What else need be said?…
Jul 30th 2011 | from the print edition
Excerpt from an extensive Bing market snapshot
Microsoft has gained some ground. Its Bing search site has steadily picked up traffic since its introduction two years ago, accounting for more than 14 percent of searches in the American market, according to comScore. Add the searches that Microsoft handles for Yahoo, in a partnership begun last year, and Microsoft’s search technology fields 30 percent of the total.
Yet those gains have not come at the expense of Google. Its two-thirds share of the market in the United States — Google claims an even higher share in many foreign markets — has remained unchanged in the last two years. The share losers have been Yahoo and smaller search players.
Budget crisis reading recommended by Bill Gates
That’s made very clear by USA Inc., an excellent, new, non-partisan report. It’s by Mary Meeker, a highly respected financial analyst and partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, the very successful venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley. Mary’s report looks at the financials of the U.S. government as a business. It vividly demonstrates why the United States is headed toward bankruptcy unless we act decisively to reduce expenses and increase revenues. I want to encourage everyone to read USA Inc. and get involved in helping all levels of government to make the right choices that will put our nation’s public finances on a more sustainable course.
A vocal minority on a Microsoft-focused blog. Posts with Apple-related topics are also generally the most widely-followed on my blog, FWIW.
True fact: The best headline I could ever write to get clicks is "Steve Jobs" anything. I wrote a throwaway blog item about how an iPad app developer got a phone call from Jobs explaining why he was turned down. Scads of traffic.
True fact: People who comment on this blog are not necessarily the people who read this blog. This pie chart below represents the people who comment on this blog.
Sign of the times
Doubtless all this talk of debt ceilings has many Americans saying the same thing: I cannot get enough! Please, more complex budget analysis!
If this sounds like you, look no further. Try Deficit Hawk, the Android phone app for the deficit-obsessed smartphone user on the go. (The Times created a deficit-cutting calculator last November that is still available for solving the nation’s problems.)
Check the article link below for more details
Amazon.com, which has an estimated 70 percent of the online book market in Britain, got closer this week to controlling the rest of it when the Irish Competition Authority approved its pending purchase of a major rival, the Book Depository. But the blessing of the main regulatory body, the Office of Fair Trading, is no sure thing in a country that appears to be more concerned about media monopoly in the wake of the News Corporation hacking scandal.
Interesting intellectual property times
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 11 and 12 recorded more than 1,000 patents assigned to Mountain View, California-based Google by IBM. They cover a range of topics including microprocessing chips, regional databases and memory fabrication and architecture, said Bill Slawski, president of SEO by the Sea Inc., a Warrenton, Virginia-based research firm specializing in search-engine optimization.
“Like many tech companies, at times we’ll acquire patents that are relevant to our business,” Google said yesterday in an e-mailed statement
Excerpt from a James Gleick review of several recent books about Google
How thoroughly and how radically Google has already transformed the information economy has not been well understood. The merchandise of the information economy is not information; it is attention. These commodities have an inverse relationship. When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive. Attention is what we, the users, give to Google, and our attention is what Google sells—concentrated, focused, and crystallized.
Google’s business is not search but advertising. More than 96 percent of its $29 billion in revenue last year came directly from advertising, and most of the rest came from advertising-related services. Google makes more from advertising than all the nation’s newspapers combined. It’s worth understanding precisely how this works. Levy chronicles the development of the advertising engine: a “fantastic achievement in building a money machine from the virtual smoke and mirrors of the Internet.” In The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry), a book that can be read as a sober and admonitory companion, Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media scholar at the University of Virginia, puts it this way: “We are not Google’s customers: we are its product. We—our fancies, fetishes, predilections, and preferences—are what Google sells to advertisers.”
Also see a similar multi-book review/essay, “Google Wants You to Think It Is Virtuous: A New Argument About the World's Most Powerful Company,” by Evgeny Morozov (The New Republic subscription required for full access, at least as of 20110729)
Still a ways to go before the Knowledge Navigator comes to full fruition
Are we on the cusp of an era of ubiquitous "virtual personal assistants"? If Steve Jobs has his way, we just might be.
Back in the spring of 2010, Apple acquired Siri, a company that produced an app that described itself in just those terms. Now, clues dug up recently by 9to5Mac, a site dedicated to scrutinizing all things Apple, suggest that Apple may be ready to introduce Siri-like features in the next version of iOS, its operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Available at no extra cost to Amazon Prime subscribers
Amazon, the online retailing giant, announced a deal with NBCUniversal for access to part of Universal Pictures’ film library on Thursday, its second such pact in the streaming video space in as many weeks.
The attention around its content acquisitions suggests a budding rivalry with Netflix and a strategy of stocking up on films and TV shows for the tablet computer that the company is developing. Much like Apple, Amazon wants to have an assortment of content available for owners of the forthcoming device.
This is your doctor’s smartphone on drugs; any questions?
Epocrates has won over nearly half of the nation’s doctors for its free smartphone apps that lets them look up information on drug dosing, interactions and insurance coverage while seeing a patient.
But like so much else on the Web, “free” comes with a price: doctors must wade through marketing messages on Epocrates that try to sway their choices of which drugs to prescribe.
Strange days indeed
Page Speed Service is the latest tool in Google’s arsenal to help speed up the web. This service is also their most ambitious yet. When you sign up and point your site’s DNS entry to Google, they’ll enable the tool which will fetch your content from your servers, rewrite your webpages, and serve them up from Google’s own servers around the world. Yes, you read all of that correctly.
