottering RIM back on its feet. Lazaridis and Balsillie will stay on the company board. In an announcement to RIM employees, Heins marked out a few strategies: “”We are a great innovative company, but sometimes we innovate too much while we’re building a product,” he said. RIM would benefit from more “discipline” about defining when a product was complete. “I want to spend time prototyping, exploring, on R&D while we’re building product on a separate stream.”–NS

China’s San Weibo Busier Than Twitter. China’s microblogging network, Weibo, clocked an 32,312 messages per second at the cusp of the Chinese new year, overtaking Twitter’s busiest moments  of 25,088 tweets per second. And things are looking to get busier, TheNextWeb reports–Weibo’s web services grew 296% in 2011, with about 47% of Chinese population now using the service.NS

Toyota Finds Rare Earth Substitute For EVs. Toyota engineers may have come up with an alternative to rare earth minerals needed for hybrid vehicles and electric car. The company won’t be commercially using the stuff immediately, but this early breakthrough could sever its dependence on China as a major supplier of rare earths, giving the company a lifeline if the price of rare earths doesn’t fall.NS

–Updated 5:45 a.m. EST

[Image: Flickr user zitona]


Friday’s Fast Feed: PIPA Vote Delayed, Google Announces Q4 Earnings, IBM’s Rosy 2012 Forecast, German Court Rejects A Samsung Suit, and more!