Tag: Google

Google Shopping ads now extend to mobiles

google-mobile-ad-listingsGoogle is bringing Google Shopping product listings to mobile devices. Google has been serving up product listings on desktop search results for quite a while, but now it is taking them to cramped mobile screens as well.

A simple Google search on a phone or tablet will now result in several listings popping up above the organic search results.

This ad unit is labeled as ‘Sponsored’ and displays rich product images, prices, retailers and more. It might be a boon for some users and m-commerce outfits, but sticking an ad unit in mobile searches is bound to irk quite a few consumers, especially those who didn’t fall for the oversized smartphone craze.

Google explained the finer points of its approach in an Adwords Blog entry and it was quick to point out that the new service will allow potential consumers to narrow down their searches and save money in the process. It should boost Google’s mobile ad revenue and it also opens up a range of new possibilities.

The listings are location-aware, which means they could come in handy on the road, or abroad. Comparing prices, exchanging money or just getting a quick bite to eat in a new city should be easier than ever, especially if Google Now goes mainstream and lends a helping hand.

However, when you’re not on the road and when you just want to search for something, the ads will do what all ads do best – annoy you.

How the big boys killed Google and Apple’s TV

5d5ff59c-434d-11e2-989b-12313d1f5c43About a year ago you could not read anything in the tech press about how the big names were pressing into the telly industry.

Google and Apple were all outed as being likely to become big players. Their channel partners waited, after all there was some big dosh to be made in joint operations, and suddenly there was nothing.

Google pulled off a big “oh look a badger” and started talking about Google Glass while Apple instructed its Tame Apple Press to start writing meaningless pieces about watches instead.
So what happened to the television being the cure for Apple and Google’s woes?

According to Forbes it was some dark satanic practices being carried out behind closed doors in the Far East.

But in the old days control the TV meant you might also control other household functions, like remote control of the air conditioning. Microsoft was early into TV operating systems for that reason.

Its logic is that the TV market is owned by Korean manufacturers and in particular Samsung, and by LG and they are making their plans grander by the minute.

LG recently bought WebOs from HP, specifically for use in smart TVs while Samsung already has a smart TV project that has sucked up developers of iOS, Windows and Android.

For Apple and Google to get into this market they have to do something pretty sexy in a channel where they are an innocent Shirley Temple doing a rounding redition of “good ship lollypop” before a convent of Nuns.

Apple looked at the competition, saw how good it was, and thought “Nah lets stick to making toys.” Google on the otherhand has been a bit more shifty.

The Web OS purchase was bad news for Google TV, but it exposed the extent of Google’s plans. In the beginning the company courted a number of big TV manufacturers for Google TV, with the idea of having the system embedded in a wide variety of TV sets.

It spoke to Sony, which was one of the first to make Google TVs, LG came on board for the second generation, and Samsung seemed to be ready to go Google as well by early 2012.

However a year afterwards Samsung’s Google TV never materialised and Sony stopped selling and now, LG is buying its own smart TV operating system. This means that Google is stuck to a companion box and is snookered.

So why have the big players gone all Altair’ on Google? It appears that it might not be Google, but the operating system that it runs on which has the big Asian names miffed.

For a while now there has been muttering that Android has become too powerful. The moaning has not just come from the Chinese Government, which is looking to build its own Red Friendly operating system, but Google’s partners too.

Some of that was Google’s fault, in buying Motorola, but there are some other reasons too. The first is that many are terrified of returning to a situation where one operating system has control over the market. Although Android is Open Source it still operates at the will of Google.

What is starting to look possible is that Samsung could use Tizen and LG will use Web OS.
The interesting point here that recently Intel revealed its TV plans. It is coming in late, and really few people will care, but it looks like it means that it will not only have to do it without Samsung or LG. True it could run its TV on WebOs or Tizen but that is not normally its style. It probably thought it could come in with Android and everything would be home and hosed. Only it wasn’t.

