THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Google drive roils startups
An online hard drive from the monolith of Mountain View could threaten a host of online-storage companies. Plus: Samsung launches an iPod Nano rival.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - As word leaked out about Google's plans for an online hard drive that can store users' files on Google servers, many observers wondered what would happen to the host of startups that already offer such services.'s Aaron Levie points out that his company already offers the service that Google is only thinking about today, though he concedes that Google's entry into the business could mean a bumpy road ahead. And the competition isn't just small fry: a Google (Research) online-drive service would also compete with offerings from Time Warner's (Research) AOL, which acquired Xdrive last fall.

Samsung launches iPod Nano rival

Macs are cheaper than PCs by half
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Korea's top electronics maker has long tried to launch a hit MP3 player, but to date, Samsung's efforts have floundered. Anything But iPod says that the Samsung YP-Z5 may be the first to break out. The device is slightly heavier and thicker than Apple's (Research) iPod Nano, but it's priced similarly at $200 for a 2-gigabyte version and $250 for 4 gigabytes, and comes in black and silver. The brushed-metal casing and plastic screen are designed to be scratch-resistant -- smart features, since many users complain about the Nano's propensity for scratches. The YP-Z5's on-screen interface, designed by one of the creators of the original iPod, won praise from Anything But iPod, but the music-downloading software got complaints: Users can't drag and drop music files onto a YP-Z5 from a PC desktop, as some MP3 players allow.

AOL opens up AIM -- sort of

AOL wants programmers to play around with AIM, the world's most popular instant-messaging service. The online service is releasing specifications that allow coders and webmasters to include its instant-messaging capabilities in other software, in a move that AOL hopes will extend AIM's popularity. One small hitch: Despite the popularity of third-party messenger software like Trillian, which works with AIM, Yahoo (Research) Messenger, Microsoft's (Research) MSN Messenger, and others, AOL forbids the use of its service with competing IM networks. That means programmers can't use AOL's newly released specs to write software that is compatible with AIM rivals.

TiVo on the go

Verizon Wireless has struck an exclusive deal with TiVo (Research) to allow cell-phone subscribers to program their TiVo digital video recorders on the go. MocoNews, a mobile-content news website, reports that Verizon and TiVo will charge $5 a month for the service, on top of TiVo's $12.95/mo. subscription fee. That struck some observers as a high price to pay, considering that startup Orb Networks already offers a free TiVo-scheduling service that is accessible via cell phone.


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