Cuil, the just-launched search engine (by former Googlers), has a “very simple” privacy policy:

(W)hen you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

Let’s see how long they can maintain this…

Engadget, the electronics blog, has a detailed iPhone 3G review today. Good overall, but then, near the top, is this whopper:

And its 3G network compatibility finally makes the iPhone welcome the world over, especially after Cupertino decided to ditch its non-traditional carrier partnerships in favor of dropping the handset price dramatically. $200? We’re still a little stunned.

The 3G makes it mostly world-wide in coverage, but the notion that Apple has dropped the handset price to $200 is absolutely, totally bogus.

Apple did nothing of the kind. The company calling itself AT&T is subsidizing the device. But cheaper? Not on your life. In fact, you’ll pay hundreds of dollars more during your subscription period of you buy this thing. (Yes, you’ll get the 3G that the company calling itself AT&T offers as part of the deal, but not many other serious benefits.)

Engadget got suckered by the hype this time. A correction is in order.

Microsoft’s Offer To Buy Yahoo For $44.6 Billion is likely to turn in large part on whether the founders, who still hold a great deal of stock, go with their investors who want to take the money and run. I’m betting they will, reluctantly, though I still believe Yahoo could have a great future as a stand-alone company. More than almost any other Web company, Yahoo understands aggregation and the best of bottom-up media. Microsoft barely has a clue.

But Google is getting pretty worrisome in its own way — too big and powerful to trust. We need large and small counterweights, and perhaps a Microsoft-Yahoo combination will be one of them.

It’s worth noting, meanwhile, that the offer of slightly less than $45 billion isn’t much higher than ExxonMobil’s 2007 profits. The juxtaposition in today’s NY Times, below, is pretty startling.


Walt and Kara at just posted a piece I wrote for them, “Waiting for the MacBook Air Pro” — which begins as follows:

Having seen Apple’s MacBook Air notebook computer up close, I’m as dazzled as everyone else who’s had a chance to examine this delicious piece of industrial design.

Dazzled doesn’t translate to handing over a credit card, however — at least not yet, and not solely because it’s almost never a good idea to buy Apple’s (or anyone else’s) hardware immediately after its initial release.

Even if serious flaws didn’t frequently surface in the company’s first batch of new models, I’d hold off on buying one of these despite my admiration for the genuine accomplishments in this one. Cost isn’t the issue; rather, there are just a few too many feature compromises for my work-style.

Demo is probably the longest lasting of the tech conferences, justly so. Each year a host of companies — 77 this time — demonstrate their products on a stage in front of several hundred technology folks including venture capitalists and other investors.

There are occasional triumphs. I was in the audience at this gathering in the mid-1990s when Palm Computing launched the first Palm Pilot. I wrote in my column that night that these folks had cracked the code for handhelds. A few years later, TiVo became one of those aha! moments.

I’ve also witnesses some spectacular flubs, where demos utterly failed, humiliating the companies’ presenters and pretty much killing their futures, at least in front of this crowd. I’ve had my own speaking messes, so I emphathize.

Will something leap to public conciousness this year? Unlikely. But the array of ideas I’ve already seen this morning, in just the first few products, is already fairly impressive.

Liquid Planner has promise, for example. It’s yet another web application, but this one is pretty intriguing for people who plan complex projects. It’s taking what the Basecamp folks do to a much more granular level, including Gantt charts that reflect uncertainty in scheduling.

Citiport, another web app (most of these are) is a bottom-up aggregation site, created mostly by users, of local favorites in cities people visit. People share information about the places they’ve lived and visited. (Note: I have a conflict here, as we’re encouraging people in Dopplr, a company I co-founded, to do this too, though that’s not the main purpose of Dopplr.) Like other things of this sort, Citiport’s entire business depends on achieving a critical mass of users.

LeapFrog, an interactive tool to help kids learn to read, looks dynamite. It’s getting some buzz in the room.

I was interested in SkyFire, a new mobile web browser, until I discovered it only works on Windows Mobile handhelds. The company says it’s going to support Symbian (good for my Nokia N95), but it’s not remotely competitive with, say, Opera Mini, which runs pretty much everywhere. SkyFire is about mobile multimedia more than anything else, as far as I can tell. And it’s pretty good at that. But this is not my primary purpose in using a mobile, and the comparisons the demonstrators are making with other phones are therefore not quite fair. Interesting app, though…

Joggle, from a company called Fabrik, shows you your own data from a variety of places in a central view. it aggregates from local and remote sources — “access to all your stuff,” as a demonstrator explains. This is on the track of something valuable.

SpeakLike does almost real-time chat translation, though not always instantly, with what’s described as a hybrid of automation and human translators. The idea is fascinating, but there are a lot of potential gotchas. This service will need plenty of disclaimers, but there’s great potential.

The first mini-flop of the day: A demo of noise-cancelling system from Step Labs, which didn’t work well enough to make me want it — yet. But there’s some interesting work going on in that company, and I’ll keep an eye on what they do in the future.

I’m getting too much email about NotchUp already. This is company that claims to pay people for interviewing for a new job. You set an interview price. The security problems are obvious. What if your current company finds you here? You can block one domain, but if your company’s recruiters only use their own email domains they’re idiots, and no doubt they’re also using third-party folks to scan for employees.

New portal: — for parents to help figure out the education system and get resources for their kids. “All in one place” seems to be the mantra.

I’ll be posting more as I see interesting items during the day…

(Note: The Kauffman Foundation, co-funder of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s journalism school (my new gig), is a major sponsor of Demo this year. This is an interesting branching-out for an organization like Kauffman.)