Google Play gift cards available at Tesco and Morrisons

googleplaycardsGoogle has officially introduced its Google Play gift cards in the UK and they are already on sale. That was quick, but still a bit too late for baby Jesus’ birthday. 

The cards are available at Tesco and Morrisons branches across Britain.

Although the cards should be available in three denominations of £10, £25 and £50, early reports indicate that some denominations are not available in all shops, but it is probably a minor glitch that will be worked out.

Obviously, the cards can be can be used to buy content from Google’s Play store, ranging from Android games to books and films. Sadly though, the gift cards cannot be used to buy Nexus hardware, digital subscriptions or accessories.

The cards can be redeemed by simply entering the code on the back of the card in the Google Play app, during the purchase or by entering the redemption code through your browser.

Google Play gift cards set to hit UK

googleplaycardsGoogle Play gift cards are coming to the UK, just three months late for Christmas. Google has apparently leaked a few details on its Google Play Support page, indicating that British Googleites will soon be able to pick up virtual gift cards.

Google launched its gift card service in the US last August, in four denominations: $10, $15, $25 and $50. Britain is getting three denominations, £10, £25 and £50. However, it is still unclear when Google will roll out the new service and the company is not commenting. With plenty of references on its own pages, it shouldn’t be long before we see the cards on sale across Britain.

The leak was unearthed by Android UK News, which also reports that the maximum credit allowed will be £2,000. That should be more than enough for any Google Play addict.

The big question at this point is who will carry them? Carphone Warehouse and similar outfits are the obvious choice, but we could be in for a surprise.

Google might be too late for Christmas, but in a few months time Brits should be able to spoil their offspring with hassle free virtual gift cards.

Iron Mountain makes the UK superbrands list

ironmountainCAInformation management company Iron Mountain has found itself in the 2013 Business Superbrands qualifiers, finding itself among household names such as Samsung, Intel and Apple.

Although it is not in the top 20 – dominated by the heaviest hitters – the company has posted a proud release to let the world know of its increasing brand presence, specifically in the European mid market.

Iron Mountain has been following a strategy that targets European mid market companies. Its campaigns, the company said, have centred on showing off its brand appeal to smaller companies, using a combination of PR, web marketing, direct mail and event channels to raise awareness.

The company said that it works with 150,000 organisations across the world as well as finding itself in the majority of FTSE top 100 businesses for storing and managing critical information. In a statement, the company said despite this reputation, it was “largely unknown in Europe”.

Since 2011, the company has been involved in brand research in the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Hungary.

The long list of the so-called superbrands is available in PDF format here.

Top ten business superbrands, from top to bottom, were Apple, BA, Google, Visa, Virgin Atlantic, IBM, SHell, Microsoft, London Stock Exchange Group, and Mastercard.

Superbrands claims that its league tables are based on the “opinions of marketing experts, business professionals and thousands of British consumers”.

Three tech companies were in the top ten of the consumer index. Apple was in second place, Microsoft in third, and Google at six. We are not clear about the exact metrics used, but Stephen Cheliotis from the council said they’re judged on “quality, reliability and distinction”.

Europe to binge on cheap tablets

nexus7The tablet boom is still going strong and according to Forrester Research, plenty of growth is expected over the next few years. Tablet ownership in Europe is expected to quadruple by 2017.

At the moment, an estimated 14 percent of European online consumers own a tablet, and the number should hit 55 percent by 2017. But who stands to gain from the boom?

Google needs no shops says Rubin

nexus7Rumours of Google’s retail store push seem to have been just that, groundless rumours. Android boss Andy Rubin now says that Google does not need its own retail stores.

Speaking to AllThingsD, Rubin said the need for physical stores is simply not there anymore. Consumers can get plenty of information online or through word of mouth.

Taking into account the sheer volume of bias and fanboy fuelled hype found in most tech reviews, we believe the latter option is a better choice.

However, Rubin believes consumers no longer have to go into stores to “feel” gadgets. He added that Google’s hardware effort is still in its infancy and we have to agree. Google’s Nexus programme is basically a way of showing the world how not to launch and market phones, or how to ruin perfectly good products with terrible execution.

