Posts tagged Google
By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
BEIJING (AP) – A year after a public spat with Beijing over censorship, Google Inc. says its business with Chinese advertisers is growing even as the Internet giant’s share of online searches in China plunges.
A major Chinese portal announced last week it would no longer use Google for search, compounding its rapid loss of market share since March last year when it closed its local search engine. The future of a Google map service that is a key part of its remaining appeal in China is in doubt.
Google’s main presence in China has become its advertising sales offices, an unusual situation for a company that dominates the Internet elsewhere.
Google risked being completely shut out of China after it angered Beijing by announcing last January it no longer wanted to comply with Web censorship. It dodged that fate but without a flagship local online presence, analysts say Google will fall further behind local industry leader Baidu Inc. as a search provider, while the controversy makes it hard to line up Chinese partners for other ventures.
“Chinese companies will think twice before they can have any kind of relationship with Google,” said Edward Yu, president of Analysys International, a research firm in Beijing.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, says it sees its biggest opportunities in China in selling advertising on behalf of local websites or to companies that want to reach customers abroad through its global sites.
Google was allowed to keep advertising sales offices in China. Beijing had an incentive to let those stay, because they benefit local websites and advertisers.
“Google’s revenue in China has grown year-on-year,” said a company spokeswoman, Jessica Powell, in an e-mail. “Our business in China is doing well. We have hundreds of partners – large and small – who we continue to work with.”
Yet its public relationship with Beijing is chilly. After Chinese authorities stepped up Web censorship following pro-democracy protests in the Middle East, Google said last month the government was obstructing access to its Gmail e-mail service and trying to make the blockage look like a technical problem. The government denied the accusation.
This week, the government newspaper Economic Daily said three Google units that deal with research and development, customer support and advertising were under investigation for possible tax offenses. State media played up the report and one newspaper called the company “Brother Trouble,” a play on its Chinese name. Google said in a statement, “We believe we are, and always have been, in full compliance with Chinese tax law.”
Mainland users can reach Google’s Chinese-language site in Hong Kong, a self-governing Chinese territory without Web censorship. That comes with a big drawback: Beijing’s filters can make access sluggish, reducing the site’s appeal in China, which has more than 450 million people online.
Google does not break out sales by country, but Analysys estimated its 2010 China revenue at 2.6 billion yuan ($409 million) – or less than 1.5 percent of Google’s global revenues of $29.3 billion.
Last year’s dispute testified to the complex Internet landscape in China, which promotes Web use for business and education but has strict controls on content and blocks social media sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Google’s China site still offers music downloads, business services and other features that are not subject to censorship. Users can click a link to reach the Hong Kong site.
Google’s share of China’s search traffic fell to 19.6 percent in the final quarter of 2010 from 30.9 percent in the first quarter, according to Analysys. It said Baidu’s share rose to 75 percent.
Citigroup analyst Alicia Yap said data from other researchers show an even sharper plunge in Google’s traffic share to 11 percent in the fourth quarter while Baidu rose to 84 percent.
Google still is China’s second-most-popular search service based on use of the Hong Kong site and others abroad. It leads rivals such as Sogou, Tencent Soso and Zhongsou, which have market shares at or below 1 percent.
But the lack of a local presence will hurt as competition for new users spreads to mobile phones and the countryside, where users speak little English and will want a Chinese search engine, Yu said.
“Baidu is in a very good position to grab more market share,” he said.
In a new blow to its public visibility, a leading a Chinese portal, Sina.com, said this week it would no longer use Google. The search giant has ended a series of such partnerships as it stopped providing censored results.
Baidu has expanded aggressively, rolling out new services in the past year in an effort to differentiate a company long seen as a Google imitator.
New competitors including state media also are jumping into the market with search and social media products. The government’s Xinhua News Agency launched a search engine last year in a partnership with state-owned China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone carrier by subscribers.
Google faces another challenge from new regulations that tighten control over online map services. On Thursday, the deadline to apply for licenses, Google said it was “in discussions with the government about how we could offer a maps product in China.”
