Browsing "internet news"
Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.
It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.
It keeps going and going..
The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.
This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.
“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.
Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.
In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.
Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.
In the midst of the StreetView debacle in which Google accidentally nabbed unencrypted wi-fi data, they’ve been under a bit of scrutiny. A feature which was discussed while the controversy was picking up steam, was the news that Google had plans to encrypt searches within their engine. A new extension for Chrome has recently debuted, as well as an SSL encrypted Google session.
In essence, what the extension allows a Chrome user to do, is set their default search to become SSL encrypted. Allowing all of the searches done within this session to become encrypted so that sneaky StreetView cars can’t nab your searches and search results. Navigating to the Google SSL search page, allows the same thing for all other browser users out there.
If you’re a privacy concerned individual, who feels that your searches are that important or private that they need to be hidden from would be snoopers, then these would be the two easy access tools for you. There’s no worry about your searches being altered or lessened in any way however, Google functions precisely as you’d expect. Quick, efficient, and now fully encrypted for all of your privacy needs.
I’ve seen a lot of views of the interview with Peter Norvig, the director of research at Google, over the last few days. He talks about the company and part of it’s core ideas, of being an engineering business, and about why it makes Google wrong. Not all the time mind you, and not entirely. But sometimes, and in some ways, they have admittedly errored.
When he mentioned that Google is a business modelled after engineering, he made the point that you don’t want to be right all the time. Because if you are, you’re not learning anything. And you can’t learn, you can’t grow, evolve, and experiment more. He also made the point relevant to search that, search results aren’t neccisarily right or wrong. Only that some searches may work better than others. It’s a two step in which they check for clear errors, and a second in which they look for what fits best.
Norvig also talked about how and why people get different search results at times. And about how they always make a point to place the most popular or relevant result first, but that two different searchers at the same time, can get different results for the other 9 on the page. He broke it down very basically :
“if I do a search of the New York Times, I want nytimes.com to be the top result. But what should the 10th result be? There is no right answer to that.”
It’s interesting to read, how Google has basically embraced the idea of failure, and about how it’s always an option or an answer to a problem. If you’re interested in investing the time to read, you can find the interview over at slate.com.
With their sink or swim approach to business, Google Wave has crashed. At the end of the year, Wave will be dismantled, some portions being retained and used in current and future apps. Wave was an innovation in collaberation, which was great once you got the hang of it. Intuitive however, it was not. To work with, and discover Wave’s nuances you had to keep at it, and learn as you work with your friends and colleagues.
Meanwhile, on the hands free end of the news, smartphones running the Android platform has reached the point of 200,000 activations per day. The conservative estimate is that as we approach the end of the year, it’ll be nearing the 30 million Androids in the public.
In a Nielson poll, Android based phones outsold the iPhone so far in 2010 (July outstanding), 27% for the Android versus 23% for the Apple iPhone. Loyalty may become a problem however, as iPhone users are happiest with their handsets (despite the antenna woes), with only 71% of Android owners and users being content enough to continue to use and upgrade their handset.
The ball may remain in Android’s court however, as with the platform being open source, any smartphone manufacturer can build and provide a phone that uses the software.
In the news to come column, Google has inked a deal to purchase Slide, a social app developer. Expected to be announced on Friday, this would mark a second large step in the social avenue of the web, along with Googles previous investment of more than $100 million into social gaming company Zynga.
Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said that social networking was important to Google:
“Search is going to get better with more social information.”
“We have understood for a long time that social stuff is very important. The question that’s in everyone’s minds is why are we trying to create a competitor to Facebook, and the answer is we’re not going to create a competitor to Facebook. It’s something different.”
“It’s hard to see how we could end up as becoming a significant gaming or entertainment source,” he said. “It’s much more likely that we would become an infrastructure for those sorts of things.”
In the blog yesterday, I wrote of a CNN article in which the authors outed themselves, rather obviously in fact, about how trying to compare social websites, to search websites, just doesn’t work. It’s trying to compare two different businesses and business models. Recently, Facebook launched a new service of theirs called Facebook Questions, essentially allowing Facebookers to ask questions of each other, and garner answers and opinions.
