Tag: Google

Facebook takes on Linkedin

Mark Zuckerberg - WikimedaSocial networking site Facebook is apparently readying a rival to Linkedin – a site that some people occasionally use for work to share resumes and the like.

The Financial Times originally broke the news and claims that Facebook, which has already lost popularity with younger people, will let people tie up with their professional contacts and chat to their colleagues.

It’s not only Linkedin that Facebook may compete against – the report suggested that Microsoft’s Yammer and Google are in Facebook’s sights too.

But Facebook faces increasing criticism that material posted by people worldwide form the basis of a marketing initiative that breaches personal privacy and can cause unexpected consequences.

In view of this, business professionals may feel it’s a bit much to trust their resumes/CVs into the hands of a company that’s already facing criticism because of privacy concerns.

Facebook made no comment at press time but is continually looking at ways to stretch its global database reach.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy Linkedin, which is a publicly listed company?

Goggle Glass goes dim

OgleA cunning plan by Google to let us snoop on each other and record it on the internet now appears to be an idea without legs.

Information on the superinformation highway – that is to say from Vanity Fair and Reuters suggests that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is tired of the idea.

Reuters reports that the beta version of Google Glass, which will set you back a cool $1,500, has lost interest not only from end users but from developers too – a sure kiss of death for any bit of hardware you may care to name.

Further, there appears to be ennui in the Google Plex, with Reuters further reporting that a number of employees dedicated to the x-ray specs have quit the coop for pastures new.

Further a consortium which appeared to be hoping to finance the Glass “egosystem” – as computer execs call the cloud of vultures that circle round a possible bright new shiny bit of tech bling, appears to have shuffled off its mortal case.

And Vanity Fair?  It has a different take on the whole Google Glass phenomenon and that involves love….

Microsoft loses ground in schools race

1920-track_field_bellcounty_30yd_dashSoftware giant Microsoft is losing ground to the likes of Apple and Google in the race to get its gear into schools.

According to consultant Pablo Valerio,  the reason is nothing to do with marketing to kids and parents, but because it is falling short when it comes to providing teaching apps and its licencing arrangements.

Apple’s Teacher Tools and Google’s Chromebook Management Console are fuelling the adoption of Chromebooks and iPads, leaving Microsoft behind.

The recent Microsoft TechEd Europe event showed that Microsoft was close to sorting out the lack of Apps with the upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

However, Microsoft has not solved the issue of having to purchase a licence for each user as each user that logs into a device will use a licence, so that license will be taken down and it would not go back dynamically.

This will cause a heavy bill for schools with limited numbers of computers and hundreds of students using them.

Google Chromebooks have Chrome OS with specific tools for schools to manage the devices, their apps and users. Its Chromebooks for Education program is helping schools deploy large numbers of devices with an easy management system.

While it is possible to buy a small Windows laptop for about the same price of a basic Chromebook, the associated management and support costs are enormous in comparison. Also Chromebooks are pre-loaded with apps such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, with similar functionality to Microsoft’s Office.

Apple is the leader in the education market thanks to having the biggest collection of education apps available today, plus some unique management tools, some by Apple and some by MDM providers such as AirWatch, he said.


Google did evil to the Berlin Wall

ap6108231298-ab0817725a55e10f913b3d4d8f1ba2d18f00f8d4-s6-c30 Over the weekend, Google celebrated the Fall of the Berlin Wall with one of its doodles, failing to note its part in the history of one of the sections.

According to the Google Doodle team, they  “took a short bike ride from our Mountain View, California headquarters to our local public library to study an actual piece of the Berlin Wall.” These segments of the Berlin Wall were featured in the Doodle.

What the post fails to mention is how the two sections ended up at the library and how it might not have had to do that cycle ride if it had taken a less evil interest in history sooner.

The 12-foot-tall remnants sections of wall were bought over to the US by German-born businessman Frank Golzen. It all seemed fair enough. After all, they were spoils of a war which the US had spent a lot of time and money winning and made a suitable monument to the victory. They were placed in the Bayside Business Plaza where they were a lot more attractive than many of the other things on the estate and provided a bit of history that is missing in many Industrial Parks.

