By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
SYDNEY – Australia’s highest court on Wednesday threw out a ruling against Google Inc….
SYDNEY – Australia’s highest court on Wednesday threw out a ruling against Google Inc. that had found the Internet giant guilty of breaching trade law by hosting deceptive advertisements.
The High Court’s decision overturned a federal court ruling from April that Google had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct with four ads that appeared on its Google Australia website. The advertisers used the names of competitors as keywords to trigger their own ads appearing.
The federal court ruled this was likely to mislead people searching for information about those competitors, and therefore violated Australia’s Trade Practices Act, which bars corporations from engaging in deceptive conduct. Google argued that it was not responsible for the content of the ads, and therefore couldn’t be found to have violated the act.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – Google eked out slightly higher earnings in the fourth quarter, despite…
SAN FRANCISCO – Google eked out slightly higher earnings in the fourth quarter, despite a financial drag caused by the Internet search leader’s expansion into device manufacturing and a decline in digital ad prices as more people gaze into the smaller screens of smartphones.
The results announced Tuesday pleased investors, helping to lift Google’s stock by 5 per cent in extended trading.
More advertising poured into Google during the holiday shopping season, fueling a moneymaking machine that has steadily churned out higher profits since the company went public in 2004. Google’s fourth-quarter ad revenue totalled $12.1 billion, a 19 per cent increase from the previous year.
Some of that money, though, has been shifting away from personal computers as advertisers try to connect with an expanding audience that relies on smartphones and tablet computers to reach Google’s search engine, email and other online services. By some estimates, about one-fourth of the clicks on Google’s search ads are now coming from mobile devices.
So far, advertisers have been unwilling to pay as much money to market their wares on mobile devices, largely because the smaller screens leave less room for commercial links and other marketing messages. The trend is one of the reasons that the average price for the ads that Google shows next to its search results has fallen from the previous year in five consecutive quarters, including the final three months of last year.
In a positive sign, though, Google’s average ad prices in the most recent quarter dropped by just 6 per cent from the same period in 2011. That’s the smallest decline during the pricing downturn, raising hopes that Google may be starting to solve the pricing problems posed by the growing usage of mobile devices.
In a conference call Tuesday, Google CEO Larry Page predicted ad prices will gradually rise as the devices become even more sophisticated to unleash new ways to reach potential customers at the times they are most likely to buy something.
“In today’s multi-screen world, the opportunities are endless,” Page said.
Google earned nearly $2.9 billion, or $8.62 per share, during the fourth quarter. That compared to net income of $2.7 billion, or $8.22 per share, at the same time last year.
If not for the costs of employee stock compensation and certain other accounting items, Google said it would have earned $10.65 per share. On that basis, Google exceeded the average earnings estimate of $10.54 among analysts surveyed by FactSet.
It proved to be a difficult quarter to decipher because of an accounting quirk and the additions of new business lines that muddied the comparisons with the previous year.
For instance, Google Inc. didn’t own Motorola Mobility in 2011, having completed its $12.4 billion acquisition of the troubled handset maker eight months ago. What’s more, the Google is bringing in more revenue from tablet computers, which it began selling under the Nexus brand during the final half of last year.
Things were further complicated by Google’s recent agreement to sell a part of the Motorola Mobility division that makes cable TV boxes. That division is now accounted for as a discontinued operation whose revenue wasn’t booked in the latest quarter, even though it will remain a part of Google until the $2.35 billion sale is completed later this year.
Under that equation, revenue surged 36 per cent from the previous year to $14.4 billion.
After subtracting advertising expenses, Google’s revenue totalled $11.3 billion. That figure was well below the average analyst estimate of $12.1 billion, according to FactSet.
But many of the analyst forecasts included revenue from Motorola Mobility’s set-top division, which Google excluded from its breakdown. Had the set-top division been included in Google’s accounting, the company’s net revenue would have matched analyst estimates.
The performance boosted Google’s stock by $35.33 to $738.20 in Tuesday’s extended trading.
Google would be doing even better if not for problems at Motorola Mobility, a cellphone pioneer that has been struggling since Apple revolutionized the industry with the release of the iPhone in 2007.
