Explaining Southern California's economy

It's a bank! It's an app! It's a bank AND an app!

GoBank. There's no actual bank. The whole thing lives inside an iPhone.

A show of hands, please: Who hates their bank? 

OK, OK! You can put your hands down now. In response to your pain over fees and account minimums and various other picky little money-grubbing charges, Green Dot, a Pasadena-based company that made it big in prepaid debit cards, has created a no-frills, low-cost banking service that's optimized to run on mobile devices.

It's called GoBank, and it's designed to run on the iPhone and Android devices. In fact, the entire banking experiencing is centralized on small screens and makes use of a smartphone's camera to manage deposits. You can email money to people. And text money. And — yes — Facebook money. 

You also get, along with FDIC insurance, a Visa debit card and an embedded "Fortune Teller" that will tweak you when you're spending too much.

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UPDATE: Apple announces new iPad mini

Apple Introduces Latest iPad

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPad mini during a special event at the historic California Theater Tuesday morning. The iPad mini is Apple's smaller version of the popular iPad tablet.

UPDATE: $329, for the 16GB WiFi-only version. Shipping early November. Pre-orders October 26. And it will have cellular capability.

UPDATE: It's the iPad mini. Apple has spoken. It's going to be 7.9 inches (the ipad Maxi is 9.7 inches — neat, huh?). Apple has also rolled out a new MacBook Pro, a new Mac mini, something about textbooks that seemed to greatly excite CEO Tim Cook, and a new iMac.

PREVIOUSLY: Apple is live-streaming today's much-anticipated but not exactly all that secretive reveal of the iPad mini. BUT the company is only livestreaming it through Apple's Safari browser! So switch now, Chrome and Firefox people! I'm not even sure what you Opera and Rockmelt folks are supposed to do. Explorer? Yeah...

If there is a big surprise in store, it could be that the iPad mini won't be called the iPad mini, but rather something like the "iPad Air," to ally it with the MacBook of the same name.

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Q&A: What is Amazon unveiling tomorrow in Santa Monica?

Amazon Introduces New Tablet At News Conference In New York

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduces Kindle Fire last September. What new forms will the device take? We'll probably find out tomorrow in L.A.

All Amazon has done is invite the media to an event at a hanger at the Santa Monica airport tomorrow morning. But chances are pretty good that we're going to be seeing some tablets. This won't be like the similarly mysterious Microsoft event in June at which we were introduced to the technology giant's first-ever ready-for-market tablet, Surface. Amazon already has Kindles and Kindle Fires. So what are we likely to see?

Q: Will we get a bigger Kindle Fire?

A: Nope. CNET already reported that a Kindle Fire Big isn't in Amazon's immediate future. Rather, the company will be updating the current Kindle Fire with a new model and introducing a second model. Both will be 7-inch tablets. 

Q: Does it really make sense for Amazon to treat this as a media event?

A: Apple has an iPad Mini and the new iPhone 5 coming soon. The iPad Mini will hit in October and the iPhone arrives this month. Microsoft just planted its stake with Surface and then there are all the Android tablets that aren't Kindle Fires (which is built on Android but customized for Amazon). Amazon needs to stay in the game here. 

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RIM, R.I.P.? (Part II)

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A Blackberry Bold is displayed at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 8, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Business Insider is engaged in plenty of speculation about struggling BlackBerry maker Research in Motion today, after the company disappointed Wall Street with its fiscal fourth quarter results yesterday. Part of that speculation involved interpreting RIM's CEO's comments about "strategic opportunities" as "let's look for someone to buy us." At the New York Times, Michael J. De La Merced joins that chorus.

Here's a Jay Yarow at BI, on why no one in his right mind would want to buy RIM (it's in Q&A form):

...Is anyone a good fit for RIM?

Honestly, we don't think so. This is a company that is dying and in a state of transition. It runs on its own platform. Most hardware makers have picked their partners for software. Transitioning to RIM's software doesn't make sense unless RIM's next software is awesome. In which case, another hardware maker like Dell or LG could buy RIM and use BlackBerry 10.

But, that's sort of silly for RIM, right? They wouldn't want to sell if the software is good.

Exactly. What's the point? RIM could turn itself around without help.

But that's pretty unlikely, right?

Yep.

So that's it for RIM? Make great software or die?

Pretty much. It's possible someone wild card jumps in. Maybe a carrier takes a chance on RIM if it gets cheap enough, or maybe a Chinese phone maker buys the company to get a nice entry into North America, or maybe a PE firm looks at RIM's still impressive cash flow and decides to take the company out and try to fix it.

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Is Research in Motion where Apple was before Steve Jobs came back?

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A Blackberry Bold with the new Slacker personalized radio application is displayed at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 8, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I've been advocating, to pretty much anyone who will listen, that Apple should buy Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone and has seen its stock price completely collapse in the past few years, falling more than 70 percent. Apple, mean while, has gone from around $350 per share per-holiday last year to more than $600 this week. 

Apple's success has yielded a cash hoard of $100 billion, some of which Cupertino is dealing with through a dividend and stock-buyback plan. But there's still tons of money left over. I say, Why not buy RIM? At a market cap of $7.25 billion, Apple could pick up the dominant player in the business-and-government smartphone market and plug the one gaping hole in its dominance of consumer electronics.

Apple could do this, possibly using cash that it's keeping outside the U.S. (RIM is Canadian! Apple wouldn't have to re-patriate the money!), and still have enough left over to buy, you know, the Eiffel Tower or something...

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