THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
MySpace Messenger on the way
News Corp. may be planning its own foray into instant messaging. Plus: A shower of Apple products in April?
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine - When kids aren't blogging on MySpace, they're probably using instant messenger programs. So why wouldn't News Corp.'s (Research) MySpace get into IM, too? Peter Cashmore, a strategy consultant and entrepreneur who tracks new Internet startups on the Mashable blog, snagged screenshots of the new MySpace Messenger, which is expected to launch shortly. Details on the product are scant, but the screenshots show one intriguing detail: A musical-note icon, suggesting that MySpace's IM software will let you see the music that your friends are listening to as you chat.

A shower of Apple products in April

Microsoft employees feel maligned
Microsofties allege that Redmond's performance review system is rigged.Read more.

In January, Apple (Research) CEO Steve Jobs hinted at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco that the company might make more announcements around its 30th anniversary on April 1. Now AppleInsider has word that an Intel (Research)-based iBook is coming. Depending on manufacturing schedules, Apple might announce it either March 28 or April 4, the website reports. Observers believe that Apple has more than a splashy anniversary at stake: The iBook is popular in the educational market, and Apple needs to announce a new iBook soon, before schools start planning their fall buys.

Google goes to Mars

Wondering what's up with Google's logo today? The "o" has turned into a miniature version of the Red Planet. If you click on it, you're taken to Google Mars, a website that lets you surf photos of Mars's surface. The Googlist blog notes that Google (Research) has registered dozens of domain names like and, suggesting more solar-system websites on the way. And while Google local can't turn up any local Mars businesses yet, according to a recent Business 2.0 report there are plenty in the works.

Tax data for sale

Consumer-affairs groups and bloggers have picked up on a proposed IRS rule change that they find disturbing: A proposal to allow tax preparers to sell consumers' tax-return data to marketers. (Current regulations require tax preparers to keep the data private, though they can use it to offer customers other financial products.) Blogger Pam Spaulding says the new regulations could make it easier to send sensitive tax data offshore, and the Consumerist blog calls the proposal a "gold mine for identity thieves."

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