Motorola Mobility suffered an operating loss of $353 million on revenue of $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter
Google has been able to offset the slump in its search advertising prices by selling more video advertising on its YouTube subsidiary and other more graphical forms of marketing. The number of clicks on Google ads has still been rising, too. That’s important because the company typically gets paid by the click. In the fourth quarter, Google’s total ad clicks rose 24 per cent from the previous year.
To gain a foothold in the mobile market, Google bakes its services into its Android software, an operating system that it gives away to makers of smartphones and tablets.
Android is now powers more than 500 million mobile devices worldwide, giving it a wide lead over Apple’s software for iPhones and iPads. Through September, Apple had shipped about 370 million iPhones and iPads. Apple Inc., which has morphed from a Google ally to bigger rival in the past five years, is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter results after the stock market closes Wednesday.
Google, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., didn’t update how many more Android devices were activated in the fourth quarter..
By Peter Nowak - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:38 PM - 0 Comments
It’s not much of a stretch to predict that we’re going to see some new video game consoles this year. It might be a little surprising, however, to suggest that Microsoft is going to jump to a commanding lead in this ongoing console war and that the battle may go from the current three players to four–at least for the time being.
The writing on the wall couldn’t be more obvious in regards to new consoles, at least from Microsoft and likely from Sony as well. Slowing console sales are one indicator, but perhaps the most telling hint is Microsoft’s first-party release schedule.
The company has typically rotated its two biggest franchises, Halo and Gears of War, over successive holiday periods, with the former coming one year and the latter the next. Yet this time around, Halo 4 saw its release this past September while Gears of War: Judgment is scheduled for a March, 2013 launch. The two biggest franchises released within months of each other? What’s going on?
By The Associated Press - Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 5:53 AM - 0 Comments
BEIJING, China – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday it’s up to North…
BEIJING, China – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday it’s up to North Korea to shed its self-imposed isolation and allow its citizens to use the Internet and connect with the outside world, or risk remaining way behind other countries.
Schmidt was returning from a private trip to North Korea with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that was not sanctioned by the U.S. government and has been criticized for appearing to boost Pyongyang’s profile after its widely condemned rocket launch put a satellite into space last month.
“As the world is becoming increasingly connected,” Schmidt said, “their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear.”
By The Associated Press - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 5:19 AM - 0 Comments
Eric Schmidt will be travelling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month.
SEOUL, South Korea – Google’s executive chairman is preparing to travel to one of the last frontiers of cyberspace: North Korea.
Eric Schmidt will be travelling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, according to two people familiar with the group’s plans who asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public.
The trip would be the first by a top executive from U.S.-based Google, the world’s largest Internet search provider, to a country considered to have the most restrictive Internet policies on the planet.
North Korea is in the midst of what leader Kim Jong Un called a modern-day “industrial revolution” in a New Year’s Day speech to the nation Monday. He is pushing science and technology as a path to economic development for the impoverished country, aiming for computers in every school and digitized machinery in every factory.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 5:21 AM - 0 Comments
BRUSSELS – Google says it has reached an agreement over copyright issues with a…
BRUSSELS – Google says it has reached an agreement over copyright issues with a group of French-language Belgian newspapers, ending a six-year dispute.
In a joint statement Thursday, Google and groups representing the papers and authors announced they had reached agreements to end legal proceedings and instead build business partnerships.
The newspapers filed a lawsuit against Google in 2006 claiming the web giant had no right to post links to their articles on Google News without payment or permission. They won, and a Belgian appeals court upheld their victory in May.
Google then blocked the papers from its web search results, but later relented, saying it had obtained the papers’ legal consent to post their articles.
The parties also agreed to promote each other’s services by placing Google advertising in publishers’ media.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Yahoo!’s new CEO is one to watch in 2013
When Yahoo! Inc. named Marissa Mayer as president and CEO in July 2012, it was a very big deal, corporately speaking. Yahoo! poaching the 37-year-old Google executive from its archrival was a major coup; in a press release, the company crowed that Mayer had helped launch “more than 100 features and products including image, book, and product search; toolbar; iGoogle; Google News; and Gmail—creating much of the look and feel of the Google user experience.” Possessed of a smart and sunny demeanour, Mayer was once a visible public face of the search-engine behemoth, famously interviewing Lady Gaga for a “Google goes Gaga” YouTube video in 2011. Much was riding on her ability to turn around the foundering $5-billion tech giant. News of her appointment, which makes her the youngest Fortune 500 company CEO, boded well: Yahoo! stock price rose 2.7 per cent.