“Now you don’t have to worry about concatenating CSS, compressing images, caching, gzipping resources,” Google says. Okay, but isn’t that a little freaky, giving Google the ability to re-write and serve your pages on the fly? Perhaps. But if they really can deliver on the results they’re promising, it may be worth it.
A related CNet article adds
Second, the move offers the possibility that Google could use a range of its own technologies to speed up pages more. With more and more people using its Chrome browser, Google increasingly controls both the content on Web servers and the vessel that receives that content. That means Google increasingly can rewire parts of the Internet even if standards bodies move too slowly or disagree with Google's suggested improvements.
How quaint – no XML syndication for this resource, so the Google+ team apparently believes you should favorite/bookmark the site and check it on a regular basis. Maybe they’ll add a post on tool selection criteria, e.g., about when it’s appropriate to use a blog with XML syndication, along with Google Reader…
In response to user feedback, Google has launched a new section of the Google+ center dedicated to Google+ feature updates.
The “What’s new in Google+” section is essentially a list of release notes for the Google+ Project. The updates are smaller than Google’s traditional blog posts, but longer than most of its Help Center pages. It’s a centralized location for finding out what new features Google has added to its social network.
The trends suggest Samsung will soon be the global leader in smartphone sales. On a related note: Motorola Mobility Forecast Trails Estimates as Competition Grows (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
Just hours after research firm IDC released data showing Apple dramatically outpacing the overall mobile phone industry in year-over-year growth for the second quarter of 2011, Strategy Analytics has confirmed that Apple has indeed become the world's largest smartphone manufacturer. In that smaller but faster-growing submarket, Apple dethroned long-time leader Nokia and just barely held off a fast-rising Samsung to take the top spot.
Check the link below for an Economist facial recognition reality check
IF YOUR face and name are anywhere on the web, you may be recognised whenever you walk the streets—not just by cops but by any geek with a computer. That seems to be the conclusion from some new research on the limits of privacy.
A product category-level existential crisis
Sales of Nintendo Co.'s most important new gaming device have plunged since its release, the company said Thursday, prompting the videogame pioneer to slash its profit forecast and scramble to deeply discount the gadget to revive sales.
Nintendo's disclosure that it sold just 710,000 3DS devices in three months, down from 3.6 million the prior quarter, comes as the videogame industry undergoes a painful transformation. Consumers are favoring devices from Apple Inc. and cheaper games that can be played online or easily assessed and played with friends via smartphones.
Room for improvement
“Sales of Logitech Revue were slightly negative during the quarter, as returns of the product were higher than the very modest sales.”
Check the story link below for a social network identity snapshot
So why do the social networks want your real identity?
Google says it is addressing those with genuine complaints, but it maintains that to use the network effectively, users should be able to search for a friend or a family member as quickly and as easily as possible. And that, they say, means demanding real names.
Indeed, the guidelines are very similar to other social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The bestselling Kindle, two weeks after its introduction
Amazon made the revelation in its quarterly earnings report Tuesday. The $139 device is $50 cheaper than the comparable Kindle 3G, and costs the same as a Kindle with Wi-Fi connectivity only (and no 3G). The advertisements appear only in screensavers (which appear when the reader is in an idle state) and at the bottom of the home screen, so they don’t interrupt the reading experience.
“Since AT&T agreed to sponsor screensavers, Kindle 3G with Special Offers is now our bestselling Kindle device,” Amazon’s press release said.
In smartphones and tablets, Samsung is looking like a strong #2 to Apple
As things stand, based on all of the display tests, the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 are reasonably close in performance in most categories, so it's almost a tie, but the Galaxy Tab is ahead more often than the iPad 2, so the Galaxy Tab is the Winner, by a nose. But should Samsung or Android add a color picture control to the Galaxy Tab with a software update as we describe below, then the Galaxy Tab would be the decisive Winner, by a lot. Of course, Apple could do the same.
What is also impressive is that the iPad 2 is still delivering top display performance close to what many predict is the end of its product cycle.
Louis Gray is a happy Chromebook customer
For all the noise I made last year about switching my mobile phone from iOS to Android, in 2011, I am thinking about and using ChromeOS even more than Android of late. As Android works through its growing pains as its handsets give way to tablets and as much news is unfortunately about the legal battles being played out with ecosystem partners battling entrenched competition as continued innovation, ChromeOS has trickled out with Samsung and Acer as its first OEMs. No doubt the earliest models aren't yet putting too much fear into established PC market share unit leaders, who have to be watching the developments with some interest, but as someone who lives on the Web, and has access to the first model from Samsung, it's clear to see how the concept of a Chromebook provides value. As I mentioned in my initial frustrations with slowness on the MacBook Air after I installed Lion, I have increasingly been using the Chromebook as my primary computer, and for good reasons, primarily centered around incredible battery life, easy access to connectivity, synchronization of content and rapid improvements.
A solid state storage snapshot snippet
“It’s one of those things that once you have one, you can never go back,” said Doug Crowthers, 37, a quality manager for a printing company in Lynchburg, Ohio. A computer enthusiast and avid gamer, Mr. Crowthers is on his second solid-state drive, having bought an 80-gigabyte drive for his custom desktop computer in 2009 and then upgrading to a 240GB drive in February. “Replacing a hard drive with a S.S.D. is like going from driving an old VW bug to driving a Ferrari,” he said.
Hard drives are stacks of disks coated with magnetic material that rotate on a spindle like an old-fashioned L.P. record. But instead of a needle, there are little drive heads that pivot back and forth across the disks to read and write data. Solid-state drives have no moving parts so there is no waiting for disks to spin or the dither of drive heads to execute commands.
