Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Google taking over the world.
This is from Mobiledia.com so i quoted the whole article.
Next month, the world will welcome the Chinese New Year of the snake, but the tech world will probably call 2013 the Year of Google.
If you get the feeling it's a Google World and you just live in it, you aren't alone. The giant company's projects are expansive -- developing the Android operating system that runs most smartphones and tablets, becoming the standard-bearer for mapping, showing off Google driverless cars and smart glasses and dipping its toe into the hardware market.
And CEO Eric Schmidt's recent trip to North Korea underscores Google's near-omnipotence, even in the darkest corners of the earth. Where there's an opening, Google will find its way into it, hunker down and finesse its way into a stronghold -- and these are five of the ways the company will merge, grow and expand in the new year.
1. The Search Continues
Google heads into 2013 free and clear of the two-year-long Federal Trade Commission investigation into search monopoly, paving the way for its dominance to continue. The FTC commission, composed of both Democrats and Republicans, announced earlier this month it concluded its two-year investigation into the issue of search bias and did not take serious action. Despite finding some evidence that changes to the company's search algorithm harmed competitors, the Commission said that these changes "could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google's product and the experience of its users."
The regulatory body also investigated whether Google harmed U.S. consumers by suing to block sales of competing mobile devices, namely those by Apple and Microsoft, for infringing on mobile technology patents Google acquired during its $12.5 billion buy of Motorola Mobility. On this front, the FTC reached a broader settlement with Google that would give competitors access to patents necessary to make smartphones, and other devices, and Google voluntarily agreed to stop borrowing others' content for use in its own services. The settlement encourages Google to resolve patent disputes through arbitration first, not through lengthy, expensive court battles.
Competitors who alleged Google engaged in anti-trust activities believe the search giant got off lightly, compared to FTC treatment of IBM in the 1970s and Microsoft in the 1990s, which levied significant financial penalties and smacked both companies with restrictions.
Maybe the FTC didn't want to hobble a thriving business in these harsh economic times, or perhaps the case didn't merit tougher measures. Google's lobbying efforts may have also paid an important dividend in the decision. Regardless of the reason, Google is out from under the FTC's investigative eye.
Now the immediate FTC threat is gone, Google can plow ahead with its plans to transform its search engine into an "answer engine," designed to give users a better, faster search experience. Through constant refinements of its search algorithm, Google's goal is to build something like the Star Trek computer, able to directly and instantly answer users' queries, and the reality could come closer this year.
However, it faces competition in search by an old foe. Not Microsoft, but instead Facebook, which recently unveiled its Graph Search feature to allow users browse their friends' interests, preferences, locations and other social information on the network more easily. Graph Search could prove a boon for users looking for personalized information and meaningful results on music, books, travel or other subjects, possibly delivering more targeted data than on Google. As Google fights to refine its search results by instituting constant changes in its algorithm, Facebook's offering could pose a threat.
2. Google Wi-Fi
So far, Google isn't in the water you drink, but it is in the air you breathe -- sort of. If you live in the southwest Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, near Google's headquarters, you can dip into the company's free public Wi-Fi access.
Similar to the FTC resolution, the free Wi-Fi public-private project highlights the search giant's increasingly cozy political relationship, but this time with state officials. With the project, Google promises to bring free Internet access to hundreds of thousands of people each year, making it the largest such network in New York City.
New York officials praised Google's move, which will be a resource for more than 2,000 residents, 5,000 students and hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit the neighborhood daily.
"New York is determined to become the world's leading digital city, and universal access to high-speed Internet is one of the core building blocks of that vision," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "Thanks to Google, free Wi-Fi across this part of Chelsea takes us another step closer to that goal."
Some aren't as quick to give Google a pat on the back. Reportedly, the new Wi-Fi network will cost $115,000 to build and $45,000 a year to keep up. Google is picking up two-thirds of the tab, and nonprofit group Chelsea Improvement is covering the rest.
The positive buzz stemming from being associated with an exciting "digital city" project is well worth this tiny -- at least by Google standards -- investment. Also, Google benefits with broadband Internet use, which lets users browse more at faster speeds, executing more Google searches along the way.