“For Nexus, I don’t think the program is far enough along to think about the necessity of having these things in a retail store,” said Rubin. He went on to say that Google has no retail store plans and that it has nothing to announce. That’s nada.

For some strange reason, Google seems to view Nexus gear as a nuisance, something to get out of the way while developing newer versions of Android and web services. Tangible stuff is dirty in the Google mindset. Even Rubin refers to his own Nexus gear as “these things,” rather than actual products that could be very competitive and generate plenty of revenue if Google somehow managed to do things right.

Just ask Samsung.

Google starts to recruit resellers against Amazon Cloud

cloud 2Google and Amazon have been scrapping it out for dominance of the skies, but now it seems that the search engine Zeppelin may be trying to recruit resellers to help out.

According to GigaomGoogle has signed up its first reseller, a company called RightScale, which is offering a “cloud management platform”.

It helps an enterprise automate routine tasks, monitor usage and monthly costs, and control security options.

As a reseller RightScale works with other major providers of Internet-delivered computing power and storage, including Amazon, RackSpace, HP Cloud, and Windows Azure. But its products have always worked with Compute Engine since Google launched the cloud service in June.

What this means is that Google has finally woken up and realised that its enterprise customers not only need someone to sell them the products, but also hold their hands if something goes tits up.
One of the difficulties that Google has had is that the company is so big, that getting information on its products, particularly when something goes wrong, is difficult.

But there are some elements of self-protection here. This partnership announcement comes a week after Amazon launched a new service called OpsWorks, which competes with RightScale. This means that by having resellers Google and the reseller can protect each other from the Amazon juggernaut.

In the long term Google will probably do better than Amazon. It has a lot more experience running Apps on the Cloud, and soon its products will be faster and cheaper but this announcement is a reminder that even super-companies like Google need resellers to get their products out there.
Google is also the new kid on the block and many corporate customers will not be aware that it is out there yet. Having a reseller pushing product is one way of raising the profile.

PayPal and Google to cash in as mobile payments go mainstream

google-walletMobile payments are slowly but surely going mainstream. Mass adoption of smartphones and tablets is making the dream of fully digital wallets a reality and it is opening new possibilities for traditional banks, credit card companies and net-based payment services.

Nexus 4 shipments estimated at just one million units

nexus4-ceGoogle’s Nexus 4 has been on sale for three months, although one could argue that it has been on sale for a couple of weeks, since it wasn’t really available anywhere. For some reason, Google grossly underestimated demand for its latest vanilla Android phone, resulting in ridiculous shortages in every single market.

Android enthusiasts managed to work out that Google shipped just a million units in the first three months of sales, after four months in production.

Google buys Channel Intelligence for $125 million

google-ICGoogle is continuously trying to improve its e-commerce business and its latest acquisition should give it a nudge in the right direction. The search giant bought e-commerce solution provider Channel Intelligence for $125 million in an all-cash deal.

Channel Intelligence is active in 31 countries and it offers a wide range of e-commerce services.

The company has been a partner of Google Shopping for years and the two outfits worked together on Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Product Listing Ads (PLA) products. In addition, Channel Intelligence offers a range of free services, including Facebook integration and product search widgets and an e-commerce back end, dubbed Shopping Engine.

Channel Intelligence announced the deal on its website, adding that all of its services will be available for years to come. The company has been around since 1999 and it tracks about 15 percent of all online transactions in the US. It is behind $2 billion in sales through referrals every year.

ICG group announced Wednesday that the transaction should be finalized in the first quarter of 2013. ICG is expected to realize $60.5 million in connection with the transaction.

“Building upon the perseverance and strong foundation laid by CI’s founder Rob Wight, I am extremely proud of the work we accomplished at CI,” said Doug Alexander, CEO of CI and President of ICG. “With the talent and hard work of the entire CI team, we successfully navigated a very complex marketplace, ending a record year that culminated in this very exciting acquisition.”

