A Fool Looks Back

A is for Apple, and "annihilation"
The new iPhones are here! Folks lined up at Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) stores to get their hands on the new 3G iPhones on Friday morning. "Twice as fast, half the price" has been Apple's marketing battle cry, as the new cell phones allow for faster Web surfing and come at an entry-level of price tag of $199 (versus $399 for the first generation's entry-level version).

Yes, new buyers will be paying more each month for the speedier data, but it doesn't seem to matter. The iPhone has been hot since last summer's debut, and now it has the price point to really take the device to the masses.

Friday also marked the debut of Apple's App store, where owners of both generations of Apple's devices can download more than 500 native applications, including premium-priced games and programs, as well as free software.

Other handset makers like Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) may have phones with lower price points and nifty features. Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) may try to make Samsung's Instinct the ultimate winner. Smartphone giant Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) may have nailed the corporate e-mail market, and may provide superior texting with its built-in keyboard. It doesn't matter. The industry has to respond to Apple's coolness.

The 3G iPhone is ringing. Is the competition brave enough to answer?     

Google, in color
Is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) biting off more than it can virtually chew? The website launched Lively this week, entering the seemingly crowded realm of virtual worlds. Sites like Second Life and Club Penguin keep members connected with live avatars, custom-tailored homes, and a limited range of actions and emotions.

Lively isn't a familiar place for Google. The leading search engine is used to collecting hefty bounties for delivering leads to advertisers. Internet users go to Google, because they need to go somewhere else.

Lively doesn't play that way. It goes with you, turning pages into dynamic hangouts. Unlike most dot-com giants, Google has rarely wanted to be sticky. There is far more money in "go away" cost-per-click advertising than impressions-based marketing. Now Lively wants users to stick around, move virtual furniture, and get chatty. Google serves up ads on News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) MySpace, but now it wants to compete for the same Net-addicted teens.

What has this world come to?

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz


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