Joseph Menn

Apple’s iPods on occasion catch fire or explode, but federal officials and the company have declined to issue a recall because the accidents are so rare, according to a Seattle television news report. After battling for months, station KIRO obtained 800 pages of documents from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Those files include 15 complaints of smoking or fire, including some depictions of iPods igniting while teenagers slept. With 175m units sold, however, fewer than one in a million have been reported for that defect to the CPSC, though of course, not all such problems are reported. This being America, litigation is pending.

  • A Yahoo / Microsoft deal could still be struck if it involved “a boatload of money.” That was the word from Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s chief executive, who said her company is no longer in serious talks with Microsoft over a deal to combine their search efforts. But she acknowledged that negotiations between the two companies were continuing “a little bit”.
  • Time Warner is close to a decision to spin off all of its AOL internet business, according to three people in contact with the company. Although a decision has not yet been finalised, executives prefer spinning off the whole division rather than a part. Over the past year, Time Warner has considered spinning off either its advertising-driven “audience business” or its legacy dial-up internet business, they say.

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Chris Nuttall

Which Silicon Valley phone to buy this summer? The new Palm Pre with its scintillating operating system and clever design, or the old iPhone with an updated OS containing features it should have had in the first place?

That may be too simple a comparison. How about making it a choice between a phone with few exciting applications from third-party developers to one with more than 25,000 apps and games to choose from, many enabled with a new sophistication? Read more

  • Apple has introduced a new version of its smallest MP3 player, the shuffle. It’s almost half the size of the old one and has twice the capacity at 4Gb – enough for 1,000 songs. New to the iPod line is its “VoiceOver” ability – press a button and it speaks the name of the artist and song.
  • Microsoft revealed more details of its Windows Marketplace for Mobile – its version for Windows Mobile phones of Apple‘s App Store for the iPhone. Like Apple, Microsoft will take a 30 per cent cut from developers of applications, but it emphasises “transparency throughout the certification process,” something Apple has been criticised as lacking.
  • Google said it would begin using behavioural targetting for its ads – showing ads related to a user’s interests. It promises more relevant and effective ads for users and advertisers respectively, but the practice is controversial.

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ipod_classic_fam.jpgNews that Apple is in talks with record labels about a possible ‘all-you-can-eat’ model for iTunes is making the rounds on the blogs this morning following last night’s story in the FT.

Over at TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld asks whether music companies would be willing to go along with a subscription model. We think the answer is clearly yes. Read more