Updated: Mozilla, Deutsche Telekom won’t release “privacy phone”

Update: Mozilla has told TechCrunch that the WSJ’s framing of this as a partnership around an actual phone was inaccurate. In other words, there’s absolutely no news here beyond the more general Firefox OS collaboration that we reported on one year ago to the day. For the record, I did contact Mozilla’s representatives to seek comment before publishing my original piece, but received no reply.

That original story follows thusly:

A year back, Deutsche Telekom and Mozilla said they were working together on privacy-centric features for Firefox OS, including “location blurring” (fine-grained control of how much location information to give to each app), guest mode, and a registration-free “find my phone” tool. It looks like that collaboration is about to bear fruit: According to a Wall Street Journal piece on Tuesday, the companies will unveil a “privacy phone” at the upcoming Mobile World Congress that will include such features. The article also notes how the T-Mobile parent and other German carriers are lobbying against the last-minute watering-down of strict new EU data protection rules that will cover web service providers such as Google and Facebook.

Lose something? Here’s a $49 cellular tracker with no monthly fee

The Bluetooth tracker to help people stop leaving their wallet or purse behind has become almost ubiquitous, as has the GPS-based tracker for things that people have deemed a little bit more valuable, such as fleets of cars or even pets. But for those of us who aren’t made of money or who don’t want to pop a heavy module on a child or animal, the newly launched iTraq device looks pretty intriguing.

The product launched on Indiegogo on Wednesday, although it won’t ship until August. What’s cool about it is that it determines its position and location in the world using cellular towers. That means it doesn’t rely on its distance from a phone or its distance from another person’s phone using the app the way many of the Bluetooth trackers out there do.

Products like Tile or the newly launched Pixie work fine if you want a reminder that you’ve left your keys behind, but it can take a long time before you are reunited with a lost item if that item is in a place where not a lot of people are running the device’s app.

With iTraq, the device can be set to ping cell towers at certain times to save on battery life, but when it does ping the towers, it uses triangulation to figure out where it is within 100 feet. Obviously, this can give you too wide a range if you are looking for your lost keys or wallet in an urban area, but it could be useful for a larger item like your bike or your dog. The battery life is up to three years depending on how you set the ping time.

Unlike many other cellular-based devices, the iTraq doesn’t come with a subscription fee. All communication expenses are included in the up-front pricing, which runs from $39 in the first two days of the campaign for first movers and settles out to $49 for one tracker. There are also package deals that range from $129 for three to $196 for five.

But, a word of caution. The iTraq is using a module from a company called [company]GeoTraq[/company], which is traded over the counter and is a relatively unknown entity with no revenue and little history. iTraq purchased $300,000 worth of GeoTraq modules in December, presumably to help build the beta versions of its products and kickstart this campaign. Its most recent filings with the SEC indicate that GeoTraq has assets of $38,241, and will spend at least $200,000 in development, marketing and sales of the technology over the next 12 months.

I’ve reached out to iTraq to understand a bit more about its relationship with GeoTraq and its confidence in the delivery of the modules on which the iTraq product rests, and will update the story when I learn more.

Nokia Here data to power Baidu’s non-Chinese maps

The Chinese web giant Baidu has decided on Nokia as its mapping partner for services outside of China.

[company]Nokia[/company]’s Here platform is one of the key remaining businesses of the Finnish firm, following the sale of its handset unit to [company]Microsoft[/company]. Its mapping data, which will now power [company]Baidu[/company] Maps for most of the world, covers nearly 200 countries.

According to a statement, the first extension of Baidu Maps beyond China will take in Taiwan (which China considers to be part of China anyway) and other territories will follow.

Although the Here data will be subsumed by the Baidu brand, it’s worth noting that China is a key market for Nokia – it’s the first country in which Nokia’s upcoming N1 tablet will launch, for example. Then again, as the world’s biggest economy, with increasing numbers of affluent citizens (and, relevantly, overseas-travelling tourists), that’s no surprise.

Nokia would like you to know that it’s “up to something”

Nokia — the remaining phone-free Finnish firm, not the handset business that Microsoft bought and recently renamed — has something in store for us. In a Monday tweet teasing the unveiling of “something” on Tuesday at the Slush Festival in Helsinki, Nokia showed off a black box with the company’s familiar logo on the top. All very mysterious, especially considering that, while the company has hinted at a return of its brand to consumer goods, it appeared to do so in the context of brand licensing. The remaining bits of Nokia deal with location-based services and mapping, network equipment and advanced materials research. The black box in that picture doesn’t look like any of those.