Yet what occupied headlines was not Mayer’s stellar professional accomplishments, but her gynecological ones. When she was appointed, the CEO was six months pregnant with her first child (with husband Zack Bogue, a lawyer). When she returned to the executive suite weeks after delivering son Macallister, an inevitable firestorm of debate ensued—one that highlighted the double standard that still applies to mothers, but not fathers, in the top echelons of business. Continue…
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:56 AM - 0 Comments
BERLIN – Google is launching a new campaign in Germany to protest against possible…
BERLIN – Google is launching a new campaign in Germany to protest against possible copyright restrictions being discussed in the country’s Parliament.
The “Defend Your Web” campaign started Tuesday seeks to mobilize Google users against plans to introduce a so-called “Google Tax”. The levy, being pushed by publishers, would require search engines to pay each time they link to media content like newspaper articles or photographs.
In a short online video, Google warns “for more than 10 years you’ve been able to find what you are looking for — a planned law would change that.” It also provides written information and urges people to sign an online petition.
Google also plans newspaper and magazine ads.
By The Associated Press - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Google has bought an operator of Wi-Fi hotspots in high-traffic…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Google has bought an operator of Wi-Fi hotspots in high-traffic locations such as airports, hotels and fast-food restaurants.
Google Inc. is paying $400 million for ICOA Inc., a Warwick, Rhode Island, company, as part of the search company’s efforts to diversify its portfolio.
ICOA owns or operates Wi-Fi wireless access services in 40 states. It also sells technology for others to run similar Wi-Fi networks under their own brands.
It’s not Google’s first venture into Internet access.
The Mountain View, California, company is building an ultra-fast wired Internet service in Kansas City, primarily to showcase for what’s technically possible and to test new ways to use the Internet.
Shares of Google fell $6.07, or 0.9 per cent, to $661.90 in morning trading Monday.
By The Associated Press - Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:30 AM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – A proposed $22.5 million fine to penalize Google for an alleged…
SAN FRANCISCO – A proposed $22.5 million fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach is on the verge of winning court approval, despite a consumer rights group’s cry for tougher punishment.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told lawyers during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco that she is likely to approve the fine, which is the cornerstone of a settlement reached three months ago between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc.
The rebuke is meant to resolve allegations that Google duped millions of Web surfers who use the Safari browser into believing their online activities couldn’t be tracked by the company as long as they didn’t change the browser’s privacy settings. That assurance was posted on Google’s website earlier this year, even as the Internet search leader was inserting computer coding that bypassed Safari’s automatic settings and enabled the company to peer into the online lives of the browser’s users.
The FTC concluded that the contradiction between Google’s stealth tracking and its privacy assurances to Safari users violated a vow the company made in another settlement with the agency last year. Google had promised not to mislead people about its privacy practices.
While FTC hailed its actions as proof of its resolve to protect the public interest, a consumer rights group attacked the settlement as an example of ineffectual regulation. The group, Consumer Watchdog, is trying to bring more attention to the issue as the FTC wraps up a separate investigation into complaints that Google has been stifling competition and raising online ad prices by highlight its own services in its influential search engine.
Consumer Watchdog attorney Gary Reback is hoping to pressure the FTC to take Google to court in the antitrust investigation instead of negotiating a settlement known as a consent decree, as it did in the Safari privacy flap.
A consent decree “is not a good way to police Google,” Reback said in an interview after Friday’s court hearing. Reback also is representing some of the Internet companies that have filed complaints against Google in the antitrust case.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has said he expects regulators to decide whether to sue, settle or simply close the antitrust investigation by the end of this year.
