Zynga Gets Zinged, Evernote Gets A Memory Button, Google TV Gets Accelerated, & Other Web News You Might Have Missed

While I was preoccupied this short week covering stuff like open source robots, smart pens, custom e-mail signatures, and Google Instant, quite a few interesting tech stories were popping up elsewhere on the Web. A few quick pointers:

—I’ve only been in San Francisco since July, and I’ve already heard plenty of whispers about Zynga and the uncanny resemblance between its Facebook games, such as Mafia Wars and Farmville, and earlier predecessors from other companies. SF Weekly‘s Peter Jamison this week published a fascinating, no-holds-barred cover article blasting Zynga for its “simple business formula: Steal someone else’s game. Change its name. Make millions. Repeat.” Required reading for anyone interested in the Bay Area social gaming scene.

—Speaking of Zynga, the New York Times‘ Tuesday advertising column published a look at the explosion in sales of virtual goods and virtual currency (which accounted for the majority of Zynga’s $100 million-plus in revenues last year), exploring how top brands like Volvo, MTV, and H&M are starting to use branded virtual goods inside game worlds as marketing vehicles. It’s a phenomenon we’ve been covering for a long time, but it’s always nice when the Times finally puts its imprimatur on a tech trend.

—Evernote, the online notekeeping service that I’ve covered extensively (and use avidly), introduced a new feature called Site Memory. It’s a button that Web publishers can include on their pages, allowing visitors to save the material directly to their Evernote notebooks. It’s a common strategy these days—witness the profusion of Facebook “Like” buttons—but Evernote is including an interesting twist: when people sign up for Evernote’s $45-per-year premium service as a result of clicking on a Site Memory button, Evernote will give the first $10 to the site owner.

—With last week’s announcement that it’s overhauling Apple TV, the little computer company in Cupertino reinvigorated the debate about whether people want to get their TV programming over the Internet. But the little search company in Mountain View isn’t about to be left out of the game. Google TV, announced in May, was originally scheduled for release in the U.S. sometime this year and globally in 2011. But in an interview published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, Intel CEO Paul Otellini suggested that the Chrome-powered set-top boxes (which are expected to include Intel chips) might ship as early as this month.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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