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Squawk Box Feb 19

It was great to be back in the office.  We started off this morning’s Squawk Box with a provocative question: "what is a journalist?".  The background to this was an incident that occurred over the weekend.  Fred Wilson, a very smart New York VC, called out some blog postings he had seen recently on TechCrunch and VentureBeat that he considered to be less well researched than they could have been. He specifically took a poke at "journobloggers", folks with their own blogs or part of blog networks, who make a living from doing this. Mike Arrington took issue with Fred’s post in a very strongly titled piece called "Fred Wilson – Hypocritical, Wrong and Conflicted".  Among the many things he pointed out was that both the bloggers that Fred identified had been professional journalists — one with the San Jose Mercury News and the other with Fortune and Business 2.0.  And of course, this hits very close to home for me personally, as I am frequently treated like a journalist because of the blog I write.  Last week, for example, I attended Mobile World Congress as a member of the press.

Over the weekend we also saw fast and furious rumours that Verizon would offer a series of unlimited wireless plans priced between $99 and $169.  And in fact, they did. Depending on whether you want just voice, or voice and data, national only or international roaming as well, the price varies. We debate whether this is a game changing event or not.

And finally, Friday afternoon, on the tail of Mobile World Congress, Motorola and RIM started lobbing patent grenades at each other.  Motorola alleges that RIM is in violation of patents including a method for storing contact information in wireless emails, and a way of recognizing incoming phone numbers.  RIM claims that Motorola has infringed it’s patents including one for a device "with a keyboard optimized for use with the thumbs".  And it’s accused Motorola of behaving in an anticompetitive fashion by demanding "exhorbitant" royalties.  RIM claims that Motorola’s response to the "declining fortunes" of its own handset business can been seen in dramatic increases in royalties charged to RIM. Now recognizing that none of us are patent attorneys…. what are these two up to?

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