Maybe Facebook will take a weekend off from “lock-down” mode; see the post link below (and Facebook social plugin-managed comment thread therein) for more details
Some numbers today released by Experian Hitwise suggest that Google+ has already started to experience the sophomore slump. For the week ended July 23 (last week), their data says that traffic decreased 3 percent versus the previous week. It’s important to note that this data is U.S.-only, and that Google+ is still technically in limited beta (though it’s easy to get an invite now). Still, the trend is the important thing: traffic is down week to week.
Excerpt from a Hiawatha Bray review
The new MacBook Air laptop computers, though pricey, are more elegant and powerful than ever. More significant is Apple’s latest operating system upgrade, nicknamed Lion. With a new iPad-like user interface that transcends old-fashioned mouse controls, Lion might be the biggest advance in user-friendly computing since the original Mac.
Excerpt from a Larry O’Brien column; check the link below for more context-setting
Excerpt from a timely Dave Winer reality check (although I assume the Google+ team is also very focused on corporate social networking/customer community communication opportunities)
So now maybe that makes it clear why they want your real name on your Google-Plus accounts, and why they don't want to screw around with corporate presences. Not such a problem for publications like TechCrunch or Mashable, which don't move around a lot of money. But for any business like say an oil company (extreme example), they want to have all kinds of flows hooked up to your Google account.
Google plays a huge role today in defining value in Internet commerce. Google-Plus is their integrated communication system. Over time, it's going to be at the core of everything they do, from auctions, to paying for things with Android phones, to their groupon and yelp clones. They're going everywhere, and this is the system that will tie it all together. So, at the outset, of course they need real identities. That Google-Plus account you're playing with today is going to be your bank account next year.
Apparently Facebook is not inclined to give Apple 30% of its revenue from commercial activities on iOS devices
Facebook is going right after Apple's mobile web hegemony.
Major updates (and expanded regional availability) in the new iOS OneNote Mobile client; check the post link below for more details
Here are some of the new features and improvements in OneNote Mobile 1.2 for iPhone:
- Search — retrieve important information quickly within text in your notebooks, sections, and pages.
- Pin recent notes — keep your favorite notes at the top of the Recently Viewed list.
- Sync shared notebooks — sync notebooks that others have shared with you on Windows Live SkyDrive.
- Choose which notebooks sync to your phone — save bandwidth by excluding less important notebooks.
- Set the image size for photos — choose between faster syncing or higher quality images.
One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share:
Competition is the consumer’s friend
[…] The company is billing the new webpage, found at Facebook.com/business, as an “online education center” that gives directions on such things as how to set up a profile page, create targeted ads and deals, and interact with customer feedback online.
The timing of these events could certainly be coincidental, but it does look like Facebook is taking Google’s recent entry into the social networking landscape seriously — and is increasing its feature updates and user satisfaction initiatives in turn. The new competition may be stressful for Zuckerberg and company, but ultimately it’s great for consumers if both Google and Facebook continue to bring their A-games.
Check the article link below for a detailed Amazon snapshot
Three months ago, Amazon predicted that second-quarter profits might fall by as much as two-thirds. But the company is apparently selling so many things to so many people that it can make sizable investments and barely feel the pain.
In after-hours trading, investors celebrated by pushing the stock up $13.57, to $227.75. Amazon shares have quadrupled in recent years.
The Seattle-based company is also expected to follow the success of its Kindle e-reader by introducing a multipurpose tablet this fall. The tablet will allow users to read the electronic books they bought from Amazon, listen to the music they bought from Amazon and watch video they bought from Amazon, all on one device.
Signs of the times
President Obama made the appeal in a prime time address to the nation from the White House last night, and it appears that the American people listened. The Washington Post reports that the telephone switchboard at the Capitol is being flooded with calls. And there are reports that the Web servers for certain members of Congress have crashed under a surge in traffic.
Over the last year, Samsung is the biggest share winner
“Apple, they are going to get another boost in momentum here when the release the iPhone 5,” Builta said in a phone interview, adding that HTC and Samsung are also building on their strong positions. Android, as a whole, Builta said, should be the dominant operating system through 2016, thanks to its widespread adoption by multiple phone makers.
The shares rose $4.91 to $403.41 yesterday.
The shares are up from a split-adjusted $5.48 on Sept. 16, 1997, the day Jobs returned after his 1985 ouster.
Check the article link below for more details and examples
Now historians have a new tool that can help. Advanced technology similar to Google Earth, MapQuest and the GPS systems used in millions of cars has made it possible to recreate a vanished landscape. This new generation of digital maps has given rise to an academic field known as spatial humanities. Historians, literary theorists, archaeologists and others are using Geographic Information Systems — software that displays and analyzes information related to a physical location — to re-examine real and fictional places like the villages around Salem, Mass., at the time of the witch trials; the Dust Bowl region devastated during the Great Depression; and the Eastcheap taverns where Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Prince Hal caroused.
Check the post link below for more context-setting
It's this one, from yesterday's New York Times. Click for a more detailed view, though it's pretty clear as is.
Another Google+ data point
The content being created and shared on Google+ is quite good. So much so that many posts that have originated here have been featured as leading articles on Techmeme, the much-watched technology news curator led by +Gabe Rivera. While Gabe and team have had Twitter activity play a role in the site as well, no other social network (Facebook, FriendFeed, Google Buzz, etc.) has previously gotten this level of visibility.
Google Plussers +Paul Allen and +Danny Sullivan have seen their content shared on Techmeme frequently enough that both are listed on the Techmeme leaderboard, which tracks the most frequently carried sources on the site over the last 30 days.