In the Safari case, Consumer Watchdog argued the fine amounts to loose change for a company like Google, which generates about $22.5 million in revenue every four hours. In legal briefs, Reback asserted that Google should be fined at least $3 billion because of the number of people potentially affected. The FTC estimates about 190 million people use Safari to browse the Web on computers, smartphones and tablets made by Google’s rival Apple Inc. But the agency said the impact of Google’s breach was relatively small, estimating the company picked up about $4 million in revenue from the intrusion.
The FTC considers the fine to be a milestone because it’s the largest the agency has ever levied for a civil violation. The FTC estimates Google generated no more than $4 million in revenue from its alleged misconduct.
Consumer Watchdog also contended the settlement lacked teeth because it allowed Google to deny any liability for its conduct. That echoed a concern of FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, who voted against the Google settlement. Leibowitz and three other FTC commissioners voted for the settlement anyway because they believe it will deter similar breaches in the future.
Google insists it didn’t intentionally bypass Safari’s default settings.
Finally, Consumer Watchdog blasted the settlement for allowing Google to retain the data that it got from Safari users without authorization.
Illston brushed off the objections about the magnitude of the fine and Google’s denial of liability. She did probe deeper into Google’s retention of the Safari browser data, raising the possibility that she could require revisions to that portion of the settlement. Illston didn’t say when she intended to issue a ruling.
Analyzing Web surfing data helps Google gain a better understanding of people’s preferences so it can customize online ads to appeal to different tastes.
But Google lawyer David Kramer told Illston that the data vacuumed from the unauthorized snooping on Safari browsers would be too stale to be of practical use to the company. He also maintained that much of the data transmitted to Google would have been sent even without the secret insertion of additional computer coding.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM - 0 Comments
If the topic of patent law fails to inspire much feeling in you, read Steven Levy’s exhaustive Wired feature, The Patent Problem—it will leave you apoplectic. Levy details just how far the U.S. patent system has strayed from its original purpose. Intended to incentivize invention, and included in the Constitution for that purpose, patents have mutated into anti-innovation weaponry.
The reasons are many. One is the evolution of patents into saleable assets. This was supposed to allow a poorly resourced inventor to sell his concept to a company with the cash to pull the trigger on it. Instead, companies began stockpiling patents without using them, in order to keep ideas away from rivals or to demand licensing fees from anyone who actually put the ideas on the market. Another huge problem was the Patent Office’s inability to evolve from the mechanical age to the digital age, which led them to rubber-stamping hundreds of thousands of software patents for generic or general concepts. Then came the birth of the Patent Troll, who banks on this incompetence by securing intentionally vague patents they never intend to use for anything but extortion (Levy focuses on an “inventor” who claims his patent covers every eCommerce site on the Web, whose legal threats have generated millions in settlements.) Finally, there’s the patent arms-race between mega-corporations, a battle which sees patents not as ideas to turn into products, but as munitions in a legal arsenal. The intent was to prevent costly legal battles—you sue me, and I’ll sue you. But this pax has unravelled of late, as evidenced by a recent slew of mega-lawsuits. It’s a ludicrous waste of resources that has resulted in Apple and Google both spending more money on patents than on R&D. The result, writes Levy, is “a disastrous environment for innovation” wherein “it’s practically impossible to build anything without violating a patent…and risking a multimillion-dollar lawsuit”.
While our patent regime differs from America’s, there’s a high degree of standardization among G8 countries when it comes to intellectual property law, and Canadian inventors face the same hurdles Levy describes. Still, global awareness of (and disgust towards) the broken patent system is growing. In the U.S. this is taking the form of measured and slow-moving legislative efforts. Here in Canada, a landmark Supreme Court ruling could change everything.
By now you’ve likely heard of the decision against drug-maker Pfizer. Yes, you’ll soon be able to get cheap generic penis pills in Canada, but the implications could be far greater. Pfizer’s patent was deemed invalid because it didn’t adequately describe what Viagra is. Mention of the active chemical, Sildenafil, was buried in the patent. The Court ruled that in order to protect an invention, a patent must actually disclose what that invention is. Beyond common sense, this is so because of the “patent bargain”: an inventor tells the world how to make something in exchange for a time-limited monopoly on that invention. Pfizer may have been trying to hide their innovation, or they may have been trying to define their patent as widely as possible in order to block rivals from selling a similar product made in a different way. Whatever their motive, a bold new precedent has been set that could radically shake-up technology patents.
