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Asking for the Best City Search

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is planning a $328 million expansion of its global libraries initiative that will bring free Internet access and training into as many as 15 countries over the next seven years.

As reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal, the foundation on Thursday announced $17.5 million in grants for Botswana in Africa, as well as Latvia and Lithuania in Eastern Europe. The grants mark the first time the Seattle-based Gates Foundation has awarded money to Eastern European nations. Read more on Gate’s Foundation >>> [24×7]

Ask.com to Launch AskCity Service Today
Ask.com’s search engine is sharpening its focus on local results in an attempt to make a bigger splash on the World Wide Web.The long-overshadowed company is hoping to finally outshine much-larger rivals Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. with a new service meant to become a one-stop destination for information about neighborhood events, movies, restaurants and other businesses. The service, dubbed “AskCity,” is scheduled to debut Monday. [24×7]

Digital Realty Acquires Westin Data Hub
Data centers and Internet gateways owner and manager Digital Realty Trust has acquired the primary Internet gateway for the Pacific Northwest market located in downtown Seattle.

“The addition to our portfolio of the Seattle Internet gateway facility, locally known as the Westin Building, represents a very strategic initial acquisition for us in this tier one market,” says Michael F. Foust, CEO of Digital Realty Trust. “It not only expands our national footprint into the Pacific Northwest, it also adds to our existing portfolio of mission critical Internet gateway facilities in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and Charlotte.”

The downtown Seattle acquisition, located at 2001 Sixth Avenue, serves as the primary hub for Internet traffic in the Pacific Northwest and is the premier facility for corporate data center applications in the Seattle market. The 34-story tower consists of 389,000 square feet and is 90 percent leased. [24×7]

Zune Slips from 2nd-5th Place After its 1st Week
Microsoft’s Zune began its first week of sales in second place in the U.S. digital music-player mark market according to researcher NPD Group said.

However Zune dropped to fifth place from second in the U.S. market for digital media players in its second week in stores, market researcher NPD Group Inc. said.

Zune captured 2.1 percent of the market in the week ended Nov. 25, Stephen Baker, an analyst at Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD, said Monday. Baker said Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod remained the leader, with 39.4 percent that week, based on units sold.

Zune’s market share declined as SanDisk Corp. boosted sales with a 50 percent price cut on its media players, taking a 39.3 percent share and knocking Microsoft from the No. 2 spot it occupied in its first week in the market. [24×7]