News Schmooze: Gizmos galore at CeBIT

A plethora of gadgets arrived from Germany, Xbox debuted and Mandrake turned to an unusual source of funding

CeBIT has arrived again, and while other tech trade shows -- particularly those centring on the Internet -- have been a bit more reserved over the past few months, the Hannover event seems to have had no problem continuing to churn out an assortment of gadgets and gizmos from electronic pens to mainframe servers. Strolling about the packed, sweaty show floor this year, the Schmoozer's eyes were particuarly drawn to items of the low-cost variety: like the Soundbug, which turns ordinary everyday items like desks and walls into speakers, and will sell for around £30.
Soundbug turns flat surfaces into speakers
Sony Ericsson aimed to put everything into the pen, with their fabulous emailing device, while Invair got rid of the pen with its Linux PDA, which can be used one-handed with buttons and a scroller.
Users find one-handed Linux PDA gripping
Pen proves mighty in wireless world
Motorola unveiled its surprising (and Walter Benjamin-esque?) theory of "object lust", which due to an unfortunate quote by a senior VP came across sounding a bit like "the ability to rip people off": "We want consumers to see a Motorola phone, say 'wow, that's cool' and buy it. Only later, when they get their bank statement, will they think 'wow, that's what it cost me'."
Motorola strives for maximum desirability And, last but not least, the Duke of York was to be seen at CeBIT in his role as "Special Representative for International Trade and Investment". One can only wonder which items most caught his fancy.
Duke of York marches to CeBIT
The royalty who stayed at home, however, were likely queueing up with the rest of the world at Virgin Megastore for Microsoft's new video game console, which people must have realised by now is actually a fairly large desktop PC in a black plastic case. Xbox is possibly the first console to make a dent in the British economy, judging by the high percentage of consumers planning to take a sickie on the first day of sale. And the police suggested what may be a new yardstick for measuring the popularity of a product, namely the length of time after launch before somebody swipes one. In this case it was just a few hours.
Microsoft has high hopes for Xbox
Man charged with Xbox theft
Xbox UK launch prompts mass sickies BT saw its first setback in its hyperlink case against Prodigy, after a judge ruled that many of the claims in its test case against Prodigy were spurious. Witnesses said the judge found it difficult to stop laughing long enough to hand down the ruling.
BT suffers blow in hyperlink patent case
Mobile phone providers have finally cottoned on to what we mostly want out of text messaging: soft-core porn advertising. At any rate that's what Sainsbury's tested out this week, and Virgin looks to be going in the same direction with a Playboy deal.
Sainsbury's sexy SMS job ad causes complaints
Virgin Mobile gets flirty with Playboy
Microsoft may have got into hot water with security folks by using open-source software, but Mandrake Linux has come up with one idea the software giant won't be borrowing any time soon. Mandrake is soliciting for "subscriptions" to help get it through a rough financial patch that seems to have lingered on for several months now. This is a familiar enough concept in the US, with its public broadcasting stations dependent on donations, but who ever heard of a for-profit company going in that direction? Maybe Linux should get a regular government subsidy.
Mandrake Linux: Join our club
Open-source flaw threatens Microsoft
The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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