THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
New Macs could get a splash of color
After years sheathed in white plastic, laptops from Apple could come in a choice of shades. Plus: PayPal proves to be no tax haven.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Apple's new MacBook laptops may come in two colors besides white, AppleInsider reports. It's been almost eight years since Steve Jobs unwrapped the original Bondi blue iMac - and since 2002, all of Apple's computers have been either white or metallic. Apple's color experiments came to an end with the quickly eliminated "Flower Power" and "Blue Dalmatian" models of the iMac. One hitch for Apple (Research): Stocking multiple colors means producing and tracking more models, a logistical feat Apple hasn't grappled with in years. Additionally, some retailers might refuse to stock more than one color, as Best Buy (Research) did in 1999, and betting wrong on a color could mean costly inventory pile-ups at Apple's own chain of retail stores.

PayPal is no tax haven

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It's tax time, and things just got a bit more tricky for anyone planning some last-minute money laundering. The IRS is on the lookout to see if any of PayPal's 100 million-plus customers are using the service to funnel cash in and out of overseas bank accounts. TechDirt reports that the IRS yesterday got permission from a federal court in San Jose to ask PayPal for information on users with financial ties to some 30 countries thought to be tax havens. PayPal hasn't handed over the data yet, saying it takes the privacy of its customers "really seriously," but the scuttlebutt online is that PayPal will cooperate fully with the authorities, as parent company eBay (Research) has always done. Yale Law School blog LawMeme points out that eBay officials have said the company "will provide all sorts of information to any law enforcement agency for any reason whatsoever."

VOIP calls for shopping spree

Pick up your Internet phone and listen closely: That's the sound of eager acquirers calling on VOIP startups. First came Comverse's acquisition of Netcentrix, then an Alcatel unit snapped up Canadian outfit VoiceGenie, and finally Skype said it would buy Scandinavian firm Sonorit. What's driving it all, says Business 2.0 senior writer Om Malik, is the push to buy VOIP infrastructure technology -- the picks and shovels of the Internet telephony gold rush. While consumer VOIP startups are battling ever-dropping prices, their suppliers are making a small fortune equipping them with gear and software.

Google finds its voice

Google (Research) wants to talk, and Google wants to listen. No, the search engine isn't entering therapy - it's just rolling out a host of audio features. Ars Technica reports that the company has patented voice-recognition technology for search queries. That would enable Google users to call in and speak their requests for, say, pizza parlors near Brookline, Mass., and have a Google speech synthesizer program speak the search results to them. Google Audio, meanwhile, seems to be the new name for dMarc Broadcasting, the automated radio-advertising company Google recently acquired. Google's hiring a number of sales and support personnel for its new radio subsidiary. Could Google one day be placing radio-style ads in its voice search results? Stay tuned. Top of page

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