Jun 1 2010

Google Tries to Phase out Windows

According to sources within Google, the search giant is currently trying to phase out the Microsoft Windows operating system on company computers in order to reduce security problems. Google and Microsoft have been rivals for some time now and the two companies have become increasingly hostile in recent months.

Google experienced attacks in China that resulted from a flaw in Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer. Coupled with the fact that Google has a web browser (Chrome) and is planning an operating system (Chrome OS), the move makes sense. Why should Google give Microsoft, a competitor, any more money by buying a competing operating system?

Some security analysts have said the move is not as logical as it seems. According to them, although Windows is often the target of hackers, because of this it has excellent security features that are allegedly not found in other operating systems, such as Mac OS X. By switching, Google will actually open itself up to more attacks.

I know there are not many attempted attacks on Mac OS X because not nearly as many people use it as Windows and I hope Google’s move does not increase the number of attacks on Mac. Maybe it’s time to start learning Linux…

Via PC World, image via Google.

May 31 2010

Russian Search Engine Challenges Google

Google is the premier search engine today, the search engine that other competing search engine companies dream of dethroning. So far, that has not happened yet, but Google is facing a formidable competitor: a Russian search engine called Yandex.

Though many Americans may not have heard of Yandex, it is extremely popular in Russia. Founded in 1997, it is the search engine of choice for many Russians and is actually quite good—for searching the Runet (Russian Internet), it rivals Google.ru, the Russian version of Google. Yandex launched its international, English-language version on May 19 at Yandex.com.

The international version of Yandex is also very good. It may even rival Google: its results are relevant and accurate. It is certainly better than Microsoft’s Bing (which, in all honesty, I have not found to be all that bad). Google originally took off because it had the best results of any search engine, but over the years it has deteriorated. Could Yandex be the next big thing? Only time will tell.

Via the Belfast Telegraph, image via Yandex.

May 25 2010

Google Buys AdMob, Threatens Apple

Apple has been trying to break into mobile advertising recently and it seemed as if it would succeed in this endeavor due to iAd, a mobile ad service the company launched last month. However, Google is not going to give up its primacy in online advertising without a fight, as evidenced by a recent acquisition, AdMob Inc. With the purchase of this company, which was just recently cleared by regulators, Google will become the largest mobile advertising company.

Google’s acquisition of AdMob could make Android more attractive to advertisers who want to reach a large audience. This in turn could facilitate Android’s growth and even allow Android to surpass Apple by 2013. Though Apple is still a lot more widespread than Android, Android is increasing at a much faster rate and this incredible increase will allow it to pass Apple in the near future.

Both Apple and Google have declined to comment about the situation.

Via Business Week, image via AdMob.

May 24 2010

Google To Steal Apple’s ‘Cult’ Status?

At Google’s developer event last week, something strange happened: the high energy present made it more like an Apple event than a Google event. Could Google be ascending in popularity and eventually achieve the cult status that Apple has held for so long?

Many people are showing support for Android, and some have suggested that this means Apple is now trying to catch up to Google. At the event, Google introduced Froyo, the updated version of Android, which got people talking. Apple needs to do something new and exciting at WWDC or it will be left behind.

The funny thing is, in this whole Apple vs. Google battle, Microsoft is left out. Apple is cool, Google is on the way to becoming cool, and Microsoft is so uncool that it’s forgotten. But if Google wants to continue being in the ascendant, it needs to deal with some major issues, such as how Android and Chrome OS will work together.

Via CNET, image via Google.

May 20 2010

Google Launches TV Service

Google launched a new service today called Google TV in an attempt to expand beyond its usual area of business. At the launch, Google took a few jabs at Apple for not supporting Adobe Flash, saying, “It turns out on the Internet people use Flash.” The Google TV will use the next version of Flash.

But Google is not putting all its eggs in one basket: at its developer conference, it hosted a session for HTML5, the competitor to Flash that Apple’s Steve Jobs has embraced. Google has said it sees Adobe Flash and HTML5 coexisting (I personally do not agree with Google on this point).

Some have accused Google of being duplicitous, but I think that is an unfair accusation. Google is just trying to keep all its options open, which it ought to do, especially after the failure of its smartphone, Nexus One.

Via MarketWatch.

May 19 2010

Google’s Android Beats Microsoft, Challenges Apple

Google’s Android operating system was the fourth most popular during the first quarter, according to the research firm Gartner. Android was in ten percent of smartphones sold, which put it behind Nokia’s Symbian, Research in Motion, and Apple. Gartner said that Android will beat Apple as soon as there are more handset makers using it.

