A week ago, the idea of a Valve-designed games console seemed to be little other than a science fiction “what if?” scenario for bored games journalists. Today, it seems like it’s actually happening, in some form. There’s been no official word, but equally nothing that amounts to a denial from the company itself – and more and more sources are crawling out of the woodwork to say, yes, this is happening.

But what’s happening? It’s pretty obvious that Valve isn’t about to start building consoles. The company isn’t in the hardware business and has no plans to be in the hardware business, which it has (politely, politely) implied to be a bit of a mug’s game. Right now, Valve laughs its way to the bank by being the dominant distribution platform (with a tasty 30% cut, or thereabouts) on hardware which is made by someone else – which must inspire green-eyed jealousy at Microsoft, Sony et al, since these companies have to sell expensive hardware at a loss in order to get that kind of cut off software.

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Back at CES in January, the double-act of Sir Howard Stringer and Kaz Hirai announced something called the Sony Entertainment Network – a network service that would be the hub of the company’s efforts to serve music, movies and other content to customers online. Those who watch the gaming end of Sony’s business knew what was happening here – this is the long-expected expansion of the PlayStation Network, or PSN, to become the foundation of Sony’s online service ambitions.

It’s been long-expected, because up until this point Sony has proved completely incapable of leveraging its enviable position as both a leading consumer electronics manufacturer and one of the world’s biggest media companies, and has instead been completely outmatched by Apple’s iTunes and latterly by Amazon at every turn. Much as PlayStation is about the only successful bit of Sony’s consumer electronics business right now, PSN is the company’s only remotely successful network service. Other services, like Sony Connect and Qriocity (which technically lives on, rebranded as SEN) have been embarrassing flops.

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There’s been a little bit of a storm on Twitter this afternoon about the privacy settings in Spotify, kicked off by an interesting blog post from Dr. Ben Goldacre taking the popular music streaming service to task for its incredibly cavalier attitude to sharing users’ playlists and other information. The theme has been picked up by Graham Linehan, who has also apparently written about this for the Evening Standard.

If you don’t use Spotify, or haven’t noticed the changes, then it goes a bit like this – you now have to connect Spotify to your Facebook account. When you do this, it goes about busily sharing every playlist you create, and updating your Facebook Music feed to show the world exactly what you’re listening to.

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Apple just had its most profitable quarter ever – in fact, the most profitable quarter any tech company has ever had. Apple’s doing okay.

That’s not really important, though, unless you’re a shareholder or an investor. What are important if you’re a developer, or someone who’s just interested in the tech, are the underlying sales numbers. To wit – 37 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads, 5.2 million Macs. It also sold 15.4 million iPods, the only area of its business that declined (for obvious reasons).

Here’s what I think we can take away from that, and what I hope is going to be injected into ongoing tech debates by these figures.

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There are too many social networks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t room for more. I don’t want anyone to make “the new Facebook” – Facebook, for all its faults, is Facebook, and it’s a site on which I’ve got pretty much everyone I’ve ever known and with whom I’d like to stay in contact listed. What I do want, however, is for people to make highly specialised social network sites and applications that perform a useful function very well, and interoperate with other networks nicely.

I can’t see myself replacing the big networks (Facebook, Twitter) with the Latest Big Thing, but I can certainly see myself using a “network of networks” – a constellation of networks that play nicely with each other, fulfil specific needs and together, give me a lot of control over who I’m sharing with and what I’m sharing.

With that in mind, I started trying out two new apps this week – Path and Pin Drop, both of which look like promising new stars in that “social constellation” (an utterly wanky term which I’m not honestly suggesting anyone else use, but I can’t think of anything better right now).

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