Google is under attack again by government agencies, but this time its Russia that’s being accused of anti-monopolistic practices.
Search site Yandev asked the anti-competition watchdog to investigate claims whether it was taking advantage of Google’s Android operating system and shutting out competing apps.
Google is denying it behaves in a monopolistic manner and according to Reuters said people have complete control over apps on devices.
The same wire says that the European Commission is also pursuing Google to answer questions about whether its dominance in the mobile operating systems marketplace precludes competition.
And that’s not the end of it – the USA is also putting Google under the magnifying glass, even though Google said it will keep Android as an open system.
Famous for operating its reality distortion shield, Apple might have taken control of the Virtual Reality market with an ancient patent application.
Apple was granted a patent for a Gear VR-like mobile headset which would use a portable device (like a smartphone) as the primary display. However the patent is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and a swath of VR smartphone adapters out there like Google Cardboard.
According to patent attorney, Eric Greenbaum the patent could kill off all competition for mobile VR headsets and patent troll the market to oblivion.
In 2008 Apple filed a patent for a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”
The patent describes a device which sounds an awful lot like Gear VR and other VR smartphone adapters. Eric Greenbaum, told Road to VR that the Apple patent may have broad ramifications for mobile-device based head mounted displays.” Which I take to mean, Apple could have a case on their hands if they wanted to challenge Gear VR or similar devices in court.
He thinks that Jobs’ Mob may have pressed to get the patent through the system after Gear VR was announced.
Greenbaum warned that Apple has not yet announced a plan to build any VR products. However their patent filings indicate a strong interest in the field and I would expect them to be planning something.
This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD.
There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it in forming strategic partnerships.
In other words, Apple without actually inventing anything could take control of the entire market. It could cherry pick the best technology out there and then release its own product.
Samsung has bought US mobile wallet startup LoopPay, which is seen as an intention to launch a smartphone payments service.
Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones and the stores themselves are expected to release a new standard of their own.
Most of the problem is that retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work before a standard is sorted out. There was no point in investing in BetaMax when VHS kills it.
LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.
“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.
Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
He said new phones such as the new Galaxy would support the service.
Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition.
Rhee said in an interview that the company intends to roll out accompanying services that go beyond merely turning the smartphone into a wallet, such as by allowing users access to information such as spending.
While Google is sitting back and having a think about the smart glass project it initiated, it appears that Sony is pressing ahead with its SmartEyeglass, a product that will set you back a not so very cool £600 or so.
The glasses come with a software development kit (SDK) so you can sit down and code away to your hearts content, and supports the Android operating system.
The glass include a three megapixel camera, a microphone, weigh 77 grammes, and include a number of features familiar to smartphone users such as gyroscopes, compass, image and brightness sensors, according to the BBC, which adds they come with a controller, to be worn on the body, with loudspeaker, a touch sensor and a battery.
You’ll also be able to see text on the lenses in green.
The CEO of Apple doesn’t think much of smart glasses, according to the New Yorker. He told that magazine that people wouldn’t want to wear them.
The European Commission is angry at US president’s Barack Obama claims that the EU was intentionally setting up commercially-driven roadblocks to prevent US technology companies from operating here.
Obama claimed these roadblocks were put in place to stop US tech companies like Google and Facebook from doing business in Europe and competing fairly with homegrown rivals.
Instead, Obama praised the US companies for being “more commercially-driven than anything else” while the EU companies were rubbish because they could not really compete with the glorious US corporations.
Obama said that the US “owned the internet” and it was created by US companies. “And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial interests.”
He said that the Germans “given its history with the Stasi” are very sensitive to [privacy] issues.
All this seems particularly dark when you consider that the roadblock appear to be antitrust investigations held by the European Commission against Google.
That sort of pro-corporate US Imperialism did not go down too well with the Europeans. After all it was a British person who invented the world wide web.
A European Commission spokesperson told the Financial Times: “This point – that regulations are only there to shelter our companies – is out of line. Regulations should make it easier for non-EU companies to access the single market. It is in [US companies’] interest that things are enforced in a uniform manner.”
