By JP Mangalindan
January 3, 2013

Also: Apple reportedly wants to buy Waze; why there’s no getting around Google+. 

Bono on how technology can transform the world [MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW]

If you had a budget equivalent to the one that put astronauts on the moon, what problems would you try to solve?

There’s an exciting thought. The Apollo program in its day was 4 percent of the federal budget. All U.S. overseas assistance is just 1 percent, with 0.7 percent going to issues that affect the poorest people. I believe that extreme poverty is the biggest challenge we have. That term is a complex one, but on many aspects, we know what works. For example, with Apollo-level resources, you could finish the job on HIV/AIDS. Get rid of it, done. Malaria too. You could vaccinate every kid against deadly diseases we in the West hardly think about. You could boost farming productivity in Africa, which is twice as effective at reducing poverty as anything else. Lastly, you could kick-start electrifying Africa. Electricity means small businesses can function and hire people, medicines can be refrigerated, kids can study after the sun sets. Electrifying Africa would inspire the kind of economic development that would mean, eventually, they wouldn’t need our 4 percent or 1 percent. Aid is just a bridge, but where there are troubled waters, it’s needed.

Is Apple plotting a route to a Waze acquisition? Rumours on the road point to yes. [TECHCRUNCH]

After all, Waze is already a data partner for Apple’s Maps app and was the only app to gain meaningful marketshare after the Apple Maps fail. We have reached out to both. An apple spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.” We got a “we never comment on rumors” from Waze. [UPDATE: Another source confirms that negotiations are advanced, but Waze wants $750M and Apple is willing to do $400M plus $100m in incentives. Waze had less than $1M in revenues last year (primarily from ads). Negotiations may take awhile.]

There’s no avoiding Google+ [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]

The impetus comes from the top. Google Chief Executive Larry Page has sought more aggressive measures to get people to use Google+, two people familiar with the matter say. Google created Google+ in large part to prevent Facebook from dominating the social-networking business.

Both Facebook and Google make the vast bulk of their revenue from selling ads. But Facebook has something Google wants: Facebook can tie people’s online activities to their real names, and it also knows who those people’s friends are. Marketers say Google has told them that closer integration of Google+ across its many properties will allow Google to obtain this kind of information and target people with more relevant (and therefore, more profitable) ads.

Canonical unveils Ubuntu phone OS that doubles as a “full PC” [ARS TECHNICA]

The Ubuntu interface will feature the following:

1. Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.

2. Deep content immersion—controls appear only when the user wants them.

3. A beautiful global search for apps, content, and products.

4. Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.

5. Both native and Web or HTML5 apps.

6. Evolving personalized art on the welcome screen.

Analyst upgrades push Facebook stock up 5%, nudging its market back over the $60 billion mark. [THE NEXT WEB]

Merrill Lynch anticipates that mobile revenue will pass desktop revenue for the social giant in 2014, an almost fantastical pronouncement:

We are raising our mobile news feed estimates in our bottom-up ad model to $2.37 billion in 2013 and $4.0 billion in 2014, up from $2.0 billion and $3.3 billion previously, and we expect mobile to surpass desktop ad revenue in 2014.

2013: Talk gets cheaper, TV gets smarter [ALL THINGS D]

Meanwhile, another big trend is emerging: Apple’s model of one company making the entire device—hardware, operating system, core apps and an online ecosystem—is beginning to take hold elsewhere. In October, Microsoft unveiled its first computer, the Surface tablet. The company will follow it up as soon as this month with a second, more powerful version. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft also made its own smartphone this year.

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