This week on TechCrunch: Le Web (le sigh), RIP privacy, the planet of the apps and more

Loiclemeur-LeWeb286I don’t want to write about Le Web this year. Really I don’t.

This time last year, while I was still at the Guardian, I stumbled back to my Parisian hotel room at the end of the first day of the conference and fired off a thousand words rounding up the highs and not-insignificant lows of the event. Those words, along with the title my editor added to them – Freezing cold, no internet, boring: it’s a French web 2.0 conference! – have followed me around ever since.

The truth is, I’m bored with Le Web. I’m bored with the expectation that I’ll be reviewing it again this year. I’m bored with Loic’s clever (and relatively successful) ploy to get me on-side by asking me to moderate a panel called The European Gang. And most of all I’m bored with Maslovian jokes about heat, food and wifi.

But fortunately this year I’m not at the Guardian. And fortunately twenty-seven-thousand of my TechCrunch colleagues were in attendance at LeWeb 09 to provide proper coverage of the event so I don’t have to write an entire column about it. Was it worth going? Sure – I was in London anyway, I didn’t pay for my ticket or accommodation (I stayed in a friend’s family apartment) and it’s always fun to dick around in Paris with my friends. Should you have been there too? That depends.

If you’ve ever been to a conference in the Valley then you’ve seen most of the stars – Marissa Mayer, Jack Dorsey et al before, so probably not. All of the big announcements – the PeekFon, Jolicloud’s netbook OS, Twitter’s upcoming Chirp conference, and the company’s imminent acquisition by Google – were covered by TechCrunch Europe. If you live in Europe and can’t justify a trip west, then sure. It’s was a really professionally-put-together conference, with A-list speakers, giving a taste of America without having to get on a plane. You’ve probably already had to make the same decision about Eurodisney.

Beyond that, there’s not really much I can say – except that the administrative problems from last year were resolved (kudos Geraldine and Loic) – if anything it was too warm, and the only wifi problems were in the speakers’ hotel. The only speakers I saw were Yossi Vardi who looked like a mad old uncle who had just discovered YouTube, and Queen Rania of Jordan whose speech was my highlight of the conference – not for the content (which was clearly written by someone else) but rather for Loic’s brilliantly obsequious “fank you your majesty” response. Good to see the French bowing and scraping to royalty again. That can only end well.

Nothing to declare of the week:

Back in San Francisco, the CrunchPad saga continues to rumble on, and I continue to be banned from writing about it by The Man. You can read The Man’s take on it here.

Non-prospering cheat of the week:

Moving swiftly on – Apple has stamped down on a lying, cheating developer by removing over 1000 apps from its App Store. The apps, built by ‘Molinker’, had attacked a sea of positive reviews, almost all of which appeared to be written by people associated with the developer. iPhone blog iPhoneography smelled a rat and emailed Apple VP Phil Shiller with their suspicions. Days later the apps were removed. Cheats, after all, never prosper.

Planet of the apps of the week:

December 7th 2009 will be remembered for many things – the 68th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the 30th anniversary of my birth – but most importantly of all, for the launch of Google Goggles – the moment when the Internet gained the power of sight. Make no mistake; when your great, great grandchildren sit in their computer-controlled prison cells, breaking digital rocks for their robot overlords, wondering when it all went wrong, this will be the moment they’ll rue. The moment when their ancestors’ Droid phones were first able to identify words and basic shapes and begin to plan their escape. Dystopian future? There’s an app for that. (Still, at least we can watch it all happen in real time.)

Privacy is dead of the week:

More evil-ness, this time from Facebook which has rolled out a new set of privacy controls. Jason sums it up neatly, thus: “Facebook is spinning the news as a win for users. They’re supposedly getting more control than ever over what they’re sharing, and it’s easier than ever to control it. But that’s not the real story. Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb has nailed it: this is Facebook’s move to push people to share with the public.” Arrington and Andrew ‘amateur hater’ Keen had an argument at Le Web over whether (as the former claimed) ‘privacy is dead’. Between Facebook and this week’s launch of Blippy – a service that allows you to broadcast your credit card transactions – it’s certainly not looking well.

And finally of the week:

And finally, Friendster has been bought by Malaysian Payments Company MOL Global. I give precisely as much of a shit about the news as you do.

Have a great week!