by Michael Arrington on January 15, 2009

Representatives from Microsoft (Dean Hachamovitch), Opera (Christen Krogh), Mozilla (Mike Shaver) and Google (Sundar Pichal) met at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley tonight for a panel called “Browsers are Hot Again!”, moderated by Businessweek columnist Steve Wildstrom.

The event is timely. There has never been such robust competition in the browser space. Google recently brought Chrome out of beta, and Microsoft’s GM of Internet Explorer Dean Hachamovitch told me earlier today that the Release Candidate of Internet Explorer 8 would be released “sometime this month.”

Notably absent from the panel was Apple, although their Safari browser was brought up repeatedly as an important mobile platform, and Safari’s underlying Webkit javascript engine was also praised as innovative.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

Today, iLike released a social playlist app that lets you create a music playlsit and embed it on any Website. Then through Friend Connect, anyone can sign in and change or add to the playlist. I’ve embedded one below seeded with five songs that I’ve called TechCrunch House Party. Go ahead and add to it, but only good songs, please. Or create your own.

by Jason Kincaid on January 15, 2009

Tonight Hulu will stream outgoing President George W. Bush’s farewell address live. The speech will begin at 5PM PST/8PM EST.

On Tuesday, the site will also be streaming President-Elect Obama’s inauguration speech.

by Jeff Widman on January 15, 2009

Want to work as the software engineer for Or a healthcare CTO? Or as a Software Development Engineer for the Windows Live Social Network?

Jobs are available in Seattle, New York, Austin, San Francisco, or Mountain View, CA.

(Here at TechCrunch, we’re looking for a Rails Developer.)

Some other jobs currently on CrunchBoard:

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

Earlier this month, Microsoft Research released Songsmith, a song-making app that works only on Windows. To promote the app it released what might very well be the worst promo video ever, featuring a girl singing in front of her laptop about how great Songsmith is.

Besides just being painful to watch (see for yourself below), the laptop she is using to show her Dad how to use Songsmith is a Mac! Did I mention that Songsmith only works on PCs? Whoever made the video thought they could fool everyone by covering up the Apple logo and the rest of the laptop with stickers. Or maybe they knew that would be the only way anybody would bother to watch the video.

(Hat tip to reader Doug Hirsch for pointing this out).

by Jason Kincaid on January 15, 2009

SGN has just released the latest update to its smash-hit iPhone game iBowl, which closed out 2008 as the 4th most popular game on the App Store. The version incorporates network support, allowing users to see what their friends online have just bowled, and adds another dimension to an already-great game.

We’re big fans of the Wii-like series of iPhone games to come from SGN. The games, which ask you to swing your iPhone around to mimic actions like swinging a golf club or toss a free-throw, have been extremely popular, with iBowl alone seeing over 4 million downloads.

But while these apps are innovative, when they were first released they failed to tap into the iPhone’s network effect - you could play with a few friends in the same room, but the games didn’t take advantage of the iPhone’s integrated Wi-Fi and cell network capabilities.

by Michael Arrington on January 15, 2009

MySpace is building a fully functional webmail product, we’ve learned from sources with knowledge of the product. MySpace mail will compete with services like Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Gmail and AOL Mail, and will on launch be the third largest webmail provider in the world.

All MySpace users will be assigned an email address of [username] The product is still in development, and we don’t know when it will be released.

The first hint of the new service was a reassignment of some MySpace employee email addresses to [name], which people have noticed. This is a sign that they are preparing to assign email addresses to users, which is exactly how Yahoo handled the transition when they launched Yahoo Mail in 1997 - Yahoo employees moved to email addresses. We’ve subsequently confirmed that MySpace is currently building a webmail product.

by Jason Kincaid on January 15, 2009

Vik Singh of Yahoo’s BOSS team has just launched a new search engine called TweetNews that mashes up Yahoo News stories with some of the hottest topics on Twitter. The result is a news engine that is significantly more timely than common news aggregators like Google News and Yahoo’s standard news site.

In his blog post describing the new release, Singh explains that sorting Yahoo News results by the “recent” category ranks them by the time at which they were published, which is a poor measure of relevance. Some news sites try to measure the relevance of breaking news by looking at how many news publications have covered the same story, but this doesn’t work well for breaking news, as more stale stories tend to rise to the top because they have more related articles.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

A U.S. Airways plane leaving New York City crashed in the Hudson River a few hours ago, possibly due to a bird striking the engine. Rescue operations are under way. Apparently all passengers are safely off the plane now. But I’ll tell you one thing: it’s freezing in New York City today. I can only imagine what it must have been like on the water.

Pictures of the plane floating in the river are already on Flickr, Tumblr, and TwitPic (which seems to be overloaded right now). In fact, the picture above was taken by Janis Krums who Twittered it from his iPhone, and posted via TwitPic.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

Some new data from video ad network BrightRoll suggests that Web video advertising is suffering along with every other category BrightRoll places video ads on top media and professional broadcast TV sites rather than user-generated video. In other words, this is the inventory that all the advertisers want, but there supposedly isn’t enough of it. Yet 50 percent of this “broadcast quality” video inventory goes unsold.