Final paragraphs of an Apple App Store reality check
So who wins? Amazon wins — because it has one web store where you can buy all your newspaper and magazine subscriptions and your books. Flipboard wins — because it can handle all of the revenue and advertising deals on the back end, where the customer doesn’t have to worry about them, and show readers high-quality content from magazines and the web. Google wins, maybe — if it can get anyone interested in OnePass and/or sell content to its Android base the way Apple can to its own.
Anyone wins who can provide a unified portal for both customers and publishers to manage content for tablets and crucially, a great experience for readers. Apple may own the app store and the hardware, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only game in town.
Sign of the social scam times
The article said anybody can use the same template application to create a Facebook thread in minutes. In fact, another scam based on the news was circulating last week, this one following the Norway attacks. Facebook was able to clean those out quickly, only to have the Winehouse scam replace it.
Bottom line: When breaking news hits, only click on news sources coming from URLs you know and trust.
Check the article link below for a stark RIM snapshot
As it struggles with the declining popularity of the BlackBerry line of smartphones, Research In Motion said on Monday that it would begin laying off about 2,000 employees, 10.5 percent of its work force, this week.
While the company had previously announced that it planned to cut employees, the number of jobs lost was higher than some analysts expected, perhaps suggesting that the company’s situation was deteriorating more rapidly than earlier thought.
See the full post for 6 additional template steps
Want to write the next Digits post on Google+? Here’s the template.
Step 1: Note the controversy du jour Here we go again. Google+ is in the midst of another spat with a core of dedicated users.
Over the past week, the unhappy mutterings that initially greeted Google’s social network’s requirement that members use their real names escalated into a roar after the Google+ team removed a number of high profile members, such as William Shatner.
I’d rather buy Amazon books via the Amazon Web site and have them sent to my iPad than support Apple’s monopolistic business practices in this context, and I look forward to seeing app innovation on the expected Amazon tablet/slate that won’t be possible (or at least economically prudent) on iOS devices
Amazon today bowed to Apple's newest App Store rules, and removed a link in its iPhone and iPad Kindle apps that took customers directly to its online store.
The move was required to comply with new rules designed to block developers from evading the 30% cut that Apple takes from in-app purchases.
On Monday, Google also complied with Apple's new rules when it re-released Google Books -- which had been yanked from the App Store -- minus an in-app purchasing button.
Check the post link below for speculation about Google Books being pulled for violating the Apple App Store policy
The WSJ is reporting that Apple is laying down the law on apps that try to link externally to other payment systems in the App Store. The WSJ’s own app and Kobo, another eBookseller were both forced to remove external links to payment stems from within their apps.
In a pair of moves that suggest Apple Inc. is enforcing rules for selling content on its devices, Kobo Inc., the Canadian e-book retailer, and The Wall Street Journal said Sunday they will no longer sell content directly to customers through their apps for Apple devices.
Excerpt from a think-different Bing perspective
Microsoft needs to concentrate on a different kind of search: finding a buyer for Bing, its online search business. Bing is the industry’s distant No. 2 after Google. It has become a distraction for the software giant — one that costs shareholders dearly. The division that houses Bing lost $2.6 billion in the latest fiscal year. Facebook, or even Apple, might make a better home for Bing. A sale would be a boon for Microsoft’s investors.
Interesting to consider how OpenSocial has since become a key part of the social business strategies of vendors including IBM and Jive
This question was recently posed on Quora: What specific actions led to the massive rift between Facebook and Google? No less than Adam D’Angelo, the co-founder of Quora and very early Facebook employee, chimed in.
“To me, the biggest increase in tension was Google’s launch of OpenSocial in 2007. After seeing the success of Facebook Platform, Google went and got all the other social networks committed to OpenSocial under NDA without telling Facebook, then broke the news to Facebook and tried to force them to participate,” D’Angelo writes, pointing to this TechCrunch post from the time.
A sign of the tablet times
When people feel like shopping, they are increasingly pulling out iPads and other tablets, so much so that shopping on tablets could someday outpace shopping on smartphones and even computers.
That is the conclusion of a report by Forrester Research that is to be published Monday, based on a joint survey with Bizrate Insights. Even though just 9 percent of shoppers own tablets, sales from tablets already account for 20 percent of mobile e-commerce sales, the report said, and 60 percent of tablet owners have used them to shop.
A truth maintenance/revisionist history case study
In the midst of its nasty legal battle with Google, Oracle seems to have resorted to a bit of Web site scrubbing.
The database software giant is suing Google for allegedly infringing on its Java patents in theAndroid mobile operating system. Now, quietly, Oracle has removed all the blog posts of former Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz from its Web site, including one embarrassing one that praised Google's use of Java in Android. Oracle acquired Sun and its Java programming language in January 2010.
In November 2007, when Google launched Android, Schwartz, a prolific blogger, praised Google's use of Java in a blog post titled "Congratulations Google, Red Hat and the Java Community!"
A DPLA update
Now, however, a competitor may be emerging. Last year, Robert Darnton, a cultural historian and director of Harvard University’s library system, began to raise the prospect of creating a public digital library. This library would include the digitized collections of the country’s great research institutions, but it would also bring in other media - video, music, film - as well as the collection of Web pages maintained by the Internet Archive.
Like Google Books, it would have as its goal the eventual digitization of human culture, preserving the works of the world’s authors, scholars, artists, and entertainers and making them widely available. Unlike Google Books, however, this library would not be operated by a for-profit company. It would be accessible to any person, in any place, at any time, at no cost.
AT Apple, one is the magic number.
One person is the Decider for final design choices. Not focus groups. Not data crunchers. Not committee consensus-builders. The decisions reflect the sensibility of just one person: Steven P. Jobs, the C.E.O.
By contrast, Google has followed the conventional approach, with lots of people playing a role. That group prefers to rely on experimental data, not designers, to guide its decisions.
