Google is launching a powerful update to it's search engine which uses semantic knowledge to understand entities and provide disambiguation. Google's been developing it's semantic capabilities under the hood over the last decade but with this upcoming search release it will become far more apparent to the end-user. The idea behind semantics is quite simple - rather than search for only keywords, the search engine actually understand some words so it can create context. If you search for "companies with many employees" you may find a published list which is titled "companies with over 10,000 employees", "World's 10 Biggest Employers " or some variation of that. But if the search engine could understand that Microsoft, General Electric and Boing are companies then it could look for, and possibly aggregate, quotes like "Microsoft has 93,000 employees" and understand that Microsoft is a company. In fact, it may not even be necessary to go to the source document at all - Google could just present the answer.
The Google rumor mill is speculating that "Google Drive" will launch shortly. Anticipation has been mounting for years that Google will provide a virtual cloud drive that can synchronize transparently with your local file system. Many have referred to it as a "DropBox killer" or Google needing to offer parity with Microsoft's SkyDrive, however I believe this is much larger eco-system play with important but subtle differences.
Since mid-December, retail stocks have declined as a result of weaker than expected sales. Target, Wal-Mart, BestBuy and many others failed to achieve investor hopes of a consumer adrenaline shot into an otherwise slow economic recovery. Many retailers are blaming Amazon for cutthroat pricing, economies of scale and tax free advantageous the likes of which pushed Circuit City and Borders Booksellers out of business. Retailers claimed fowl when Amazon heavily promoted a mobile app that lets consumers scan goods inside retail stores and compare prices or instantly place order on Amazon.com.
Mobile Carriers recently found themselves in hot water with a report that Carrier IQ violates user privacy. In case you haven't heard Carrier IQ is a hidden diagnostic program embedded in 40M+ mobile devices. It monitors usage, location, signal strength, etc. and regularly sends data it to the Carrier. Mobile Carriers claim it is used to improve their network but critics argue it's yet another privacy gaff. The major Carriers have given a perspective on how innocuous it is and in a rare response, Apple said it was deactivated in current devices and will soon be removed from IOS 5. Apple’s rapid apologetics is a testament that this is a controversial topic. Privacy concerns have escalated this issue to an FTC and Congressional inquiry.
Google just released Google+ pages for businesses, non-profits, and other entities to join the Google+ social explosion. This was an expected feature and personally it looks like a good first step to compete with Facebook Pages. When I created a page , I noticed something at the very bottom of the getting started screen: Google+ Direct Connect. Basically Google+ will analyze your page for relevance, popularity, etc. and if your page is deemed worthy (+1, followers, views, etc.), you will get your very own +keyword. +McDonald's +Nike,+AMA … you get the idea.
I keep hearing how users have a choice in search engines, Google is making a great search engine and shouldn’t be punished by the FTC for being so good. I keep reading that this is like the Microsoft/OEM Anti-trust case. That argument is backwards.
For over a decade a battle ensued between the Netizens who want unencumbered access to purchased music streamed to the device of their choice and the stalwart music industry who protect against piracy and profits. At times, this battle has gone extreme with billion dollar lawsuits targeting file sharing tools and teenagers having to hire lawyers. Apple has made a remarkable dent in what seemed to be an impossible impasse. Google, Amazon, and others have tried - How did Apple succeed? I have a theory. First the timing is very important. Google and Amazon threatening to bypass the Music Industry entirely. Despite trying to negotiate for years they are arguing that music files can be seen as "just bits" so they really don't need permission. This is a huge threat to the industry who want music to be seen as a license independent of the bits.
Just announced by Google are the new ChromeBooks ; Availability, pricing / specs and an innovative business model. Mobile carriers have been incredibly successful at creating an annuity by tying hardware, software and data together in a subsidized monthly package. Google appears to be replicating their success with this new offering. Available at $20 / month for students and $28 for businesses (also available for purchase) they are creating a web centric device with applications and storage living in the cloud. 3G data is optional, and if it is similar to the Cr-48 it will be a pay-as-you-go plan for $35/month 1G, $50/month 5G and $9.99 unlimited day pass. I’ve always believed that application rentals would become a growing trend - why not throw in the laptop - and eventually the dataplan. It has worked in the Ipad/Android Tablet market, let’s see how it works for netbooks.
Amazon recently announced a video streaming program with unlimited access to over 5,000 titles for $79 per year which replicates and undercuts the Netflix instant streaming model. This is in addition to a 90,000 title content arsenal already available for rental or purchase. UBS analyst Brian Pitz recently downgraded the stock to neutral with a $180 price target (down from $195) on concerns that the streaming service will raise costs, and hit margins. Pitz is concerned that Free Streaming wasn't part of the original guidance and content, distribution and technology costs will have material impact on margins. Since that report, Amazon stock has dropped nearly 10%.
The race is on… the latest statistic to hit the headlines is that Google Andriod has surpassed iphone sales for the first time. Well, its not exactly apples to apples (so to speak) because Google is running across so many different phones and let's face it, people are buying the phone, not the OS… not exactly a fair comparison. On the other hand, Apple does have a lot to worry about :