However, there is more to it than that. Pressure is mounting on the EU to do something about US companies’ tax avoidance efforts, as well as prevent companies from taking a monopolistic stranglehold of any one market.
Last year, Google was made to comply with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” which allows people to request their personal details are removed from the company’s search engine results.
Catalan MEP Ramon Tremosa told the FT: “President Obama forgets or maybe isn’t aware that among the dozens of complaints in the Google antitrust case, there are several US companies.”
Tremosa added: “Some companies, like [search engine] Yelp, have no problem going public. Others don’t want to attack Google only because they fear retaliation measures, such as demotion/exclusion and penalties supposedly applied by Google to some rival companies.”
President Barack Obama is to meet CEOs in Silicon Valley today to canvass their views on ways to improve existing cyber legislation.
That’s in the wake of massive attacks on healthcare company Anthem and Sony.
According to Reuters, Obama is expected to say that government and the private sector need to cooperate better to meet the challenges of cyber attacks.
A White House representative said that the idea is that if the USA gets it right, more people and companies worldwide will do business with America.
But while Obama will meet some CEOs, some will pointedly stay away including Google, Facebook and Yahoo. They don’t think that the US has done enough to protect their customers from NSA surveillane.
Obama wants Congress to pass a law giving liability protection to companies that share their data about security.
Even if the project has been mothballed, Google has found a partner for its Glass project.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in the Netherlands, is trialling Google Glass for use by airport authority officers as a hands-free way to look up gate and airplane information.
Apparently its security officers are testing Google’s wearable computer on travellers passing through the terminal in a bid to better understand the ‘customer journey’.
What this suggests is that the project is never going to be mass market, but will have a function for niche industrial and service industry applications.
Google pulled ‘Glass for the masses’ when it shuttered its Glass Explorer program last month.
The airport started its trial of Glass last month, and has developed a Glass app which lets staff ask the device for gate or aircraft data and have the results displayed via the headset or on their smartphone. The airport hopes to measure the placement distance of barriers on the taxiway just by looking at them, rather than officers having to take measurements manually.
The airport is not committed to Glass beyond trialling it at this point. Any decision about whether the face computers will become a permanent fixture on staff will be taken next year, it said.
There have been howls of derision on the interwebs after it was revealed that ad-blocking browser Adblock Plus has been paid off by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola.
What appeared to have been a brilliant bit of software which kept adverts out of your browser, has turned into something of a debacle.
PC Mag said that that one digital media company, which asked not to be named, said Eyeo had asked for a fee equivalent to 30 percent of the additional ad revenues that it would make from being unblocked.
What this means is that all you need to do to make a bit of dosh is write an ad-blocking code, it does not even have to work that well, and show up at the Big IT companies and say: “That is a nice bit of advertising, it would be terrible if something happened to it” and collect your cheque.
PC Mag ummed and ahed about how advertising drives the free Web and sites were not staying in business long these days, but the fact that you have to pay people who write anti-advertising software to look the other way does strike us as the central part of the story.
What this means is that the big companies who can afford to pay, can run adverts while the smaller magazines will see their sites blocked. In short the big guys win and the little sites are stuffed.
to be the market leader for tablets in 2014 but it, in common with other vendors, showed a drop in sales.
A report from Trendforce said that the tablet industry has no reached the maturity point with shipments globally totalling 192 million units. That’s a fall of 2.2 percent compared to 2013.
Apple fared rather worse, it shipped 63.4 million units, a drop of 13.6 percent.
Number two in the pack was Samsung, but its shipments at 41 million units dropped only 2.5 percent.
Lenovo beat Amazon to take third place, and now has 5.6 percent market share.
Both Amazon and Google trailed behind, and Microsoft hasn’t really hit the numbers with its Surface Pro 3.
Some analysts believe that not only has the market reached maturity, but it’s hard to persuade people to upgrade. Others think that tablets are being squeezed on the one hand by larger screen size smartphones and others by low cost notebook PCs.
Data from market research
company ABI Research indicates that Google’s Android operating system is losing share in the smartphone market.
The data shows that certified Android smartphone shipments fell in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter.
Cerified Android shipments fell to 205 million in the fourth quarter, down from 217.49 million – a drop of around five percent.