Check the article link below for more book publishing market dynamics
The effect can clearly be seen in the latest sales figures released by the Association of American Publishers (via GalleyCat). In the first half of 2011, e-book revenues rose 160 per cent to $390m while adult hardback revenues fell 23 per cent to $386m.
As my colleague Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson wrote in April, e-book sales briefly overtook those of adult paperbacks in February but it was an unusual month. Adult paperback sales outstripped e-books in the first half as a whole, falling 18 per cent to $473m.
A single-instance category?
But Apple has become so dominant that is becoming more a threat—rather than a sentiment booster—to the rest of the technology sector. That isn't to say investors should ignore other tech players—they just aren't as likely to see the same kind of upside that Apple enjoys.
To be sure, plenty of companies, such as Qualcomm and Arm Holdings, ride the Apple coattails. But that can be a dangerous game. Apple has become a sort of Wal-Mart of techland, able to drive tough bargains with suppliers as it builds dominant positions in key device markets. One of its advantages is delivering sexy products at price points that don't break the bank. And gadgets tend to get cheaper over time, which means Apple will have to squeeze suppliers more if it wants to retain its profits.
Perhaps anticipating regulated-monopolist mode
Google Inc. has made changes to the way its search engine displays information about local businesses, a move that follows the disclosure of a U.S. antitrust investigation of its business practices.
The company said it removed snippets of customer reviews that were taken from other Web firms for its Google "Places" service, which has millions of pages for local businesses. Google's practices have drawn fire from some of those Web companies, and is believed to be among the issues the Federal Trade Commission is investigating.
Check the link below for an iPad economics case study
While Apple started selling iPads to the public only 15 months ago, the 1.5-pound tablet computers seem well on their way toward ubiquity. This year, Alaska Airlines began issuing them to pilots to replace the 25 pounds of paper flight manuals they were required to carry on flights. Now, Cornelius, N.C., with a population of about 25,000, has stopped printing meeting agenda packages for town commissioners and has given them iPads instead. Anthony Roberts, the town manager (with Bence Hoyle, the police chief), discusses.
Apparently Eric Schmidt, who previously warned about the dangers of facial recognition technology, didn’t get the memo
The company, called Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, or PittPatt, is run by three “image analysis” and “pattern recognition” specialists with PhD’s from Carnegie Mellon University, according to its site. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
A statement on PittPatt’s site said on Friday that “computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products” at Google, including Image Search, YouTube and Picasa, “so it’s a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience. We will continue to tap the potential of computer vision in applications that range from simple photo organization to complex video and mobile applications.”
Sign of the times
Few are better positioned to see vacationers’ fear of falling out of the loop than Joe Fernandez, the chief executive and cofounder of Klout, an online firm that measures users’ influence on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. He regularly hears from people who are despondent, or even angry, that their Klout scores dropped while they took a break.
An Apple sales snapshot (via Bill Gross, who asked “ )
Excerpt from a timely Danny Sullivan Google+ reality check
The experience has led me to think that ironically, Google+ is perhaps the worse [sic] place to talk about issues with Google. The posts people seem to like are "Hey, check out today's cool logo" or nice pictures or cheerleading for Google+.
I think that's kind of sad, especially when there are so many people who actually work for Google who read what's on Google+. Today's experience has just given me a personal chilling effect that I have never, ever felt with Twitter or Facebook. And I'd have never, ever expected that to be the case with a Google social network.
Read all about it at the article link below
Circulation revenue was flat, but that number masks an interesting split. Print circulation dollars were down — the publisher didn’t disclose the size of the drop — but digital subscription dollars made up for the loss.
The Times says it now has 224,000 subscribers to the digital editions it rolled out in March; a month after launch, it said subscriptions for that service had “surpassed 100,000.” The paper also says it has 57,000 subscribers for digital subscriptions it sells via platforms like Amazon’s Kindle.
Not a lot of ambiguity; Symbian is legacy, Meego is a dead-end, and, quoting from later in the article, “volume shipments of [Nokia] Windows-based devices won't materialise until next year”
Nokia posted a large operating loss of €487m today, only its second quarterly loss in 19 years. And without the royalty settlement with Apple it would have been much worse: the settlement gifted Nokia a one-time bonus of €430m.
"Our new strategy introduced ambiguity," admitted CEO Stephen Elop. The figures tell a story of unit sales and margins both crashing dramatically.
The next competitive frontier for Facebook and Google (via ACM TechNews)…
The researchers state that it may not be obvious that animals are creating the equivalent of our human social networks however this is the precise mechanism behind swarming transition.
One of the study’s authors, Gerd Zschaler, said, “We concluded that the mechanism through which locusts agree on a direction to move together (sometimes with devastating consequences, such as locust plagues) is the same we sometimes use to decide where to live or where to go out: we let ourselves be convinced by those in our social network, often by those going in the opposite direction.”
If you see people mysteriously picking up and tilting their laptops today, this is probably the explanation (see this Google post for more details)
This Google doodle commemorating sculptor Alexander Calder is a mobile that sways when a person tilts an accelerometer-equipped laptop used to view it.
(Credit: screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)
“Group” is getting seriously overloaded in this context; shared circles will clearly be useful, but tbd which workspace (asynchronous collaboration shared space) model Google will use for Google+, with options already including Google Groups and Google Sites (both part of Google Apps)
"Fridge will be shutting down, but the core tenets will stay on in Google+," Chang said today. He said two people from the four-member Fridge team will be moving to Mountain View, Calif., to join the Google+ team.
Groups for Google+ have actually been a part of the plan for a while, said a person familiar with Google's product development. Internally at least, groups for Google+ have been known as "shared circles."