From now on, any patent that fails to adequately describe the invention it seeks to protect is vulnerable. That’s a threat to thousands of software patents. As lawyer Eugene Meehan, the former executive legal officer at the Supreme Court, told the Vancouver Sun, “the decision is a legal earthquake in the patent world – it’s like hurricane Sandy blew through the Patent Act.”
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 3:58 AM - 0 Comments
Google.ca celebrates launch of Canadarm.
TORONTO – The anniversary of the first launch of the Canadarm 31 years ago is being celebrated on Google.ca with a doodle.
The image on Google Canada’s home page depicts an astronaut floating in space and manipulating the Canadarm to spell out the L and E in Google.
Google’s chief doodler Ryan Germick says the suggestion for the image came from the company’s Canadian offices a few months back.
He says his team chooses from “hundreds and hundreds” of doodle ideas to work with and is on track to have completed about 300 by the end of 2012.
Germick says the Canadarm doodle took “several tens of hours” to complete.
The Canadarm had its first mission on Nov. 13, 1981 on the U.S. space shuttle Columbia.
“For doodles we really try to sort of celebrate things that are exciting to Google as a culture and we think will be exciting for our users,” says Germick.
“We’re big proponents of technology and innovation and knowing this is one of the really cool things that Canada has done for space technology we thought it would be the perfect thing to celebrate.”
The Canadarm is 15 metres long with a 33-centimetre diameter and a weight of about 410 kilograms.
The dexterous robotic arm was used to move and retrieve satellites and provide support for astronauts during spacewalks, among other tasks.
Its final mission with shuttle Endeavour ended June 1.
By Mika Rekai - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM - 0 Comments
France threatens to take the Internet search giant to court over getting rich from revenue-starved media sites
For media agencies, producing good content is expensive, and giving it away online has never made much sense as a sustainable business model. As readers have dropped print subscriptions and migrated to the web, newspapers have suffered years of plunging revenue. Many hoped the losses would be temporary as advertisers also moved online, but news sites still aren’t reaping the benefits. According to the Newspaper Association of America, in 2011, for every $25 lost in print revenue, newspapers made only $1 online.
While many news organizations, including the Globe and Mail and the Postmedia chain in Canada, have put in place online paywalls, a more radical solution is unfolding in France that could put an end, once and for all, to the industry’s crisis. French newspapers, with the help of the socialist government of François Hollande, are going after Google.
Many companies spend millions to advertise on the Internet, but instead of doing so on sites that produce content, the money largely goes to search engines (i.e. Google) and web aggregators (widely used sites that provide links to news content). Last month, leading French newspaper publishers called on the government to adopt a law that would require Google to make payments to news sites for displaying links to their content. Google, which earns $3 billion every month in ad revenue, said in a statement that it “could not accept” the move and “would be required to no longer reference French sites” as a consequence of such a law. Forcing Google to pay for linking to news content, a spokesperson says, would threaten Google’s “very existence.” Continue…
By Colin Campbell - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Google’s Chromebook release went unnoticed after poor quarterly results
Google made two big announcements last week. The one that got the most attention was its accidental release of quarterly financial results hours before markets closed, with a space for comment from CEO Larry Page reading: “Pending Larry Quote.” The less-than-stellar numbers included sent Google’s stock falling nine per cent.
Google’s other news was mostly overlooked amidst the earnings embarrassment, but is likely to have a bigger long-term impact. It released a $250 laptop, the Chromebook. The ultra-cheap computer (made by Samsung and running Google’s Chrome operating system) is described in a punk-rock-themed ad as the laptop “for everyone”—a family- and student-friendly alternative to tablets like the iPad that cost closer to $600. It’s not just hated rival Apple that Google has its sights on. The Chromebook comes out just as Microsoft is set to release a critical overhaul of Windows and its Surface tablet.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 9:39 PM - 0 Comments
RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian judge ordered the arrest of the head of…
RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian judge ordered the arrest of the head of Google’s operations in Brazil for failure to remove YouTube videos that attacked a mayoral candidate, which runs counter to the South American nation’s strict pre-vote electoral laws.