The clear winner in the quarter was Apple’s iOS – while it only shipped 74.50 millions during Q4, that was up by 90 percent compared to Q3 2014.
Microsoft also managed to increase its market share in the fourth quarter, rising to 10.70 millions – up 19 percent compared to the third quarter.
Others – by which we can infer operating systems by Blackberry and the like, saw growth decline by 26 percent.
Giant US microprocessor
combine Intel has paid an unknown amount of money to snap up a Germany chip company.
Lantiq, owned since 2009 by a private equity company makes semiconductors used in different applications including broadband, wi-fi, and fibre connections.
Lantiq was sold to private equity company Golden Gate for a quarter of million euro. Lantiq was originally a wing of Infineon.
It’s believed that the Intel acquisition is part of its attempt to be a major player in the much hyped “internet of things”.
But while there is no doubt that the internet of things will generate a lot of revenue, there is no one standard and other companies, including Qualcomm and Google want to grab a share of that market too.
The Information Commissioner’s Office
(ICO) has made Google sign an undertaking to improve information about how it collects personal data in the UK.
The ICO said that following an investigation it found that Google’s search engine was “too vague” in describing how it used personal data it had collected.
The ICO worked with other European data protection authorities, it said.
The enforcement officer at the ICO, Steve Eckersley, said: “This investigation has identified some important learning points not only for Google, but also for all organisations operating online, particularly when they seek to combine and use data across services.”
Google will have to make agreed changes by the 30th of June this year, and take even more steps over the next two years.
Software supremo Microsoft is investing in a start-up that wants to give Google Android a good kicking.
Microsoft has written a cheque to power up Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile operating system outside of Google’s auspices.
Apparently Microsoft is a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing and the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest.
All of them are keen that to help Cyanogen to diminish Google’s iron grip over Android.
Microsoft offers its own Windows Phone mobile operating system which should be doing its own thing to kill off Android. But Windows Phone has only about 3 per cent market share, which may be prompting Microsoft to consider unconventional steps.
Google has frustrated manufacturers in recent years by requiring them to feature Google apps and set Google search as the default for users, in exchange for access to the search engine, YouTube, or the millions of apps in its Play Store.
For Microsoft, that means less exposure for its Bing search engine, which is up against Google search. It also could limit growth of other Microsoft software products.
Cyanogen has a volunteer army of 9,000 software developers working on its own version of Android.
Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s chief said his company’s goal is to take Android away from Google.
It had raised $100 million to date. Previously the company had disclosed that it raised $30 million of funding.
Cyanogen recently signed a deal with Indian smartphone maker Micromax to ship handsets with Cyanogen’s software and is close to announcing more such deals, say people familiar with the matter.
The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street clutched the spaces where their hearts should be after the search engine Google announced that its revenue growth had been stalled by the strong US dollar.
Google’s revenue grew 15 percent in the fourth quarter but fell short of Wall Street’s target thanks to declining online ad prices and unfavorable foreign exchange rates.
The outfit appears to be losing ground to Facebook on the advertising front. Facebook reported on Wednesday that mobile ads on its network doubled year-over-year during the fourth quarter.
Google said the “cost per click,” decreased 3 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while the number of consumer clicks on its ads increased 14 percent.
Analysts had expected gains in cost-per-click and they are now saying that Google’s business is slowing and it is going to look worse as the dollar strengthens.
Consolidated revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31 totalled $18.10 billion, compared to $15.71 billion in the year-ago period. Wall Street expected revenue of $18.46 billon.
Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said in a statement that revenue grew “despite strong currency headwinds”.
Net income rose to $4.76 billion from $3.38 billion a year earlier.
The Supreme Court of India
today ordered Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo not to carry adverts for products that will predict the gender of a child.
The court made the ruling because female infanticide and abortion of female children is relatively common in India.
The Supreme Court said that such factors were causing an imbalance of genders in India..
A few days ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country’s sex ratio was deteriorating.
The practice of determining a future child’s sex is illegal in India. Modi is currently promoting a campaign in India stressing gender equality. The decision is an interim decision, according to India Today
, and will be reviewed again in early February.