“Google maps is one of the services that people still like a lot,” said Yap. “If they can’t provide the service in the future, people will use Google less and less.”
Yu said Google’s situation might change if a planned handover of power next year from President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders to a younger generation leads to a shift in official attitudes.
“New officials will be in place,” he said, “so things could change at that time.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NFC, the near field communications technology for wireless payment systems, has made a major market breakthrough.
It has won the support of internet giant Google.
In addition, Intel and CSR have significantly increased their support for the technology, which could turn every mobile phone into a contactless payment credit card.
The NFC Forum, the industry body tasked with promoting the use of the technology, has announced that Google has become a principal member.
CSR and Intel, formerly associate members, have raised their membership status to the principal level.
“The NFC Forum thrives on the active participation of global industry leaders and innovators such as CSR, Google, and Intel,” said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum.
“Their energy, ideas, and influence will greatly enhance the work of the Forum,” said Tagawa.
The UK and France are developing the technology rapidly. There are plans to introduce it in the US, and the technology is already widespread in Japan.
As a principal member Google will have a voting representative at each of the technical, marketing, and compliance committees which drive the global standardisation of the tyechnology.
NFC technology allows users to pay for low cost goods, such as coffee or train tickets, up to a value of £15 by passing their mobile phones over a proximity reader.
In the UK, 02 plans to offer mobile phones with a built-in wallet. Everything Everywhere (T-mobile and Orange) is working with MasterCard to roll out a commercial NFC service by the second quarter.
NFC can be used in other applications, for example to verify the identity of a person entering a building or logging on to a computer, or to allow a customer to use their mobile phone as a hotel room key, in addition to mobile payments.
The technology could also allow people to transfer money to each other by touching phones.
See: Gemalto and MasterCard make NFC secure
Google is planning moves in the mobile payment services arena this year, according to reports.
The company will pay for the installation of thousands of NFC (Near Field Communication) short-range, wireless point-of-sale systems from VeriFone at stores in New York and San Francisco, Bloomberg reported, citing two unidentified sources familiar with the project. Users of phones with NFC chips in them could then make payments by holding the devices up to the specialised reader.
Google said the company was not commenting on the report. Representatives from VeriFone did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Google is partnering with MasterCard and Citigroup to deliver a mobile-payment service to Android smartphones.
Citing anonymous sources, The Wall Street Journal has said that Google will later this year allow people with debit and credit cards from MasterCard and Citigroup to turn on an app and pay for a purchase from their smartphones.
If the test is successful, the sources said that Google will look to expand its partnerships with other institutions.
The adoption of mobile payment systems has been held up by the lack of NFC chips in handsets. Later this year, Visa will begin offering a way to use existing smartphones for such payments with a microSD (Secure Digital) removable memory card.
Meanwhile, Google added some NFC capabilities to Android in an update earlier this year and reportedly is working on a mobile wallet code-named “Cream” that will be integrated into NFC-enabled Androids.
Amex takes payment 2.0 step
American Express has also just taken a full-out dive into the future of consumer payment transactions, announcing Serve, a set of applications designed to let users make payments more easily online or with mobile phones via special accounts funded by credit cards, debit cards or bank accounts. With this product, the company “aims to expand into new segments of the market that do not rely on traditional charge and credit cards to manage their day-to-day finances”.
Serve is for business as well as consumers, according to American Express.
“We intend to quickly evolve the Serve platform by adding new features and functionality as we learn from consumer and merchant experiences,” Dan Schulman, American Express president of enterprise growth, said in a release.
“To encourage a broad cross-section of people to experience the benefits and convenience of Serve, we are working with a range of partners to integrate Serve as a payment method and deliver customised offers, and we will waive most consumer fees for the next six months.”
These fees will be “highly competitive” when instated, the release said.
Among the partners co-opting Serve as a platform are Ticketmaster, which will use the new software to make it possible for ticket buyers to get paid back more easily by their event-going companions, and electronics recycling company Flipswap, which will use it to issue refunds for traded-in gadgets.