Google said in a Tuesday statement that it rejected the decision by Judge Flavio Peren of Mato Grosso do Sul state, which also included an order to remove the two videos in question and a statewide, 24-hour suspension of Google and You Tube.
Police said they had not received an order to arrest Coelho. It was not clear if any suspension of Google’s services occurred in Mato Grosso do Sul state. After hours calls to the court were not returned.
“Google is appealing the decision that ordered the removal of the YouTube video because, in being a platform, Google is not responsible for the content posted on its site,” the company said in an emailed statement from Sao Paulo.
A spokesman said the company would not make any further statement on the case.
The videos on YouTube make incendiary comments about an alleged paternity suit aimed at Alcides Bernal, who is running for mayor of the city of Campo Grande. Nationwide municipal elections will be held Oct. 7. It was not possible to reach Bernal for comment, or verify if any paternity lawsuits had been levelled against him.
Brazil’s electoral law has several restrictions on what opponents or critics can air on television and radio about candidates for office — even comedic needling of politicians is banned during electoral season. The Internet’s role in these cases, until now, was not legally explored, as the government does not license the internet and was considered by most exempt from the law.
However, candidates always have the right to contest before the nation’s electoral courts such ads, and this year more than ever they are doing so.
Google itself has faced similar cases in Brazil.
Earlier this month a judge in Parana state in southern Brazil ordered that Google pay $500,000 for each day that it balked in fulfilling an order to remove videos from YouTube that attacked a candidate.
In the northeastern state of Paraiba, a judge also ordered the imprisonment of another Google executive in Brazil earlier this month, also for not removing videos from YouTube attacking a mayoral candidate. That order was overruled by a higher court.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
There’s a war going on for control of the world, in a figurative sense. We’re not talking about nation versus nation or a clash of ideologies (okay, on that one, maybe we are). We’re talking about Google versus Apple. More specifically, the maps that each company serves up on their respective smartphones—the applications that literally guide us around the world in our daily lives.
As almost every iPhone 5 reviewer has noted, including yours truly, Apple’s new device—which goes on sale today—is amazing in almost every way, with maps being a notable exception. For reasons no one is sure of yet, Apple has ditched Google-supplied data and is instead building its app using information supplied by GPS maker TomTom and a few other sources.
So, if you buy an iPhone 5 or new iPod that runs the latest software, iOS 6, or if you download that iOS 6 onto an older iPhone, iPod or iPad, you’ll get the new maps app. If you refrain from updating to the new software, you’ll keep the older version. For how long is another unknown.
App developers have noted that the foundation of Apple’s new maps system is actually quite good, it’s just lacking in data. As I mentioned in my review, there are some glaring omissions. The maps of Toronto, for example, show streetcar stops, but some subway stations are missing. It’s also given me faulty directions and locations on several occasions. And we all know that going to the wrong place because your GPS told you to go there is just about the worst thing ever.
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The other day, a friend asked me whether he should buy the new iPhone 5. By virtue of writing about technology and gadgets for a living, it’s a question I get all the time – not necessarily about the new iPhone, but friends generally wanting advice on what smartphone they should get.
There’s never a simple answer, since every person’s needs are different. And it’s not just the device itself that matters, the carriers that offer them also factor into such a decision. My response is therefore always a flurry of questions in return: do you like physical keyboards, what kind of computer do you use, do you want to surf the web a lot, how much do you want to spend, do you travel a lot? Oh, and what are your politics? More on that last one in a second.
From there, we winnow down the options. If the buyer is on a budget, we’ll generally talk Android phones. If they don’t leave their home city much, we’ll discuss discount carriers such as Wind and Mobilicity. If a keyboard is a must, then it’s on to BlackBerry.
By LuAnn LaSalle, The Canadian Press - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 7:49 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Bell will launch a “made-in-Canada” competitor to Netflix and other big U.S. online TV and entertainment providers, CEO George Cope said Monday as part of his pitch for the company’s $3.4-billion acquisition of Astral Media.
