The new ‘It’ gadget
Okay, so Google itself isn’t releasing a phone. But the company has teamed up with several other wireless businesses to help them turn cell phones into appropriately made-over tiny wireless computers. Google has always given away software such as Gmail for free, preferring instead to profit from customized advertisements. The device — which gadget-freaks have dubbed the Google phone due to the brand’s involvement — will work much the same way. Using the open-source strategy, the software will eventually be made available to everyone. While on-screen advertisements usually aren’t something we’d be ecstatic about, they could offer unique payment models. In other words, it might actually be more affordable than, say, the iPhone. Even if it doesn’t look as cute. In August 2005, Google purchased Android, Inc., a Cambridge-based mobile-phone/software-development firm that’s currently toiling over the prototype design. Rumblings suggest the Google phone could be released this year. Somewhere, Steve Jobs is having a major panic attack.
The new ‘It’ drink
The oddly named Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man is eventually going to enjoy the overexposure of Starbucks. The chain, whose first two US stores opened in New York City in 2006, is the brainchild of Oded Brenner and Max Fichtman. But Brenner eventually bought out his partner and now, appropriately, goes by the nickname Max. An Israeli-born pastry chef, Brenner got into the chocolate business because he wanted to make some quick cash so he could write a novel. Instead, he came up with the concept of the chocolatier bistro, which features a menu of gimmicky-yet-delicious hot chocolate beverages and all-chocolate desserts. A sweet-talking, modernized Willy Wonka who wants to create a new “chocolate culture,” Brenner has assumed what worked for coffee houses can work for chocolate, and we think it’s brilliant. Foodie critics say his stuff isn’t exactly high-quality, though that hasn’t stopped his New York City locales from being packed to the hilt on a daily basis. The chain has outlets in Australia, Israel, and Asia, and the company plans to open 300 more branches across the United States in the next 10 years. Bottoms up.
The new ‘It’ literature
It seems as though every “significant” or “nice” deal we see announced in Publisher’s Lunch has to do with moms, fairies, or secrets. (Clearly, a novel about a mom living a secret life as a fairy is bound for glory.) Some of these books won’t be popped out in time for 2008, but publishing is all about the early hype that disintegrates into a clusterfuck of backlash anyway, right? Mommy-lit is the obvious spawn of its cuter, perpetually younger sister: chick-lit. So watch out for an endless stream of beach reads about Bridget Jones–ish heroines who are navigating the all-too-hilarious terrain between love, work, and babies. Also intriguing is the sudden explosion of fairy books, now that the boy-wizards have had their 15 minutes. We’re particularly excited for 2009’s Autumn Wings (Harper Teen) by Aprilynne Pike, a four-book series about “an ordinary girl who discovers she is a faerie sent to guard the gateway to Avalon in the mortal world, and when she is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she’s torn between a mortal and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.” And now that FOUND, Mortified, and PostSecret have all been given publishing contracts (in some cases, multiple ones), it comes as no surprise to us that Kerry Miller of passiveaggressivenotes.com has scored a deal of her very own. Who needs a diary when every bookstore chain in the country is stocking a tome filled with your anonymously submitted deepest, darkest thoughts and private humiliations? Reality just got that much more scripted.