Perhaps it’s irony, or karma which contributes to it’s, perhaps fatal, flaw. Facebook Questions, has no search function. 500 million Facebook users with the ability to ask and answer questions, but with no discernable way to search through those entries. It’s a basic function which should exist within this type of service, could you imagine Wikipedia without a way to search it?
When you first look at the Facebook Questions page, there is a simple box which states a simple enough question; “What do you want to know?” As accustumed as we are to the web, this would seem the logical place to begin a search query, as opposed to presenting a direct question. However, if you try to search in this way, you’ll receive an error box basically telling you your question needs to have 3 or more words. And when you finish your “query” you don’t end up with a list of possible answers to a question, you will in fact, end up creating one!
Facebook Questions fan page has a brief description stating : Facebook Questions is a new feature similar to Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers. But instead of being user friendly and searchable to find the answers to questions you may have, it falsely inflates the count of true asked questions by auto-creating new questions. Regardless if someone has already posed the same question. For example, asking “Do you prefer cats or dogs” and “Do you prefer dogs or cats” Would be 2 different questions within it’s “knowledge base”. In digging through the provided information on the new service, “you can’t search for keywords, only topics”. As you dig into their topics however, it’s still difficult to find an answer you desire, as you have to page through previously asked questions, one at a time.
To be able to compare to Yahoo answers, or LinkedIn Answers, Facebook Questions has a very long way to go. Their priority, despite being a beta service though, should be a user friendly search feature to it’s already asked questions. Touted as Googles main “competitor”, it needs to be noted, that without the basic function that Google provides, Facebook Questions will probably be dead in the water before it launches.
Google is cleared of snooping, meanwhile their search business is drying up and Google is home of the most malware.
Out of the three headlines that graced some of my reading today, only one had any lick of sense to it. The Information Commissioners Office of the UK, has essentially cleared the Goog of any wrong doing in the accidental acquisition of wi-fi data by Street View cars. From the ICO:
“The information we saw does not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person. On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data.”
The ICO will however, continue to monitor the other global investigations into the data collected by Street View cars by the other nations (France, Spain, Germany, Australia and 38 states in the US) filing suit.
Google Search Dieing?
In a CNNMoney Fortune article that made me wonder if it was ever actually read or double checked, Googles growth, and search business is apparently dieing and shriveling up. Facebook, according to the article, is Googles biggest and most fearsome competitor, and Apple is trouncing the giant in tech growth.
Even just the first sentence invokes a sense of “what the?” when in the space of a few words the authors admit Google is growing at rates all of Fortune 500 companies would envy, yet Google is losing it’s steam. Lumping Google in the leagues of Microsoft, IBM and Cisco isn’t something I would call a sign of their demise as the search leader.
And as for comparing Facebook to Google, and saying that Facebook is Googles largest competitor? It’s like comparing a Chrysler to a Porsche. They’re in completely different leagues, different industries, with different goals and objectives. Facebook is social, Google is search. And using an example of someone leveraging social media to their advantage, and using a phrase like “Try that with a keyword search” proves that they hadn’t the slightest clue as to what they were speaking about.
And in the obvious section of the web, Google is the Malware King of the web. It just seems to make sense to me, that the largest search provider on the globe, would obviously return the most results from spammers and black hatters and hackers grabbing websites.
You find varying numbers from around the web, but it’s for certaing that Google owns 65% + of all search online. Is it really a surprise then, that in a report from Barracuda Labs, that Google returns 69% malware on popular and trending topics? It was in the news a great many times, and it’s been discussed, written about and beaten to death that spammers and hijackers will do everything they can to ride the trends. Remember the relief websites for Haiti? At the peak of the push for global assistance, it would be a shock to find a full, clean page of search results. Hijacking websites on trending topics is how black hatters and spammers make their living, it stands to reason that going after the largest search provider is the strategy to follow.
Well it didn’t take long for the gloves to come off. Earlier this week, Yahoo Japan made the switch to using Google powered results. It was unclear at the time whether or not Microsoft would be able to make any moves on the change, as they only own a minority stake in the company.
