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Today in Tech: Is 2013 the year of the Phablet?

Also: Lenovo updates products with multitouch for Windows 8; Did Google really beat the FTC?

Handset makers scurry to join the Year of the Phablet [REUTERS]

ZTE, which collaborated with Italy’s designer Stefano Giovannoni for the Nubia phablet, is scheduled to launch its 5-inch Grand S, while Huawei brings out the Ascend Mate, sporting a whopping 6.1-inch screen, making it only slightly smaller than Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet.

“Users have realized that a nearly 5-inch screen smartphone isn’t such a cumbersome device,” said Joshua Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research in Britain.

Why does everyone think Google beat the FTC? [THE NEW REPUBLIC]

The law-enforcing agencies of the federal government are powerful, and unlike a football team, aren’t supposed to try to win at any cost; they are supposed to do what is right for the country. The Commission was right to investigate Google, right to stop the practices it did, and also right to settle the case instead of beating the firm into submission. In the end, as corporate defendants go, Google was pretty clean. What saved the company weren’t the millions Google wasted lobbying Senators or paying Republicans to be its friends. It was its engineers, who designed its services in a way that maximized effectiveness while avoiding rampant illegality.

Can social media sell soap? [THE NEW YORK TIMES]

Growing legions of marketing consultants are pushing social media as the can’t-miss future. They argue that pitches are more likely to hit home if they come from friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Google+. That’s the new word of mouth, long the gold standard in marketing. And the rivers of data that pour into these networks fuel the vision of precision targeting, in which ads are so timely and relevant that you welcome them. The hopes for such a revolution have fueled a market frenzy around social networks — and have also primed them for a fall.

Lenovo updates its laptops and all-in-ones with multitouch for Windows 8 [THE VERGE]

Rounding up the new line-up are a pair of all-in-ones. The Lenovo C540 is an entry-level all-in-one with a 23-inch multitouch 1080p display, Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce 615 graphics. The IdeaCentre A730, however, is a little more impressive. Positioned to take Apple’s iMac head-on, the update to last year’s IdeaCentre A720 is just an inch thick. It’s configurable with a 2560 x 1440 multitouch display, Core i7 processor, 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 745M graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hybrid drive.

Unlike Apple’s all-in-one, the IdeaCentre can fold down completely flat to function as a multitouch surface on your desk. It’ll be available this June starting at $1,499, although for that price you’ll be getting a standard 1080p touchscreen display; Lenovo has yet to reveal how much the quad HD upgrade will set you back.

Twitter’s challenge for 2013: Resisting state demands for censorship [PAID CONTENT]

The conventional wisdom in many circles is that Twitter’s biggest challenge lies in figuring out how to monetize its growing user base. And perhaps for the company’s venture-capitalist backers or other startup founders, that is the most important question it has to answer — but it is far from the only one. Recent events involving the French and German governments, and even the British legal system, have highlighted another crucial issue the network will have to struggle with, one that is arguably just as important to its future: namely, can it grow internationally and still maintain its self-professed status as the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party?”

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