In 2012, Google bought the entire park, did not like the inclusion of the two sections of the Berlin Wall, and gave the Golzen family until summer 2013 to take the historic Berlin Wall out of the industrial park.

A 2012 City of Mountain View Staff Report stated that although the donating family has until next summer to remove the installation from the current location, their preference (and the preference of the new owner of the property) was to remove it sooner.

However, the recommendation to relocate the seven-ton concrete slabs to remote Charleston Park, adjacent to the Googleplex, was nixed by the City Council, who voted instead to move the Berlin Wall sections to its current home in front of a downtown public library. The walls were moved and re-dedicated in November last year.


German publisher realises Google calls the shots

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyGerman publisher Axel Springer has just worked out what the rest of the world already knew – Google controls the press.

Springer has scrapped a move to block Google from running snippets of articles from its newspapers, saying that the experiment had caused traffic to its sites to plunge.

Traffic flowing from clicks on Google search results fell by 40 percent and traffic delivered via Google News had plummeted by 80 percent in the past two weeks.  This mimicked what happened when Google changed its algorithm and destroyed many tech news sites overnight.

A two-week-old experiment to restrict access by Google to some of its publications had caused web traffic to plunge for these sites.

He discovered, somewhat belatedly that publishers no longer decide who sees their content, it is more or less decided when Google decides who will appear in its search items.

Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner said his company would have “shot ourselves out of the market” if it had continued with its demands for the US firm to pay licensing fees. Springer had sought to restrict Google’s use of news from four of its top-selling brands: welt.de, computerbild.de, sportbild.de and autobild.de, the company said.

Springer, which publishes Europe’s top-selling daily newspaper Bild, said Google’s grip over online audiences was too great to resist, a double-edged compliment meant to ram home the publisher’s criticism of what it calls Google’s monopoly powers.

Publishers in countries from Germany and France to Spain have pushed to pass new national copyright laws that force Google and other web aggregators to pay licensing fees – dubbed the Google Tax – when they publish snippets of their news articles.

Under German legislation that came into effect last year, publishers can prohibit search engines and similar services from using their news articles beyond headlines. Last week, Spain’s upper house passed a similar law giving publishers an “inalienable” right to levy such licensing fees on Google.

The only problem is that if they do that, they end up cutting their own throats.



HTC shows signs of recovery

Nexus 9Cooperation between mobile firm HTC and Google is giving the Taiwanese firm a boost.

According to the Taipei Times, orders for the Nexus 9 tablet have exceeded expectations and that means HTC has ramped up its production facilities.

HTC mobile phones are considered to be some of the most stylish smartphones on the market, but a lack of marketing budget has seen the firm struggling to compete with the majors in the market.

HTC doesn’t really play in the tablet market on its own and the report suggests it is taking a cautious view on revenues in the sector  before it launches products it no doubt has, waiting on the sidelines.

Earlier this week HTC released figures for October 2014 showing unaudited revenues of NT$15.8 billion.  Companies listed on the Taiwanese bourse report monthly rather than quarterly figures.

Google cuts out the server middlemen

HP-MicroServerA report said that Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) Quanta will supply search engine giant Google with its servers in 2015.

Google has long abandoned the habit of using “brand name” servers from the likes of Dell, HP or IBM/Lenovo.

The news, reported in Digitimes, confirms a recent survey saying that the ODMs, which often build machines that are then subsequently branded, are taking market share from the brand names.

It’s not just Google that is following this path.  Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft also buy their servers direct.  Quanta has benefited more from these changes in buying patterns because it has been quicker to realise the money involved than rivals such as Taiwanese company Inventec.

Until comparatively recently, Quanta’s entire business was building notebook machines, subsequently branded by others.  But the bottom has somewhat fallen out of the notebook business with the rise of tablets and smartphones.