Individual Serve users can access their accounts through the main Serve.com site, through iPhone and Android applications and, most interestingly, through Facebook. They can segment their accounts into “sub-accounts” that can be accessed by different people with varying amounts of control, like a teenager for allowance or a household employee like a pet-sitter.
American Express is also encouraging the use of Serve by non-profits; five charities, including Save The Children and Malaria No More, are using Serve “donation widgets” to promote and encourage fundraising through the new platform.
Computerworld – Google, MasterCard and Citigroup are reportedly working together on Near-Field Communication technology inside of Android phones to allow quick, contact-less payments at 150,000 NFC-ready terminals in the U.S.
According to unnamed sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Google would not collect a portion of transaction fees, opting instead to use purchasing data from customers to target retailers’ ads and discounts for mobile phone users.
The project is reportedly in its early stages, although the Google-backed system is expected to be released sometime this year. Citigroup would allow its debit and credit card customers to pay for purchases at train stations and retail shops using an app on various Android phones enabled by an NFC radio chip inside the phone.
Google’s interest in NFC — combined with other announcements involving Visa and American Express — show that NFC “is the new holy grail for…credit card issuers who see the hundreds of millions of smartphone devices being equipped with the technology as ripe for the picking,” said Jack Gold, analyst at J. Gold Associates. “No one wants to be left behind.”
VeriFone Systems, which makes credit card readers used widely by merchants, is also reportedly involved in the Google project for NFC-capable Android phones.
There are about 150,000 contact-less NFC-based terminals already in McDonald’s and DuaneReade drug stores and other locations in the U.S., and contact-less chips are already installed in many credit cards, unbeknownst to users.
A phone with an NFC chip installed or added through a special case would allow an application to be layered on over the NFC capability, even allowing person-to-person payments between two capable phones in close proximity, said Dave Wentker, senior leader of mobile product development at Visa.
Visa is working on four pilot NFC projects in San Francisco and New York with US Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase, Wentker said in an interview at International CTIA Wireless last week. MasterCard officials also held meetings, but its place in the race to offer NFC was unclear.
Wentker said the Visa trials, first announced in December, use BlackBerry and Android smartphones with special microSD cards installed. The trials also have used the iPhone 4 with a special case that switches the NFC antenna on and off.
Meet Google Goggles, Augmented Reality Vector
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It’s early days for computer vision software such a Google Goggles, which some analysts and even Google itself feel hasn’t tapped its true potential.
One such role for Goggles could be as a vector for augmented reality (AR), which comprises the overlay of information on real-world views seen through a mobile phone’s camera viewfinder.
Goggles is a visual search application that uses smartphone cameras to send image information to Google’s computing clouds, then back to the users’ phones to complete an action.
Users of Android and Apple iPhone smartphones can use the app to snap pictures of landmarks, books, CDs, wine bottles, art. Google has taught the app to recognize print ads, QR codes and barcodes, solve Sudoku puzzles and translate menus from one language to another.
But what if Google tweaked Goggles in such a way as to retrieve not just historic info from its search engine, but to overlay real-time information about things or even places when a user points the camera at an object?
Google Goggles Product Manager Shailesh Nalawadi said Google is considering different applications for AR.
“When you do it well in current paradigm, it feels more real-time,” Nalawadi told eWEEK. “AR is a user interface, user experience innovation. It’s something we are looking to do as well, but at the right time.”
It’s one thing to whip up another newfangled piece of software, and quite another to find a practical use for it.
Nalawadi provided a hypothetical scenario where Google might use AR. For example, a mobile phone user could point his Android phone at a restaurant or bar across the street to learn menu, hours of operation, ratings, deals and other info.
Some AR browser makers, such as Wikitude and Layar, operate in this fashion. Google’s core goal is rooted in search, so Nalawadi said Goggles needs to answer another question: what is the specific piece of information a user is looking for when they search with their mobile phone?