Maybe they should sue…
The Winklevosses are taking their grievances over a public tongue lashing from Larry Summers to Harvard University President Drew Faust.
In a letter to Faust that lashes back at Summers, the Winklevosses and their partner, Divya Narendra, asked Faust to address Summers' use of derogatory language to characterize them. They contend that kind of remark about former students from a faculty member is an "unprecedented betrayal."
Some Good data points
The iPad represented more than 95% of tablet activations Good Technology made for corporate clients during Q2 2011, the company said. During this period, Android tablet activations declined slightly to 3.1%.
The number of iPad activations in Q2 actually exceeded the number of Android phone and tablet activations combined, among Good's clients. When the comparison is just between the iPhone and Android phones, Good Technology saw 66% iPhone activations compared to 33% Android phone activations.
I’m guessing Disney’s largest single shareholder and board member (Steve Jobs) might vote for the deal
Apple, the world’s second-most-valuable company, is in early talks that may lead to an offer for Hulu, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Hulu would give Apple a new subscription service and represent a possible challenge to Netflix Inc. Hulu’s media- company owners, Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal, are offering suitors a five-year extension of program rights, including two years of exclusive access, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week.
Sign of the social times
Here’s the tactful workaround: Create a Google+ circle of people you don’t want to snub, but don’t want to share your life with, either. You can call it anything you want—Frenemies, for example—since Google+ doesn’t expose the names of your circles to others. When an annoying semi-friend adds you on Google+, quickly add them to your Frenemies circle. They’ll get a notice that you’ve added them to a circle. Hurray! They’ll even show up on your profile page as one of the people in your circles. By the time they figure out that they never see a single post from you, maybe they’ll be mature enough to handle it.
A snapshot from a controversial case
“If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified,’’ Maxwell wrote on the Pirate Bay website. “It will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.’’
Somebody in Microsoft PR has a sharp sense of humor (based on the press release title); check the link below for product details
Microsoft and LucasArts unveiled a limited edition Star Wars-themed Xbox 360 bundle to celebrate the release of “Kinect Star Wars.”
The Droids You’re Looking For: Xbox 360 Limited Edition ‘Kinect Star Wars’ Bundle Announced: Microsoft and LucasArts unveiled a limited edition Star Wars-themed Xbox 360 bundle to celebrate the release of “Kinect Star Wars.”
Although it’s important to remember that Google+ is a work in progress (as is Facebook), I agree with many points in the post excerpted and linked below. Overall, I think Google+, for the foreseeable future, will be, to Facebook in social networking, what Bing is to Google search: a strong but distant #2 player that inspires the market leader to accelerate its evolution.
My larger conclusion, though, is that Google didn’t fundamentally fix any of the major problems of the Facebook experience. And that was the point of the endeavor: beat Facebook. Out-innovate Facebook. Take users away from Facebook. But in the end, the innovations in Google+ are mostly helpful to tech insiders and experts – the exact people, not coincidentally, who are praising the service so strongly right now. Once that initial excitement from the A-list wears off, Google+ will feel, to most users, similar to Facebook.
New social networking math?
People rushed to sign up for Google's new social networking service, but they're taking their time returning to the site.
That's the read by Experian Hitwise, which released a report saying Google+ drew 1.8 million total visits last week. More than 10 million people registered for the service after it launched in a limited test starting June 28.
"Everyone was clamoring to get the invites, maybe they're not returning back," said Experian Hitwise spokesman Matt Tatham.
Analysis of recent developments in the Oracle/Google Java lawsuit (via Techmeme). I assume Oracle still wants Java to thrive, and that it will eventually settle; perhaps it will be able to recoup its entire Sun Microsystems acquisition expense through this type of intellectual property licensing deal
Before I start my more detailed analysis of that update on the ongoing reexaminations, let me quote and comment on the two most interesting tidbits from the filing:
The biggest news is that Google, which has so far dismissed Oracle's assertions as if they had no merit whatsoever, has for the first time indicated in public (i.e., in a public court filing) its willingness to settle this case with Oracle. In a fundamental departure from the positions it previously articulated in its public filings and its public statements, Google clearly blinks. Here's the sentence I mean -- it makes references to Google's proposal to require Oracle to narrow the case for the sake of efficiency (unless it's stayed, which Google would prefer):
"Such a narrowed case will also eliminate the need for those efforts specifically directed at the claims rejected through reexamination, including motion practice, expert reports, and other trial preparation, as well as make it more likely that the parties could reach an informal resolution of the matter."
More Twitter transitions – I suspect those who cash out in this phase may be getting peak value
In a move reminiscent of one done by Facebook in 2009, Twitter is close to completing an $800 million funding deal that will include a second part in which around $400 million of the total will be used to cash out current investors and also employees.
Check the article link below for more details
Breaking news out of Twitter this afternoon, four key product managers have just been let go, we’ve learned. The move was led by Jack Dorsey and will see key product guys Kevin Cheng, Josh Elman, and two others we’ve yet to confirm, leave the company.
This move is said to be led by Dorsey as a final measure to remove those still closely affiliated with the old Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jason Goldman regime. Those three, of course, all left Twitter in recent months and just re-launched the Obvious startup incubator where Twitter was originally born.
More fun Apple stats; also see Apple and Its Cash Hoard (NYT)
Apple Inc. has built up a $76.2 billion cash hoard. Now the question is what the company intends to do with the money pile.
On Tuesday, the Cupertino, Calif., company disclosed cash, including short-term and long-term marketable securities, for the quarter ended June 25 increased 15.8% since March to $76.2 billion. That's more than the gross domestic product of 126 countries, including nations such as Ecuador, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica, according to data from the World Bank.