Amd while more advertising dollars keep pouring into this segment of Web video (BrightRoll claims its revenues grew 172 percent annually in the fourth quarter of 2008, up 12 percent sequentially from the third quarter—although it gives no absolute numbers), the rates advertisers are willing to pay keep coming down.

by Jason Kincaid on January 15, 2009

There are countless Flash games on the web, but weeding through them to find the one you’re looking for can be a challenge. Heyzap the first company out of Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups, is looking to offer users a comprehensive database of the web’s best games, along with the ability to embed those games wherever they’d like. In short, they’re looking to become a YouTube for Flash gaming.

But unlike YouTube, Co-founder Immad Akhund says that Heyzap isn’t necessarily meant to serve as a destination site, but is instead focusing on its widget (which has an integrated catalog of available games) as well as forming partnerships with publishers looking to integrate Flash games into their sites. The widget itself seems fairly well designed, with games sorted into categories like “Sports” and “Puzzles”. However, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to search by keyword, which could become frustrating if you want to search for a specific game.

by Scott Merrill on January 15, 2009

Windows 7I still haven’t tried the Windows 7 beta, but everywhere I look I see more and more people speaking very positively about it (our own Dave Freeman positively shines with happiness talking about it). Truth be told, I’m not very interested in operating systems these days: the overwhelming majority of things I use my computers for are done through my web browser, so the OS is becoming less and less relevant to me. I use Ubuntu, and am reasonably happy with it, but according to some Windows 7 will put the final nail in the coffin of desktop Linux.

by Jeff Widman on January 15, 2009

Enterprise RSS promised to be far more than just Google Reader on steroids.

On Monday, Marshall Kirkpatrick claimed enterprise RSS is dead–citing Newsgator’s continued infusion of cash as evidence the market is dead. Brad Feld responded with his thoughts on why enterprise RSS is alive.

Yesterday, I spoke with JB Holston, Newsgator’s CEO, and asked him for his thoughts.

by Greg Kumparak on January 15, 2009

Bitstream has just launched into private beta with their free WebKit-based mobile browser, BOLT, which they’re claiming is the fastest J2ME browser of the lot. They’re only letting a few hundred people into the beta at a time, and we just got the first lot of 500 invites. Looking to put it through the paces with the likes of Opera Mini? Read on to find out how to get beta access.

by Michael Arrington on January 15, 2009

If there’s one thing we can all take away from Steve Jobs stepping down temporarily from Apple, it’s this: People love Apple like no other brand, and they are rightfully scared that an Apple without Steve Jobs is not really Apple at all. (we also know that CNBC’s Jim Goldman got pwnd, but that’s another story).

How sick is Steve Jobs? His message is ominous: “my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” but Jobs left Apple before in 2004 for Pancreatic cancer surgery and came back strong. If he’s able, Steve Jobs will come back.

Frankly, I don’t want to know anything further about his health. Yes, it is very relevant to Apple’s stock price because there is no other person who can effectively lead that company. He’s a national treasure and can have his moments of crankiness and paranoia. I’d rather have that than just another vanilla tech exec who reads too many self help and management books.

All the press the last few days about Steve Jobs’ health is really just a tribute to the man and the company. What other top brand has this kind of customer loyalty? None. Apple is on the verge of becoming a for-profit religion among users despite its flaws, and they’ve transformed not one but three industry segments with their PC, music player and mobile phone products.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

YouTube wants to be on your TV set bad. It’s squeezing its way in through Apple TV, TiVo, and now videogame consoles: the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PS3. Just point those videogame browsers to and you can now watch a customized version of YouTube from your couch. The YouTube Blog reports:

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

Sharpcast has raised a $10 million round from existing investors Sigma Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Selby Venture. This brings the total raised to $26.5 million. Sharpcast offers file-syncing through its SugrarSync service, which syncs data across multiple devices and the cloud.

Syncing is becoming a serious technology trend as people split up their digital lives across devices and the Web. It is one of the promises of Windows Live Mesh from Microsoft, which won the Crunchie for best technology innovation. Apple offers syncing through its MobileMe service. Startups like Sharpcast are looking to carve out their own niche here with both free and subscription services.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

MySpace Music added a few hundred thousand songs to its streaming music service today by signing up four more independent-label aggregators (Nettwerk Music Group, INgrooves, IRIS Distribution, and RoyaltyShare) plus indie label Wind-up Records. This comes at a time when Facebook is still facing hurdles to launching its own music service.

by Michael Arrington on January 15, 2009

Yahoo has turned on deep links and images from Wikipedia in its search results as part of its overall effort to add structured data from third parties via the Search Monkey platform.

What this means - when a Wikipedia result is returned for a query (and this happens a lot, see this search for TechCrunch for example where it is the second result), Yahoo will include deep links to the first four sections of the article, an image if it’s available and a text summary. I’ve added a before and after image for the TechCrunch search below.

The new Wikipedia module is turned on by default, along with existing modules for Flickr, Yelp, LinkedIn, CitySearch, Zagat and others. Any of the modules can be turned off here.

by Erick Schonfeld on January 15, 2009

Do you have a good idea for President-Elect Barack Obama, a concrete policy proposal? All week long, Obama’s transition site has been soliciting policy proposals from people across the country through an app called the Citizen’s Briefing Book. Friday is the last day it will be accepting ideas, so submit yours now.

The Citizen’s Briefing Book is very similar to the Open Questions app the site was running before the New Year, which solicited questions from the populace and let visitors to the site vote up the best ones. Open Questions was based on Google Moderator. The Citizen’s Briefing Book is powered by’s CRM Ideas product, which runs on and is used by Starbucks and Dell to solicit ideas from customers.