Even though Apple’s App Store boasts over 200,000 apps to Google’s 38,000, Android’s openness has made it become more popular with developers. Many developers are choosing to write apps for Android, not Apple. Developers typically choose a limited number of mobile platforms to write software for.

Microsoft’s mobile OS has become less and less popular on smartphones. Microsoft is trying to compete with the iPhone by having high standards for handsets that use its software. But more and more handset makers are turning to Android, which is free—Microsoft charges a licensing fee to those using its software (it is the only major company to do so).

Via Reuters, image via Reuters.

May 14 2010

First Chrome OS Device to be an Acer Netbook

In a couple weeks — two to be exact — Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer is rumored to be launching netbooks (and possibly other tech devices) that run on the Google Chrome OS.  The official display will take place at the Computex Taipei Show that will be held from June 1 to June 5.

It’s still uncertain what other devices the Google Chrome OS will be featured in, but Google has mentioned that smartbooks and tablets running ARM processors would be likely vehicles.  There has recently been rumors that Samsung is developing ARM-based smartbooks running Chrome.

Using an OS other than Google Android for netbooks is a good idea.  The Android OS is better suited for tablets and cell phones.  Google originally planned to release the Chrome operating system during the second half of 2010.  The rumored Acer Chrome OS-based netbook is expected to launch in June, so that’s just perfect.

Via VentureBeat and CoolTechZone.

May 12 2010

Microsoft and Google Feud Over Office

Microsoft has apparently taken offense to Google’s recent suggestion that users not upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010. Google’s logic was that Google Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better because users can share documents in their original formats in a cloud. Google is also planning to add real-time collaboration in a few months.

Microsoft has said that Office 2003 and 2007 cannot work properly together because Google Docs converts documents to different formats, which strips out certain page elements. Microsoft Office 2010 allegedly makes documents appear almost identically when they are viewed through a web browser.

Using Google Docs is certainly a cheaper option for businesses: $50 per year vs. $499 plus other costs for the professional version of Office. Though Microsoft Office is a trusted product for businesses, Google Docs would save companies a huge amount of money, which is always a concern for companies.

Via CRN.

May 12 2010

Verizon and Google Team Up For Tablet

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam announced recently that his company and Google are going to work together to develop a tablet to compete with the iPad. McAdam did not mention very many details, so the tech blogosphere is bursting with questions.

The first question is why Google has not mentioned its involvement in the tablet. Verizon has spoken openly about it, but Google has not made a single public comment concerning the new device. Google’s silence has led some analysts to believe that Verizon has completely invented the tablet in order to get a better deal with Apple for the iPhone and iPad.

The next question is who would make the Verizon-Google tablet. It’s supposed to run Android OS, which would suggest either HTC or Motorola making it, as these two companies are the most prominent on Verizon’s network to use Android. Furthermore, how much would Verizon influence the tablet? Would it be locked into the Verizon App Store or would is be able to use Android’s marketplace? All these questions will hopefully answered later this week.

Via PC World, image via PC World.

May 5 2010

Google Plans to Sell E-Books

Apple and Amazon had better watch out. Google announced this morning that it intends to start selling e-books in late June or July of this year, which would put it in direct competition with both Apple and Amazon.

Of course, Google is not new to the idea of competing with Apple. The search engine giant has increasingly infringed on areas that typically were the domain of Apple. Apple has responded by doing the same to Google.

Google’s e-books will be available for a variety of devices and from a number of different websites. Users will have the ability to buy electronic versions of books they find through Google Books, Google’s book search service. Book retailers will be allowed to sell Google’s versions on their websites.

Apple itself is actually a relatively recent entrant to the e-book market—it entered the market on April 3, with the release of the iPad. There have also been rumors that Google is planning to release a tablet that will compete with the iPad.

Via AppleInsider, image via Google.

Apr 30 2010

Adobe To Give Employees Free Android Phones

In a move that is not surprising considering the animosity between Adobe and Apple, Adobe is planning to give away free Android-based phones to its employees, according to three sources familiar with the company. Adobe has also said that it plans to develop a version of Flash for the Android platform and show it off at the Google I/O conference.

No one is sure which phone Adobe employees will receive—there has been speculation that it will be a Nexus One or an HTC phone. The shift will not be mandatory, but it’s clear that Adobe and Google want to encourage Adobe employees to use Android and Flash Player as often as possible.

Google is known for giving away Android phones very generously. It is planning to give all Google I/O attendees a Motorola Droid or a Nexus One. Earlier this month, it gave audience members at a Google Apps event Nexus Ones.

It is also unclear whether just developers or all employees will get the free phones at Adobe.

Via CNET, image via CNET.