>>> More Indexing & Search Engine Articles >>> More By Clint Boulton
Google will begin testing its Near Field Communication (NFC) based mobile payment system within the next four months, reports Bloomberg.
The trial will be taking place in New York and San Francisco across selected retailers allowing consumers to make financial transactions with a wave of their mobile phone.
Mobile devices equipped with an NFC chip such as the Samsung made Nexus S released in late 2010 will apparently provide shoppers with an alternative to traditional payment methods by allowing them to wave their mobile phone near an NFC enabled register to complete a transaction.
At present NFC is in its infancy in terms of market acceptance with a limited number of mobile devices supporting the technology, in addition no universal standards have been established making big players such as Apple hesitant to embrace NFC.
Apple have held back on supporting NFC in the next iPhone anticipated later this year due to there being no clear set standard, reports The Independent.
The Independent also reports that Apple is exploring its own NFC implementation that will integrate with iTunes and that it’s likely to emerge in a new handset some time in 2012.
Despite Apple’s hesitancy, it is expected NFC will be supported in future Android handsets.
Ottawa: Apple’s iPhone worked slower loading websites 84 per cent of the time in a test than phones using Google’s Android operating system, according to a Canadian software company.
The iPhone 4 was pitted against Google’s Nexus S smartphone over the same WiFi connection, so any differences in mobile-carrier speeds didn’t affect the outcome, Ottawa-based Blaze Software said in releasing the research.
The Android phone operated 52 per cent faster on average after more than 45,000 page loads from 1,000 websites, Blaze said.
Users don’t always notice the speed gap because websites are sometimes tailored to mobile phones, Blaze said.
The difference will become more obvious as users demand richer experiences and move to tablet computers with larger screens, said Guy Podjarny, chief technology officer of Blaze, whose business is helping companies increase website download times.
“It’s not that Apple doesn’t care about speed, but Google is fanatical about it,” Podjarny said in an interview.
Apple fell $15.42, or 4.5 per cent, to close at $330.01 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading, and has risen 47 per cent in 12 months.
Google declined $12.46, or 2.2 per cent, to close at $557.10, and has retreated 1.4 per cent in 12 months.
Android became the world’s best-selling smartphone operating system in the fourth quarter, outselling the iPhone two-to-one, according to Canalys, a research company based in the UK.
Web pages took an average of 2.14 seconds to load on Android compared with 3.25 seconds on iPhone, Blaze said.
When loading lighter websites — those that are optimal for mobile phones because the pages have fewer features, such as pictures, to be downloaded — the difference between the two systems was less noticeable, according to the report.
That’s probably because there were fewer page elements, making a download more efficient, Podjarny said.
Google’s browser is probably faster because of the way it organises the download, Podjarny said.
Google’s software finds more efficient ways of getting different elements of a page, such as pictures or text, he said.
The difference in download speeds may be the result of corporate philosophies, Podjarny said.
Design for speed
Google, based in Mountain View, California, has a team devoted to making its browser and websites faster, employing tools such as downloading things in parallel and accessing page elements before they are needed, Podjarny said.
The company’s platform is also newer, allowing Google to design for speed from the beginning, he said.
Apple has concentrated its resources on design, while “retrofitting” speed into a product line developed before download times were a priority, he said. The first iPhones appeared in 2007.
“The appreciation of speed has grown in the last year or two,” Podjarny said.
“Before, people weren’t really expecting a fast browser on a mobile device. Google has the advantage of coming in a little later and seeing what matters.”
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone call or an e-mail seeking comment on the Blaze study.
A Google spokeswoman, Gina Weakley, declined to comment.
Apple more than doubled the reach of its latest smartphone, the iPhone 4, in the US this year, offering the device to customers using Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile carrier.
Blaze said it ran more than its tests, primarily on the iPhone 4 and Google Nexus S, on websites of the Fortune 1000 companies.
The pages were loaded multiple times on different days, according to the report.
The results may have flaws, according to Blaze.
“We know there’s no such thing as a perfect web page load measurement,” the report authors wrote.