The service would be available on demand on any device, and showcase Canadian and international movies from Astral’s pay TV services, such as HBO Canada and The Movie Network, as well as news, sports and entertainment content from Bell Media.
“(It’s) a made-in-Canada service — available in English and French everywhere we have rights — to all Canadians through the cable, satellite or IPTV provider of their choice,” Cope told a CRTC hearing into the acquisition.
More than 10 per cent of Canadians now subscribe to Netflix, which accounts for more than 11 million hours of TV viewing per week, Cope said.
“The Canadian system needs companies with the scale to compete against foreign content companies like Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon,” he said.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:50 PM - 0 Comments
Tech giants are builiding off-campus data centres for storage
From above, the warehouses look as nondescript as a Costco. But inside they house the backbones of some of today’s biggest, most important companies. As online services like cloud computing grow, and people move to store more of their lives online, the push is on to build ever more efficient and secure data centres. Firms like Facebook, Google and Apple have spurred a mini-building boom in server farms for the computers that keep their services humming.
In Prineville, Ore., Facebook recently built a 330,000 sq.-foot data centre. It uses outside air to keep computers from overheating (most centres use pricey air conditioning to regulate temperature). Next door is a smaller, 62,000 sq.-foot building dubbed “Sub-Zero.” It will house a new type of backup storage system that powers down when not in use, further cutting electricity consumption. Facebook is surprisingly transparent about its centre’s features. Many rival operations boast security guards and iris scanners, and their precise locations are kept secret. Recently, aerial shots of Apple’s new 500,000 sq.-foot facility in Maiden, N.C., were released by Wired. Apple is also building a 21,000 sq.-foot “tactical data centre” on the same lot. Some speculate it could be a biofuel cell plant to power the centre. Apple is also said to be building another new data centre in Reno, Nev.
Data centres tend to be built in Oregon, North Carolina and Virginia due to the cheap, plentiful electricity and generous tax incentives. In turn, the centres have sparked a mini-employment boom in local communities. Facebook reportedly spends $3.5 million in payroll for its data-farm employees.
By Peter Nowak - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
As numerous analysts have pointed out, this week could make or break Nokia as it shows off its new Windows Phone 8 devices at a press event in New York. “Make” is actually a strong word – “stave off death” is probably more appropriate.
The storied Finnish cellphone maker, in partnership with Microsoft, is benefiting from some good timing in light of the big setback handed to Samsung by a court two weeks ago. With the court siding with Apple in that epic patent dispute, Samsung and other phone manufacturers using Google’s Android operating system are likely to be slowed down in the near term, at least in the all-important U.S. market.
That gives Nokia, which essentially put all of its eggs into Microsoft’s basket last year, a window of opportunity. Wireless carriers are now especially inclined to push Windows phones, to prevent Apple and perhaps even Android from gaining too much power over them.
So far though, Nokia and Microsoft have failed to spark the imaginations of the buying public. Windows phones, despite promising a very different experience from iPhone and Android devices, have captured less than 4 per cent of the global market, according to Strategy Analytics. That’s compared to 17 and 68 per cent respectively for Apple and Google. (BlackBerry, by the way, has plummeted to just 6 per cent, according to IDC.)
By Jesse Brown - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM - 0 Comments
It took jurors three days to decide what an eight year old could have told you in seconds: Samsung copied Apple. Look at an iPhone, then look at a Galaxy. It’s obvious. But so what?
Though Apple was quick to describe the decision as a victory for its core values of “originality” and “innovation,” let’s remember some of the real values Apple is built upon. Steve Jobs, who once quoted (stole?) Picasso’s line about great artists stealing, was himself a wonderfully original thief. All of Apple’s innovations are slick remixes of pre-existing ideas, from the graphic user interface Jobs lifted from Xerox (which Bill Gates later copied from him) to the iPod, which Apple has acknowledged was basically invented by this British guy in 1979. Technology, like all of human culture, progresses bit by bit as we build on each other’s work. Patents are a regulatory system imposed on technology, intended to make sure that inventors get paid for inventing. But they didn’t work out for the British dude who invented the digital audio player, and they aren’t working now.
