Tag: Google

Adblock Plus asks for “security” money

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyThere 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.

Lenovo pips Amazon at the tablet game

cheap-tabletsApple continued 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.

Android market share falls

330ogleData 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.

 

Intel buys German chip company

Intel Q4_14_ResultsGiant 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.

 

UK makes Google change privacy policy

OgleThe 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 said Google has signed a formal undertaking to make changes to its privacy policy so that it meets the needs of the UK Data Protection Act.
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.
Google’s undertaking can be found here.

 

Microsoft fires up Android kicker

robby the robotSoftware 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.

Google sunk by the US dollar and Facebook

eric-schmidt-testimonyThe 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.

India bans sex determination tests

India_flagThe 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.

Google forced to turn over Wikileaks materials

Julian AssangeA secret search warrant from a judge in a US federal court forced Google to turn over Wikileaks’ emails and data.
But that happened in 2012, and it wasn’t tell the end of last year that Google felt able to tell Wikileaks it had given the US Justice Department including emails and IP addresses of three staffers at Wikileaks.
Wikileaks responded today by saying it was “disturbed” by the revelation.  Wikileaks said that social networking company Twitter had refused similar requests.
The judge stopped Google from telling Wikileaks about the court order but later rescinded this decision.
On its web site today, Wikileaks said its lawyers have written to Google and the Justice Department to protest the revelations.
You can find what Wikileaks has to say for itself, here.

 

Government in school technology push

Nicky Morgan, department for educationThe coalition government has used a teachers’ conference in London to encourage primary schools to up their technology ante.
Speaking at the BETT conference in London, education secretary Nicky Morgan will tell people that Google and O2 will help the move by supporting a £3.6 million initiative.
She thinks that schools should be plugged into technology firms because a lot of jobs will end up being in the tech sector.
Her department, the Department for Education, is putting up £3.6 billion in funds to develop computing skills in primaries.
She wants children in primary schools to learn about coding. Meanwhile, Oxford Brookes University will develop an online course for teachers in primary schools.
Other tech firms at the BETT conference include Intel, which is launching an education content management portal aimed at teachers. Intel wants teachers to help develop the so-called “three Rs” of reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic.

 

Google only forgets in Europe

thanks-for-the-memory-movie-poster-1938-1020198195Search engine Google has decided to incur the wrath of the EU and only remove search results from European websites when individuals invoke their “right to be forgotten”, contrary to regulators’ guidelines.

The company’s chief legal officer David Drummond said that Google is reviewing that policy but it has not changed since November.

“We’ve had a basic approach, we’ve followed it, on this question we’ve made removals Europe-wide but not beyond,” he said.

Google has consistently argued that it believes the ruling should only apply to its European websites, such as Google.de in Germany or Google.fr in France.

However, privacy watchdogs from EU countries, the Article 29 Working Party, concluded in November that they want search engines to scrub results globally because it is easy to swap from Google.co.uk to Google.com.

Google feels that there has to be limits to the rules because it really is a European concept. In the US, it is considered OK to libel someone and then have the smear hang around for decades.

Since the ruling in May, Google has received more than 200,000 requests from across Europe affecting over 700,000 URLs, according to its online transparency report.

Citizens whose removal requests have been refused by a search engine can appeal to their national data protection regulator, who can then take action against the company.

Google to buy Softcard

google-IC Google is having a quiet word with the mobile-payments company Softcard with a view to buying the outfit.

The move would link  Google with the largest US wireless carriers to battle Apple and its much hyped but mostly ignored Apple Pay service.

The deal may be valued below $100 million, the report said citing sources.

Softcard is jointly owned by AT&T, Verizon Communication, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US.

So far it is seen as rumour and speculation and no one is commenting on the record about it.  However, if Google does buy the outfit it will give it significant clout in the payment markets.  However, at the moment most of the focus is on the bigger retailers coming up with payment systems of their own.

The fear with Google or Apple getting their paws on transaction data is that you can be bothered by advertising based on your buying  history, which could be embarrassing if you went to a stripper club once.

 

 

Google Glass killed off

Google's Eric "Google Glass" SchmidtGoogle is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear, but insists that it will launch the smart glasses as a consumer product one of these days.

Google said that it will instead focus on “future versions of Glass” with work carried out by a different division to before.

But it means that the Explorer programme, which gave software developers the chance to buy Glass for $1,500 will close.

It had been expected that once developers wrote some code to run on Glass it would be followed reasonably quickly by a full consumer launch.

However that did not happen and some feared that it would be it would be left in one of Google’s Beta hells for a thousand years.

Now it seems that that the Glass team will also move out of the Google X division which engages in “blue sky” research, and become a separate undertaking, under its current manager Ivy Ross.

Ross and the Glass team will report to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of the home automation business Nest, acquired by Google a year ago.

Fadell told the BBC   that the project had “broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike” and he was excited to be working with the team “to integrate those learnings into future products”.

Google says it is committed to working on the future of the product, but is not giving any timescale when we will see it or see through it. Intel had pledged to support Google Glass – Tesco launched a Google Glass app earlier this week.

Go figure….

 

IBM predicts future of the car

IBM logoInternational Business Machines (IBM) has commissioned a survey which predicts what cars will be like in 2025.
And unlike other IT companies, such as Google, IBM doesn’t think we’ll have fully automated or autonomous driving.
However, after surveying 175 executives from car manufacturers and other sectors, we will see some pretty big changes when we’re driving up the A34 out of Oxford.
For example, by 2025, a car will configure itself to a driver and passengers.  In addition, it “will learn, heal, drive and socialise” not only with other cars but with the environment too.
Fifty seven percent of those surveyed believe vehicles will be part of a social network sharing weather and traffic conditions, as well as communicating with other vehicles of the same kind if problems develop.
Despite optimistic claims for driverless cars, only eight percent of those surveyed think it will be commonplace by 2025.
But partially automated driving will be pretty common.

 

Google takes aim at five billion people

330ogleSoftware giant Google will introduce a modular mobile phone that it says will be affordable for the five billion people who don’t yet have a smartphone.
Google is increasingly moving into the hardware business.
It will build the machines in Puerto Rico.
According to the BBC, the Google modular phone will include a 3G chip, with a pilot arriving in the second half of this year.
There will be between 20 and 30 clip on modules that connect to a frame, with modules including screen, batteries and cameras.
The modules will connect to the frame using magnets.
There’s no news yet on pricing, but to appeal to the five billion people that don’t have smartphones it will have to be cheap.