Fast forward a little, and Microsoft has indeed made inroads to stopping the pair for joining up. They cited that, at present Google comprises 51% of paid search returns in Japan, while Yahoo Japan accounts for another 47%. So if the two were to join up, Microsoft contends that Google will have complete dominance over the paid search industry in Japan. This agreement also would lead Google to taking over the organic results as well. Googles information gains would go through the roof in Japan. Every person, business and government agencies search history would be at their analytical fingertips.
They boil it down, and compare the current partnership, to the one in 2008 which the Department of Justice blocked, citing a monopoly. One of the bigger differences in the current case at hand, is apparently Google already has Japans Federal Trade Commission blessing, and has had it for some time. The next few weeks in Japans paid and unpaid search industry will be a doozy.
When someone mentions being sociable on the web, most times you immediately think of things like Facebook, Twitter and maybe even Foursquared. What you don’t think of in that phrase, is Google. Or any iteration of a social site under their domain. Signs lately however, point to the possibility of that changing in the future.
Google made a bit of a mis-step in the public arena already, what with their bummbled release of Buzz, what with making everyones information public to their email list. But in following the trends, Google has been dumping cash into Zynga, the creators of Farmville etc, in the neighborhood of $100 million.
If the hype is to be believed, Big G is working on another step into the social arena, perhaps this time on the gaming front. Farmville, Mafiawars, etc have huge followings within Facebook. Farmville alone has upwards of 60 million players in their portfolio, and it’s climbing. When asked directly however, if Google is entering the same social space as Facebook, Google exec. Eric Schmidt said:
“..the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing.”
There’s a lot of speculation about Google versus Facebook versus Google, and while they’re both the major players in their respective arenas, they’ve both fell short when trying to enter the others space. Facebooks internal search is clumsy, and works only with their own pages, and Googles social platform was dogged with security and privacy concerns. With the money being pumped into social gaming, and Google already owning Orkut, speculation would lead to the idea that Big G does have something up it’s sleeve. Just what that might be however, remains to be seen.
It was only a matter of time really. Previously the DoJ in the US was looking at the data Google had collected during it’s Street View runs, and was holding it’s cards close to it’s chest. Some of the individual states however, have taken their own road, led by Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal says 38 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in the investigation, with Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas on the executive committee. Other states joining the coalition include New York, Mississippi, Vermont, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, Montana and Rhode Island.
The whole mess kicked off when German privacy concerns launched a probe into the Google Street View collection practices. Discovering that the software was not only picking up open and unsecured wi-fi points, but was also collecting any data which was passing along the connection. Blumenthal main point of contention, is that the answers Google gives, only serves to present more questions than are answered. When the wi-fi software was found in the Street View program for example, it wasn’t known that there was tangible, usable data contained within it. Oops?
It’s being asked whether or not the specific persons involved with implementing the code snippet will be identified, and how is it that Google wasn’t aware what the code was fully capable of. It seems rather far fetched that it would have gone completely unnoticed.
On a lighter note..
Almost a Facebook Nation..
As the overseer of the “third largest country” in the world, it’s no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, denies signing over an 84% stake in the company for a mere $1000.
After having a brief commemoration of the site turning over the 500 million mark, Zuckerberg admitted that the privacy policies on the site were handled poorly.
“We’ve made mistakes for sure, I think they’re a lot better.”
When pressed as to why personal information isn’t automatically set to full private, the answer was basic, Facebook is set up in a way to enable people to share. Adding however, that ideally having certain information always private would be a step in the right direction.
Another D-Day is looming on the horizon, and website owners are going to be learning another step to the SEO dance. It’s been in the works for the last while, the Yahoo-Bing search results merger, and in a recent press release from Bing, the proverbial trigger was pulled.
For webmasters, it’s important to be familiar with how the Bing crawler interacts with your site. After the full algorithmic transition is complete, you only need to optimize for one crawler (Bing), as we will provide Yahoo! with results from our index.
All of the little tricks, optimizations and tweaks that we’ve learned over the last year, can be trimmed down to the Bing bones as it were. In other words, don’t be surprised if your site shuffles and changes in ranking on Bing abd Yahoo, depending on which secondary search you work with.
You can find the entire press release issued, from their senior VP of their online services division, here.