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, August 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
The leading players in the global smartphone market have very different ideas about what the future should look like
Siri, the iPhone’s voice-activated “virtual assistant,” kicked off this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June by cracking jokes about San Francisco’s weather, Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists and other subjects only software engineers could find funny (“How many developers does it take change a light bulb? None, that’s a hardware problem”). But it wasn’t long before Siri launched a few verbal jabs at Google, as well as the Asian manufacturing giants that now churn out millions of iPhone-esque devices to run on its Android mobile software. “I’m excited about the new Samsung,” Siri deadpanned in her digital twang. “Not the phone—the refrigerator. Hubba, hubba.”
Siri’s gentle ribbing masked a deeper fallout between Apple and Google, once strategic partners. Before he died, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that Android was “grand theft” of the iPhone concept. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” he said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Many assumed Jobs was referring to the avalanche of patent infringement lawsuits Apple has launched against Samsung, HTC and others. But in recent months it’s become clear he had other plans too. At the same June developer’s conference, Apple unveiled a new mapping application that will replace Google Maps on the iPhone and iPad. Then, earlier this month, Apple revealed that iPhones and iPads would no longer ship with Google’s popular YouTube app pre-installed. Even Siri, though still a beta project, is considered by some to be an eventual replacement for Google’s ubiquitous search engine on future Apple machines. “Apple wants to cut the cord—any ties it has to Google,” says Kevin Restivo, a senior analyst with research firm IDC. “It’s a classic turf grab. The more control you have over the smartphone operating system and the user experience, the more lucrative it is.”
By Angelina Chapin - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
The one-time star of the dot-com era tries to figure out what to be as it grows up
For Ted Mirsky, Yahoo! is a party trick. When his friends or co-workers are stumped by a question, the 27-year-old self-described “early adopter” from Ottawa often says: “Hold up, I’ll Yahoo! it,” and pulls out his phone. “Some people get it—and some people go, ‘Huh?! Don’t you use Google by now?’ ” says Mirsky. “It’s a go-to bit of mine.”
While not everyone would consider Yahoo! the butt of a joke—especially not the 700 million who use it worldwide each month to check their email or browse news headlines—Mirsky’s sarcastic gag hits on the company’s biggest problem: people don’t know what it does well. Google does search, Facebook does social networking, eBay does e-commerce. What about Yahoo!? Even former CEO Carol Bartz struggled with the question when hired in 2009. After talking to users worldwide she concluded it was people’s “home on the Internet,” a nebulous description that only confirmed the brand’s identity problem.
Surprisingly, the 18-year-old company still has a stubborn fan base that no doubt feels a mix of brand loyalty and resistance to change. Yahoo! is the No. 1 U.S. site by comScore in 10 content categories, with sports and finance the most popular. Its second-quarter earnings were announced in June and, despite a slide of 4.4 per cent from the year before, revenue is still $1.2 billion. The problem is the future—if the answer to Yahoo!’s identity crisis is that it’s a content company, it’s one that has not shown an ability to innovate. And without that, its continued prospects on the Internet look grim.
By Jesse Brown - Monday, August 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM - 0 Comments
Must I repeat them? Okay, then. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google’s motto is “don’t be evil.” Like Charles Foster Kane’s “Declaration of Principles” when he took over the Inquirer in Citizen Kane, these lofty statements were proudly and publicly made by a young, idealistic company that wanted to police its future self against the corrupting influence of success. Today, Google wants to police you, instead.
Google just announced it will begin downgrading known piracy sites in its search results. Soon, when you search for “watch Breaking Bad online,” you will be directed to AMC’s official Breaking Bad site, not to one of the many illicit streaming sites or torrent trackers that host or connect to pirated files. The idea, says Google, is to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.” Sounds reasonable, right?
By The Associated Press - Monday, August 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM - 0 Comments
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Google Inc. is altering its search results to de-emphasize the websites of repeat copyright offenders and make it easier to find legitimate providers of music, movies and other content.
The move is a peace offering to Hollywood and the music recording labels. This year, Google joined other Silicon Valley heavyweights to help kill legislation that would have given government and content creators more power to shut down foreign websites that promote piracy.