Wright said he is thrilled to see the recognition of CI’s value. He said the company’s vision was to simplify the online shopping experience and that he is very proud to see the vision executed to such a “great outcome.”

Cost and pressure of uni work placements could put students off

bbc 330Work placements at degree stage help prepare  IT students for full time work, yet the cost and pressure of finding them can put many off, a work experience professional has said.

The comments follow a survey of 320 graduates from CWJobs, which found that those who had completed a placement year had been better prepared to enter the world of work when they had finished their degree.

A quarter of those asked said they had completed a placement while studying for their degrees. Of these, 81 percent said they felt the experience had helped them when it came to their IT career.

Just under half of students who had not completed a placement year admitted that they did not feel that just having a degree better placed them for the world of work.

According to recruitment firm Experis, and IT jobs site CWJobs.com, which jointly conducted the research, employers often look for students who had completed relevant work experience.

However, they pointed out that of the 2,048 computing courses offered in the UK, only 470 offer a placement year.

According to a work experience expert,  many students who don’t have the option of a sandwich course will fail to find a placement during their time at university.

“At university level things change slightly from school age where it is down to each borough to place a 16 year old in a work experience placement”, she told ChannelEye. “At degree level, it’s no longer down to the government to place students, which in some ways, considering the tuition fee hike is unfair.

“It means that on top of their workload students are put under pressure- with probably minimal help from their tutors, to find placements to accompany their course. There may be companies who are signed up with the course but the competition is rife.”

There are financial costs involved too.

An article in the Guardian last year suggested that some universities can charge up to around £4,500 for sandwich years, while businesses are also reluctant to become a part of this scheme as they don’t have the time to supervise these students.

“Placements are very important, but for some, the time and effort associated with these put students off and, as we’ve seen from this research could prove detrimental in the future,” the work experience expert added.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for IT announced that it is launching a teacher training scholarship aimed at creating the next generation of computer science teachers.

The organisation wants secondary schools to “have outstanding computer science teachers” and it hopes the scholarships will help towards achieving this.

The scheme also aims to help students receive a good grounding in computer science education so they are suitably equipped for progression into further education and a professional career.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having Computer Science in the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) will have a big impact on schools over the next decade.

“It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again.”

Fifty scholarships per year, each worth £20,000, will be awarded for those engaged in an initial teacher training course, with the funding supplied by the Department for Education.

The scheme will also be backed by the likes of Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook, Meta Switch Networks and Ocado.

Apple’s down but it’s far from out

Apple, iPadConsumer behemoth Apple reported its first quarter financial results yesterday and while it posted revenues of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion in the same financial quarter last year, profits were flat.

Gross margin fell to 38.6 percent compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter last year. Apple is forecasting gross margins between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent for its second quarter, with estimated revenues between $41 billion and $43 billion.

So, what’s the problem? CEO Tim Cook said that supply problems were a matter to be concerned about, despite media reports.  And Apple has got a stash of cash in its corporate coffers – not far short of $137 billion in both liquid ashes and in cash.  That gives it a pot of gold that would let it buy other companies to make a splash in new or other developing markets.

A bigger problem is its existing slew of products, including the wildly successful iPad and the solidly popular iPhone.  It does face a challenge on the tablet front – particularly so from Google and Amazon devices.  Microsoft Windows 8 using Intel chips may not be so much of a challenge.  Intel cannot necessarily lower the price of its microprocessors, given its business model and Microsoft appears to believe that tablet devices running the touch version of Windows 8 should command the same prices as Apple iPads, or be even more expensive.

Apple’s share price (AAPL: Nasdaq), stood at $460.15 at press time.

Fixing Nexus supply problems is Google’s new priority

nexus4-ceThe botched Nexus 4 launch has already turned into a rather embarrassing episode for Google, but Larry Page is trying to reassure investors and analysts, although it could be too little, too late.

Page mentioned the problems during Google’s Q4 earnings report, but he did not say much and he did not provide any new details.