GCHQ head hits out at IT companies

GCHQ buildingThe newly appointed head of spy outfit GCHQ has said computer companies like Facebook and Twitter are not doing enough to help security services catch criminals and terrorists.

Robert Hannigan went a little further than that and accused technology outfits of being “command and control networks for terrorists and criminals”.

The Islamic State, for example, used the web as a channel to promote itself, frighten people and radicalise new recruits.

Hannigan said: “But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.”

He also criticised the security of communications saying that encryption methods which were once the domain of nation states are now commonplace.  For example, Apple and Google include encryption in their mobile operating systems as a way of protecting people’s security and privacy.

He wants the tech companies to provide more support.

Google is too grown up to “do no evil”

 darth-vaderGoogle thinks that it has matured as a company and it no longer needs its “do no evil” mantra.

Google’s chief executive Larry Page said that the company needs a new statement about its corporate ambitions but denies that he has joined the dark side.

He thinks Google is in uncharted territory and ‘trying to figure it out’ a new mission statement for the next 100 years.

Google’s chief executive Larry Page has admitted that the company has outgrown its mission statement to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” from the launch of the company in 1998, but has said he does not yet know how to redefine it.

However, Page thinks that in getting bigger, Google does not need to dump the altruistic principles that it was founded on in 1998. He and co-founder Sergey Brin were aiming big with “societal goals” to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Over the years, Google has been accused of doing evil by wielding too much influence over the internet.

It has faced anti-monopoly probes by the European commission and most recently pressure from Europe over the “right to be forgotten” forced to remove search listings to information deemed to be outdated and not in the public interest which saw Britons request over 60,000 links be deleted by October.


Android creator walks from Google

Forbidden-Planet-528x812Andy Rubin, co-founder of the  Android mobile business and head of its robotics effort is leaving Google.

According to a statement from Google, Rubin will start a company to support startups interested in building technology-hardware products.

It is possible that Rubin is getting a little bored. Last year, Google’s browser and applications chief Sundar Pichai replaced Rubin as head of the Android division, bringing the firm’s mobile software, applications and Chrome browser under one roof.

Android was pretty much Rubin’s baby having built it into a free, open-source software platform now used by most of the world’s largest handset manufacturers. He switched from that role to lead a series of robotics acquisitions for Google in 2013.

Word on the street is that Rubin likes to run his own show and was facing constraints on his activities at Google. However, Rubin himself has said that he did not really have any problems with independence at Google and left because he wanted to do something new on his own.

Apple and Google Play blocked

onedollarIt is starting to look like the numbers of retailers who back Apple, Google pay is shrinking rather than growing, and that US retailers are rushing to set up their own system instead.

When Apple launched Apple Pay in September, the list of retailers who backed it was long, but in the weeks following the launch, some major retailers have blocked it in favour of a competing option set to debut in 2015.

Apple Pay was operational at NFC terminals at Rite Aid and CVS, both non-Apple Pay partners, but was reportedly disabled over the course of the last 48 hours.

A CVS employee said that the company disabled NFC payments over the weekend which would also prevent Google Wallet users from using NFC payments.

A leaked memo, revealed on Friday by Slashgear, suggested that the retailers have decided they want nothing to do with Apple Pay and are working with a group of large retailers to develop a mobile wallet that allows for mobile payments attached to credit cards and bank accounts directly from a smart phone. We expect to have this feature available in the first half of 2015.

The new payment system mentioned in the alleged leaked Rite Aid memo is a solution developed by Merchant Customer Exchange  called CurrentC. Other confirmed major retailers included in the system will be CVS, Kmart, Sears, Target, Walmart, Best Buy and 7 Eleven, the cream of the crop of mainstream retailers in the US.

The Tame Apple Press is screaming blue murder at the scheme which is likely to allow merchants to avoid paying credit card processing fees and give them more information about customers.  Everyone knows that this sort of data should be in the hands of technology companies rather than retailers.

But what this means is that Apple Pay may have the traction that the Tame Apple Press claimed.