Apr 21 2010

Google Chromium-Based Netbooks Priced at $300-$400

According to Google Chief Eric Schmidt, netbooks running on Google’s new Chromium operating system that are expected to be on sale in retail stores by the end of this year or early next year will be priced in the $300-$400 range. “Those prices are completely determined by the costs of the glass, the costs of the processor and things like that, but in our case Chrome OS and Android are free so there is no software tax associated with all of this,” Schmidt says.

Google introduced the Chrome operating system two months ago and boasted it as a lightweight, browser-based OS that could boot up in seven seconds or less.  The company has not yet revealed who they will be partnering with to manufacture their new netbooks, but Acer has said that it expects to offer about a million of these devices this year.

Google’s trying hard to get into the netbook market and is up for a fight against its competitors, namely Windows-based devices.  Guess we’ll just have to wait to see Google’s latest creation.

Via Wired.

Apr 12 2010

Rumor: Google Is Developing an Android Tablet

The iPad may be facing more competition in coming months in the form of an Android-powered tablet made by Google. This is just a rumor and no specifics are known, but it is nevertheless intriguing.

According to an article in The New York Times, Google is currently exploring the idea of creating a tablet. The information allegedly came from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was heard chatting about it with friends at a party this weekend.

Knowing what we know about the Android operating system, we can surmise that a Google tablet would probably be a lot more open than Apple’s iPad. Apple is pretty strict about developing for its devices, but Google’s Android Market allows developers to submit apps without being scrutinized. Android-powered devices also allow users to download apps from unofficial third-party sources. An Android tablet would also be likely to support Flash, unlike Apple’s mobile devices.

Though speculating about a future Google tablet is fun, we must remember that, at this point, it is definitely not a certainty. All we know right now is that Google is exploring the idea.

Via PC World, image via PC World.

Apr 5 2010

Google Buys Video Service Company

Google has made yet another acquisition. This time it’s a small video service company called Episodic. Episodic will help out with YouTube, the popular video website that Google owns.

Episodic is an online video hosting service that gives users the capability to publish live streams and on-demand content. Users have control over advertisements and ads in their videos. They can make money from their video channels by having advertisements or charging for content via credit card. Episodic is optimized for mobile viewing as well, including the iPhone.

For now, new user sign-up is suspended while the details of the acquisition get sorted out. Users can register to be contacted once sign-up is available again.

According to TechCrunch, Episodic will be incorporated into YouTube and the Episodic staff will join the YouTube offices. Google is either planning to redo online video (which would not be surprising considering Apple’s rejection of Flash, since Flash powers YouTube videos) or wants to keep buying one small company per month (since January 2010, it has bought DocVerse, Picnik, reMail, and Aardvark).

Via PC World, image via Episodic.

Mar 31 2010

Google Defies Apple by Supporting Flash

Apple famously does not support Adobe Flash on its mobile devices. Steve Jobs has spoken out against Flash (the man’s insistent resistance to giving us iPhone users Flash support drives me crazy) rather strongly in the past.

However, Apple is one of the only companies that harbors such a vendetta against Flash. Apple’s recent competitor, Google, has announced that it will support Flash by bundling Adobe Flash Player with downloads of its Google Chrome browser. Chrome is used by only five percent of Internet users, but Google is a big company that has a very large presence as a search engine and as an online advertiser, so its support will be important to Adobe.

A Google spokesperson said that Flash will be integrated seamlessly into Chrome and and “truly feel like a part of the browser.”

In contrast to Google’s support of Flash, Apple has expressed support of HTML 5, which allows users to view video content even if they do not have Flash installed.

Via Wired, image via Google.

Mar 28 2010

Google’s Ad Network Keeps A Record Of Your History Even If You Don’t Want To

Oh Google, why must you squander away the good faith you had won with the China move?  Google has made public today an advertising plan known as “remarketing” that stores a history of all your visited sites in their ad network, allowing for ads to pop-up on any of the eligible sites targeted to you.  In other words, if you visited product X’s site in the past, you could see an ad for it on completely unrelated web page Y.

Besides adding to the massive number of ads that already lie on the internet, this program raises some thorny questions.  Mainly: is Google completely throwing out whatever shred of privacy they kept for their consumers?  They already had a similar program in place called “interest-based advertising”.  The difference is back then it was just categories and interests that were kept, and now it is specific individual websites that you have visited.

This is being called by some a major privacy risk.  Lawmakers might decide to weigh in on whether or not the practice should be regulated.  Till then, you can hope that opting out of the interest based ad service here will result in you being exempt from “remarketing”.

