TechBytes: Google Pocket Translator

In TechBytes, Sprint texting plan, iPad vs. netbooks, McDonald's marketing.

May 7, 2010— -- Google has turned cell phones into pocket translators. The company has launched a new featurefor its Goggles application that can translate text using camera phones. For example, if you're in a French restaurant and can't read the menu, just snap a picture of the words and the app will convert it for you. The service currently reads English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with more languages to come.

Sprint Texting Plan

Sprint will begin offering some new prepaid wireless plans next week that focus more on texting than talking. Sprint will introduce three plans aimed at young people that include unlimited text messaging, e-mail and web access. The plans start at $25 per month for 300 minutes of calling. The plans are cheap but the phones are not. Carriers do not subsidize the phones for prepaid service as much as they do for contract customers.

iPad vs. Netbooks

Apple's iPad appears to have taken a big bite out of the market for netbooks. Research from Morgan Stanley shows sales of the tiny laptops have shrunk significantly since the iPad was introduced in January, and then fell even more when the tablets went on sale last month. Apple CEO Steve Jobs called netbooks "junk," saying they "aren't good at anything." Considering Apple sold 1 million iPads in one month, others seem to agree.

McDonald's Location Marketing

Facebook is expected to launch location-based status updates soon, and McDonald's will be the first company to use it as a marketing tool. The social-networking site will let users post their location within status updates. McDonald's is building an app that would allow users to check in at its restaurants, and then see a featured product targeted to that location, according to Advertising Age magazine. It could also mean free food for letting your friends know you're eating at McDonald's.

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