A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.
Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.
Another take on Lion
In Mac OS X 10.7, known as Lion, Apple went with the “shake things up” philosophy. It follows an old Apple pattern of embracing what’s cool and progressive, and ruthlessly jettisoning what it considers antiquated. That’s great if you love stuff that’s cool and progressive, and not so great if you hate people moving your cheese.
The final good news, though, is that you can ignore all of this. If you prefer the status quo, you don’t ever have to put an app into full-screen mode, or use a touch gesture, or open apps from the Launchpad. You can even turn off that reversed-scrolling-direction thing. Just this once, Apple isn’t dictating the way you have to do things.
Excerpt from a very positive Lion review
Lion is a giant step in the merger of the personal computer and post-PC devices like tablets and smartphones. It demotes the venerable scroll bar at the side of windows and documents, relying primarily on direct manipulation of documents and lists. It eliminates the need to save your work, automatically saving every version of every document. It resumes programs right where you left off. It can display programs, or an array of all your app icons, in multiple full screens you simply swipe through. And it elevates the role of multitouch gestures and adds new ones.
Think different – and get all of your music from iTunes, of course
With the launch of the new Mac minis this morning, Apple declared the optical disc obsolete.
“Mac mini is designed without an optical disc drive,” the company said in the device’s promotional materials. “Because these days, you don’t need one.”
From the irrational exuberance zone
Investors set aside housing market doldrums and rushed to grab shares of real estate website Zillow yesterday, valuing the company at as much as $1.6 billion.
Zillow Inc., which has never made a profit, is yet another beneficiary of strong investor demand for the latest crop of Internet stocks.
Final paragraphs of a Hiawatha Bray review
Spotify isn’t the game-changer it would have been a few years ago. Today, there are online music options aplenty. Google has launched a new service to let users upload music they’ve already purchased, then listen to it on any Internet-connected device. Apple Inc. is set to add a similar feature to its iCloud service later this year. Amazon.com has done the same, and just announced a tempting new offer: unlimited music storage for $20 a year. Upload your entire music collection, and Amazon will play it back for you.
But with Spotify, you can listen to millions of songs without owning them, and pay little or nothing for the privilege. It’s an excellent choice for people who’d rather listen to music than steal it.
The rest of the story…
Well, here's Summers on the Winklevii: "One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole."
In case you were still wondering whether Summers was suggesting that the Winklevii fall into this latter category, please allow me to quote him again: "This was the latter case. Rarely have I encountered such swagger, and I tried to respond in kind."
There’s an implicit and fundamental assertion in this Google positioning, insinuating that Facebook will somehow not be sufficiently open/fair/etc. with identity, authentication, authorization, ranking, etc. services, and I’m not seeing evidence to support that assertion. While Eric Schmidt et al would like Facebook to make its full social graph accessible as a public service, for example, I think Facebook is right to assume people are, by default, unwilling to share their social networks outside of Facebook, at this point.
"Fundamentally, what Facebook has done is built a way to figure out who people are. That system is missing in the internet as a whole. Google should have worked on this earlier," Schmidt, now the executive chairman of Google, said in an interview with CNN.
"I think that's the area where I would have put more resources, developing these identity services and ranking systems that go along with that. That would have made a big difference for the internet as a whole."
Playing strategic games; don’t bother looking for the currently-popular Zynga games on Google+ anytime soon, for example
There are a couple things to take away from this:
- Facebook basically owns Zynga. We knew that Zynga had to share virtual goods revenue and spend advertising on Facebook, but this goes beyond a tax. This is control. Facebook decides what games Zynga can launch, and when, and how successful these games will be.
- The Facebook Platform is not a level playing field at all.
Still waiting for the iPad-optimized version
The most talked-about new social network, Google+, is now available on the iPhone.
The free app, which Google’s Vice President of Social Vic Gundotra announced on his own account earlier today, comes just a few days after Google reported that it has more than 10 million users on its new network.
And the app promises much of the same functionality as the PC version of Google+. It allows for users to manage Circles, the core functionality in which users can sort people by shared interests, as well as Stream, Google+’s ever-flowing collection of comments status updates, photos and videos from a member’s network.
Malware gone (via) Google; see the full post (and/or this WSJ article) for details
As we work to protect our users and their information, we sometimes discover unusual patterns of activity. Recently, we found some unusual search traffic while performing routine maintenance on one of our data centers. After collaborating with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic, we determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected with a particular strain of malicious software, or “malware.” As a result of this discovery, today some people will see a prominent notification at the top of their Google web search results:
A Google investment and feeder system
Today, 10 percent of venture capital dollars comes from corporations, nearing the previous bubble-era high of 15 percent in 2000. Facebook, Zynga and Amazon.com are investing in social media start-ups. AOL Ventures restarted last year after three previous efforts, and Intel Capital expects to invest more this year than the $327 million it invested last year.
Google Ventures says it has invested as much money in the first half of this year as in all of last, and Larry Page, the company’s co-founder, who became chief executive this spring, has promised to keep the coffers wide open.
Check the article link below for more details on Apple’s (latest…) blow-out quarter
As one example of its success, Apple turned its tablet into a $6 billion business in the quarter. That is twice as big as Dell’s entire consumer PC business.
Mac computers also showed solid gains, even as competitors struggle to sell PCs.
The results helped to lift Apple’s shares 4.5 percent in after-hours trading, to $393.81. Apple’s shares had already reached a record high in regular trading, and they are almost certain to do so again on Wednesday.