Google hires Oxford boffins to provide AI

oxford-robesGoogle is finding itself a little short on intelligence and has been seen snuffling around near the Oxford headquarters of TechEye.

When cornered, near one of the wheelie bins at the back of public house the Kite, a Google staffer explained that the search engine was expanding its artificial intelligence initiative. Apparently, they are hiring more than half a dozen leading academics and experts in the field and announcing a partnership with Oxford University to “accelerate” its efforts.

Apparently, Google will make a “substantial contribution” to establish a research partnership with Oxford’s computer science and engineering departments, and Oxford will return the favour by holding one of its famous dinners.

Google did not provide any financial details about the partnership, saying only in a post on its blog that it will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops “to share knowledge and expertise.”

Google is building up its artificial intelligence capabilities as it strives to maintain its dominance in the Internet search market and to develop new products such as robotics and self-driving cars. In January Google acquired artificial intelligence company Deep Mind for $400 million according to media reports.

The Oxford boffins will be joining Google’s Deep Mind team, including three artificial intelligence experts whose work has focused on improving computer visual recognition systems. Among that team is Oxford Professor Andrew Zisserman, a three-time winner of the Marr Prize for computer vision.

The four founders of Dark Blue Labs will also be joining Google where they will be will be leading efforts to help machines “better understand what users are saying to them.”

Google said that three of the professors will hold joint appointments at Oxford, continuing to work part time at the university.


Amazon invests in German datacentres

amazonsMany people might think that Amazon is where you buy your books, your Hue lights and your CDs but behind the scenes it is  becoming a major player in the datacentre business.

And now, according to the Financial Times, Amazon will build several datacentres in Frankfurt in a bid to allay customers’ fears that their data is housed in places where security and privacy are not as high a priority as in Germany.

The FT reports that the EU has much stricter data protection laws than other territories.  And, of the EU countries, Germany has the best privacy control.

A senior VP of Amazon Web Services told the FT that many of its German customers would prefer to have their data held locally. Although a figure hasn’t been placed on the German infrastructure investment, it’s believed that such a project will require a multimillion dollar investment.

US providers like Google, Rackspace and others compete with Amazon but are based in the USA.  Amazon is believed to generate revenues from its cloud business amounting to over $5 billion during 2014.

Chromebooks start to shine brightly

google-ICNotebooks using the conventional Wintel model seem to be past history, but Chromebooks are selling like there’s no tomorrow.

That’s the conclusion of research by ABI Research, which said that shipments of Chromebooks soared by 67 percent in a quarter.

Acer is the top dog in the sector, followed by Samsung and HP – those three accounted for 74 percent of shipment share during the first half of this year.  That isn’t going to change in the second half of this year, said ABI.

So-called vertical markets like schools are a driving force, and Chromebooks also sell well in emerging markets. But ABI said that North America will account for 78 percent of the Chromebook market and other regions such as Asia Pacific and Western Europe are set to grow shipment market share over the next five years.

Stephanie Van Vactor, an analyst at ABI, said that while Chromebooks might be a temporary fad like the netbook, but the price and design mean that it’s attractive to the world+dog.

“People are hungry for a product that is cost effective but also provide the versatility and functionality of a laptop,” she said.

Driverless car hits 149MPH

Audi's Hackenberg with the RS7 driverless carGerman car firm Audi said it has demonstrated a car without a driver clocking nearly 150MPH at the Hockhenheim racing circuit.

A number of automotive manufacturers are experimenting with the concept of cars that don’t need drivers.  And Google is at the forefront of such attempts.

It may be quite a while before we see such vehicles on the roads, however, with a number of obstacles on the way including the question of liability in case of accidents.

The RS7 Audi used a heap of sensors including GPS to navigate around the race track, with the data generated being analysed and processed by software. The car took two minutes to complete one lap of the circuit.

Software is notoriously bug ridden and some governments would be a little nervous about licensing potential death traps to scoot around increasingly congested cities.

Audi board member Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said the test allowed Audi to test several concepts which could be applied to cars with drivers.