THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Google's Wi-Fi plans falter
Higher network costs revealed in a test could dash plans for free Wi-Fi. Plus: Microsoft, Qualcomm kiss and make up.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor, and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - In its hometown of Mountain View, Google is preparing to launch the first of many planned free, citywide Wi-Fi networks that may one day blanket the nation. But the search engine is running into some technical glitches. A city official says that the network may need more access points -- those are radios that broadcast an Internet-access signal -- to provide the expected coverage, and the launch of the network could be delayed until July. That's a big problem: Having to deploy more hardware could change the economics behind Google's (Research) free Wi-Fi plans. The company is counting on increased Web browsing and searching by Wi-Fi users to generate enough advertising to subsidize the cost of all that hardware.

Microsoft, Qualcomm kiss and make up

Apple laptops lose power
Reports of battery problems tarnish its new MacBook Pro laptop line. Plus: Antispam company blamed for blog outage. (more)

The last time Microsoft (Research) and Qualcomm (Research) did a big deal, it didn't end well. WirelessKnowledge, their joint venture aimed at bringing corporate email to cell phones, launched in 1998, but the partners hung up on it in 2001. Now, the two companies have struck a deal that plays to their strengths. Qualcomm will adapt Windows Mobile for its line of cell-phone chips, making it easier for cell-phone makers to build the Microsoft operating system into their phones. Up until now, Qualcomm had favored its own competing Brew operating system for cell phones. Unstrung says the deal could help "raise Microsoft's profile in the smartphone world."

MySpace filters rivals, not porn

Here's a conundrum: Why is News Corp.'s (Research) MySpace so quick to filter out mentions of social-networking rivals from its users' pages, but so inept at blocking pornographic pictures? Massachusetts attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly is asking the latter question, demanding that the service do a better job of verifying users' identities, up its minimum age to 18, and add more staff to screen and delete violent and sexually explicit images. Meanwhile, Valleywag notes that Buzznet, a rival social-networking service, is the latest competitor to get caught in MySpace's content filters. Users trying to post photos from their BuzzNet profiles on MySpace find that they're blocked. MySpace pulled a similar stunt with YouTube last year, but backed down after a backlash from MySpace users.

Your PlayStation Portable is calling

Just when you thought convergence had run its course, Gadget zine T3 reports that Sony's (Research) popular PSP and Nintendo's DS gaming devices may soon double as mobile phones -- or perhaps we should say quadruple as mobile phones, since the devices are already capable of playing games, movies, and music. According to T3, "a source close to Internet telephony leader Vonage" says the company is working on software that would put VOIP calling functions into the devices. Digg readers generally welcomed the news, though some were concerned about phone calls draining batteries, and skeptics recalled Nokia's (Research)ill-fated N-Gage phone, an earlier attempt to merge gaming and cell phones. Top of page

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