The number of variables involved in loading a single page “is astonishing,” according to the report.
Google is reportedly planning to test a mobile payment system based on NFC (near field communication) technology in shops in New York and San Francisco within the next four months.
People familiar with Google’s plans have told Bloomberg that Google will be installing thousands of NFC enabled cash register systems at partner locations. The new technology would work like the Oyster card system used on London Transport, except cutomers would place a mobile device on the reader instead.
The special cash registers have been built by VeriFone Systems and have been designed to accept mobile payments from mobile phones that are equipped with NFC chips. Google is hoping to a get a head start in the mobile payment market by bringing its own payment services to the market before any one else.
Google’s service will compete with an upcoming mobile payment system being developed in a partnership between Ebay’s PayPal and ISIS. The system is backed by wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless with the payments being handled by Discover Financial Services. The service will be trialled this year.
Google’s NFC service, or any other mobile payments service for that matter, will be counting on mobile phone and smartphone makers to include NFC technology on their devices.
Samsung’s new Nexus S smartphone is one of the few devices that comes with this technology but Nokia and Research in Motion have both confirmed that they will launching NFC enabled devices soon.
Google Inc.’s Android system has come under malware attacks recently.
Reports of malware attacks on cell phones and tablets using Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system has put an undesirable spotlight on the vulnerability of the Internet search giant’s Android Market.
The situation also highlights the differences between Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) approach to mobile security and Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL).
Whereas Google doesn’t vet the security of apps before letting them be offered for download, Apple notoriously rules its App Store offerings with an iron hand.
So it really wasn’t surprising when computer-security experts last week found more than 50 malicious applications on the Android Market that could create unwanted and perhaps dangerous mischief on unsuspecting users’ devices.
Google’s approach to apps has been buyer beware and relies on community enforcement, the so-called wisdom of the crowd. When the crowd is downloading something with a name like “Hilton Sex Sound,” that wisdom seems more than a little suspect.
Apple’s approach is to reassure iPhone, iPad and Mac users that everything for sale or free download in its App Store is safe and tested.
Google said in a blog post over the weekend that the malware was downloaded on only about 260,000 devices and that it was able to remotely fix the problem. It also suspended the accounts of the developers who uploaded the apps and has informed law enforcement.
Google’s looser approach to mobile has helped Android become the No. 1 operating system in the United States. It has also helped it to rapidly gain ground on the number of apps it offers Android users, although it still trails Apple by a wide margin.
But negative publicity like last week’s malware discovery could hamper its drive to be the dominant mobile choice.
Android claimed about 29 percent of the U.S. market in the period, followed by Apple and Blackberry maker Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM), tied at No. 2 with 27 percent each.
Unlike Apple and RIM, Google licenses its Android operating system to other device makers, with HTC and Motorola selling the devices that count for most of its share.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has 1,500 employees in the Dayton region, had exclusivity for the iPhone until Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was granted rights to sell the iPhone. Verizon is selling its iPhones through its stores as well as at Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) and Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) stores.
A recent report also said Android was gaining fast in the tablet market, but that report was before Apple launched its iPad 2 this week.
Competition is heating up even more in the mobile tablet category though as Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) announced that it will produce a tablet with the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) operating system, according to the report. And that Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is planning a tablet as well.
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Wednesday, 09, Mar 2011 12:46
Mobile phone users who search using Google Instant will find they can now see previews of sites before clicking on them.
Similar to Google Instant for PCs, this version will allow consumers to see snippets of pages listed in the search results – simply by tapping on the magnifying glass symbol displayed next to each site’s entry.
This will allow people to find the content they are looking for without needing to flick between search results and websites, the Google Mobile blog states.
In a post for Marketing Pilgrim, Cynthia Boris notes that this could be an important development for businesses using mobile marketing, as consumers will be able to choose which site they want to visit without needing to click through.
“When customers see a preview of your front page will it pull them in or will they keep on scrolling until they reach your competitor?,” she asks.
Google claims that the changes will make it easier for mobile web users to find the results they need.
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