Government IT heads to the cloud
The federal government is the largest buyer of information technology in the world, spending about $80 billion a year. The Obama administration, in plans detailed Wednesday, is taking aim at some of that by closing 800 of its sprawling collection of 2,000 data centers. The savings, analysts say, will translate into billions of dollars a year and acres of freed-up real estate.
A significant Acquia milestone
Acquia, which helps companies build community sites using the open-source content management system Drupal, has raised $15 million in Series D funding from Tenaya Capital, Northbridge Venture partners and Sigma Partners.
Burlington, Mass.-based Acquia recently helped launch Twitter’s new developer community site, which is powered by the downloadable version of its product. Other customers use a hosted version and/or pay for support services.
Final paragraph of a Spotify review
If you tend to choose music according to what your friends like and a lot of your friends use Spotify, you won’t likely have a problem with discovering music in Spotify. Otherwise, you may be frustrated by the relatively limited What’s New music selection. Overall, using this service feels a bit like someone opened a vast library of digital music and made it free for unlimited listening—at least for now.
It’s an outlier scenario, but I continue to believe an Amazon/Google deal for books, Android devices, and other domains would be very timely
US District Court Judge Denny Chin set a new hearing date for September 15 in protracted negotiations which, if unsuccessful, will leave it to him to decide how to proceed.
"We have been working closely with the authors and publishers to explore a number of options in response to the court's decision," Google said in response to an AFP inquiry.
"Regardless of the outcome, we'll continue to make books discoverable and useful through Google Books and Google eBooks," the California Internet firm added.
Excerpt from more Amazon Android tablet analysis/speculation
That Amazon library gives it a leg up on most other tablet makers hoping to take on Apple. Amazon also has a strong, long-standing connection with online shoppers, which gives the company a slick way to sell both the device and associated content. The ongoing success of the Kindle has also given Amazon valuable experience in developing a content-centric device. And with a successful and visible brand in the Kindle, consumers may be more motivated to give the newcomer tablet a try.
A multifaceted music milestone
Baidu signed an agreement with a joint venture owned by Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music to distribute music through its mp3 search service.
Baidu, China's biggest search engine, will pay the owners of the music rights on a per-play and per-download basis.
China is the world's biggest internet market with close to 470 million users.
A leading candidate for this week’s truthiness award
Speaking at Google’s Mobile Revolution conference in Tokyo, the executive chairman said:
“The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding.
Because they are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits.
We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success.”
Schmidt also reiterated that Google would support HTC in its fight against Apple, noting that the search giant was confident of a win, despite declining to comment further on the matter.
Interesting smartphone times (via Techmeme)
Apple's early win against HTC has sent some Chinese phone makers running to Windows Phone 7, a source said. Mainland Chinese paper 21st Century Business Herald understood that local companies were adding or improving their support for Windows Phone and would use the new Mango build alongside or in place of Android. Huawei and ZTE were already planning to add WP7 devices, although for them it was to diversify their lines more than a defensive strategy.
On a related note, see Google Health: Dead of Neglect (Boston Globe)
Microsoft Corp. today announced that people using the Google Health service, scheduled to be discontinued Jan. 1, 2012, can easily transfer their personal health information stored in a Google Health profile to a Microsoft HealthVault account using the Direct Project messaging protocols established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. The Direct Project specifies a simple, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.
Google announced on June 24 that Google Health will be discontinued, effective Jan. 1, 2012, with records remaining available to account holders until Jan. 1, 2013.
Third-party organizations that have developed Google Health applications also are invited to migrate their solutions to the HealthVault platform. Documentation, reference materials and a Software Development Kit are available at the HealthVault Developer Center on the Microsoft Developer Network, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/healthvault, and the business development team at firstname.lastname@example.org is available to answer developers’ questions.
Microsoft Announces Simple Transfer of Health Data From Google Health Service to Microsoft HealthVault: Google Health users can send their Google Health profile directly to a HealthVault account using Direct Project messaging protocols.
Perhaps Google should pay Microsoft to expand Bing more aggressively in Europe…
It’s easy to dismiss the claims against Google as carping by rivals. But for anyone who thinks the EU investigation isn’t warranted, here are a couple of data points worth thinking about.
First, figures from Hitwise suggest Google now accounts for 92 percent of all search traffic in the U.K. That’s an all-time high for the company, signifying complete domination of the market. The figure is actually higher in some other European countries, and it’s significantly more than its North American market share. Google dominates the European market to a degree far greater than its successes at home.
Speculation about Apple’s earnings announcement later today
Apple Inc. is set to post a 69 percent jump in quarterly profit when it reports results today, after record buying of the iPad and Mac computer made up for weaker demand for its aging iPhone 4.
Profit rose to $5.5 billion in the fiscal third quarter, which ended June 25, according to the average prediction of analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Sales gained an estimated 59 percent to $25 billion.
Major changes for Cisco
The combined number of jobs leaving Cisco’s payroll through retirement, transfer to Foxconn or outright firing is 11,500. That number amounts to about 14 percent of Cisco’s total headcount of 78,000 and change. If the plan that CEO John Chambers announced during the company’s most recent earnings conference call holds true to the plan and Cisco cuts $1 billion from its annual operating costs, then the average savings works out to about $87,000 per job.
See the full article for more details on a strong IBM quarter
Shares in IBM surged in after-hours trading after the company reported quarterly results that were way ahead of the expectations of analysts. Here’s some highlights:
- Overall sales at $26.7 billion were $1 billion higher than the consensus and grew 12 percent.
- Profits were $3.7 billion or $3.09 per share, up 8 percent year-over-year.
- Mainframe revenue grew 61 percent, including an 86 percent growth rate in the MIPS business and 12 percent growth in the Power architecture business.