Via Gizmodo

Mar 27 2010

Rumor: Apple May Be Prepping Mobile Ad Service

There’s no official word confirming this rumor from the super-secret company that is Apple, but according to some reports, Apple is set to launch a mobile ad service called iAd. iAd will allegedly be based on Quattro, an online ad company that Apple purchased earlier this year. According to sources, Steve Jobs has high hopes for iAd and has called it “our next big thing.”

iAd would make it easier for app developers to put advertisements in their applications. iAd would also further strain the already tense relations between Apple and Google by creating yet another area of competition between the two companies. Google also recently purchased an online ad company called AdMob to strengthen its position in the mobile ad market.

Apple, of course, has not yet commented about iAd, following its usual policy of not commenting ahead of time on unannounced services and products.

Via The Mac Observer.

Mar 27 2010

Apple and Google CEOs Have Coffee Together

BFFs? I think not.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were spotted earlier in the day having coffee together at a Palo Alto coffee shop.

Google and Apple, two companies that used to be friendly with each other, have grown increasingly competitive in recent months. The enmity comes from Google entering what is perceived as Apple’s traditional part of the market: smartphones (Android is a competitor to the iPhone OS), browsers (Google Chrome, anyone?) and even operating systems (Google’s Chrome OS will compete with Mac OS X).

Jobs and Schmidt continued their discussion until they saw a crowd growing. According to an observer, Jobs then said, “Let’s go discuss this somewhere more private.” The only other thing heard from the discussion was Jobs saying, “They’re going to see it all eventually so who cares how they get it.”

Gizmodo reported about the meeting of the two CEOs, going as far as to hire a body language analyst (bottom line: the two men were extremely uncomfortable with each other). Though it would be easier and more accurate to analyze their body language from a video rather than from just photos, the analyst concluded that Schmidt is afraid of Jobs. Such fear is perhaps inspired by Apple’s recent lawsuit against HTC.

Via Examiner, image via Gizmodo.

Mar 22 2010

Google.cn Is Officially Dead

Google, after months of rhetoric and final plans announced only a week ago, has officially stopped hosting a separate site for Google.cn.  All people going to the old domain name are being rerouted to the uncensored Hong Kong site.  This is the result of a long standing row between the world’s largest search engine and the world’s most populous country.  For those of you who forgot how it all started, in January Google complained of several Chinese hackers breaking into email accounts in what it called a “sophisticated cyber attack originating from China”.

Three months and several failed negotiations between the Chinese government and Google later, Google has refused to operate in China if it needs to conform with censorship laws.  The US government expressed disappointment that the issues could not have been worked out between the two superpowers.  Meanwhile, China chastised Google’s decision, saying Google had violated its written promise when coming to work in China, and that it was in league with the US government.

While many bystanders and bloggers have criticized the Google decision as rash and too idealistic, I believe this is a decision that was long overdue on the part of Google.  Google has today made a move that the most powerful democracies in the world have been too afraid to: snub China for its censorship and human rights record.  Google was simply being used as a puppet by the Chinese regime to deflect concerns of a non-open society.  Now the contradiction known as Google.cn is gone, and Google has a chance at re-attaining the “Do No Evil” motto they so dearly held to long ago.

Via BBC News

Mar 21 2010

Google: Viacom Secretly Uploaded Own Clips To YouTube, Asked For Subsequent Removal

Viacom’s one billion dollar case against Google over distribution of its copyrighted video on YouTube just took a turn for the worse.  Google has made the very damning accusation that Viacom actually supported in efforts to have its content put on YouTube as pirated material, only to demand from YouTube later to pull the infringing videos.  If these allegations are true, they would severely case Viacom’s legitimacy in the suit that began in March 2007 against YouTube for allowing 160,000 of Viacom’s videos to be posted.

The opening briefs of the case were released on Friday, and Google posted a scathing blog entry in the Official YouTube blog about this whole case.  The first portion of it is dedicated to the ideological factor of this case.  It points out that when content is made, regardless of who is the maker, there is a copyright on it, and the responsibility falls on the creator to whether or not it should be legal for the video to be hosted online.  The hosting service provider, in this case YouTube, does not need to make this distinction.

The earth-shattering stuff comes later on. Google begins describing a very systematic and sophisticated process used by Viacom to enhance the problem of pirated videos:

“For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.”

Already, these are pretty steep accusations which question Viacom’s rationale regarding this whole case.  It gets even worse when Viacom suddenly decided to demand YouTube remove videos en masse, only to ask for some of them to be reposted.  The situation is best summed up with line: “In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.”  If Google can show these allegations to be true, then Viacom’s entire case might be in the trash.

Via DailyTech

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