In addition to offering free Wi-Fi in its home city of Mountain View, Calif., Google recently launched a plan to offer high-speed fiber-optic Internet access in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and for more than just faster service. The search giant already began testing televisionservices in Kansas City, and the Motorola buyout means Google can make set-top hardware and start a direct run at rival Apple in the growing smart-television arena.
In that light, these isolated projects could hint at Google's deeper ambitions. On the surface, providing free Wi-Fi is a generous gesture, but establishing this infrastructure could also lay the ground work to support and expand bigger, more ambitious projects like Google TV down the road.
3. Google in Your Purse
Beyond getting more bang from its political buck to fuel search and generate positive press, Google is also trying mighty hard to get into your purse.
No, we aren't talking about Google's Wallet, though the company is working to iron out wrinkles with that product. The latest way Google wants to get into your wallet is with Zavers.
Zavers saves digital coupons to your accounts, based on your interests and visits to retailer websites. So, you shop and check out as you normally would, and the real-time savings are automatically deducted at checkout when you give your phone numbers.
The service, which welcomed New York's Original Grocer D'Agostino as the latest network partner, is essentially a coupon book tied to your phone: you add coupons to your account, and they're automatically applied at the register with a single scan. The product's cloud technology gives manufacturers a real-time look at the pace of redemptions so they can target and plan coupon policies with that information in hand.
As Zavers illustrates, companies are taking small steps to lure consumers to go digital when it comes to their pocketbooks. Last fall, Apple joined this market with its Passbook feature on the iPhone 5. Zavers and Passbook are unlike more-ambitious e-payment systems that require NFC chips, store digital versions of their credit cards on handsets and pay for products by scanning their phones at special pay stations at supported retailers.
Passbook takes a more introductory approach to mobile payments, focusing on storing virtual tickets and vouchers, and Zavers does the same with coupons. Google and Apple are betting that by easing consumers into the digital wallet concept with coupons and tickets, it will familiarize them with the e-payment concept while avoiding the security concerns that now accompany smartphone transactions.
4. Not Even the iPhone Escapes Google's Grasp
Apple aficionados scorn Google and its Android OS, extolling the virtues and ease of Apple's operating system in what is increasingly a two-horse smartphone race. But Apple fans aren't as steadfast when it comes to Google's apps, and there are more Google apps than ever in the iOS store, ready for iPhone users to download.
For example, soon after Google released its revamped Maps app in December, it became that month's most downloaded program for the iPhone. Google also pumped out a YouTube app, an iPhone version of its Chrome Web browser and updated software to use its Gmail service.
Two dozen Google iPhone apps, with variations for the iPad, are available on Apple's App Store. The strategy is simple: Google wants to reach an audience that can give it data to improve products and generate more income. Besides, having Apple users familiar with its products could help Google one day turn them to Android, so it's a win-win.
Last year, Apple began removing Google services in apps that come installed on its phones and instead began promoting its own services. But its unreliable and highly criticized maps service, complete with misplaced landmarks and inaccurate addresses, highlights how challenging this approach is. For Google, the snafu was an opportunity to quickly design a Google Maps app for the iPhone and watch it become a hit.
Google's success in this arena is remarkable. According to Nielson, in the U.S. last November, the 11.8 million unique users of the new Google-created YouTube app for the iPhone, and the 6.4 million users of its Google Search app, placed them both in the top 20 list of iPhone apps with the biggest audience.
For Google, it always comes back to advertising. Since Google makes money from selling ads that appear on phones and not the phones themselves, it doesn't care so much about what type of phone its services are on. What is important to Google is whether that consumer uses Google apps, shares data with Google and is looking at Google ads.
5. Google Partners with FBI
You might be surprised to learn the Federal Bureau of Investigation is partnering with Google to catch crooks.
The FBI just launched a website that uses Google Maps to show visitors the location of criminal incidents down to the street level. The site also displays photos of "Wanted" posters of suspects along with their physical descriptions. Users can search locations, an unidentified robber's nickname, weapons used, and other clues.
Google, along with Facebook, is keenly interested in facial recognition technology. The ability to scan through photos looking for specific facial features is also massively appealing to law enforcement agencies who are increasingly turning to these new digital DNA technologies, and getting results.
Last year the FBI arrested hacker Higinio O. Ochoa III after using GPS data embedded in an iPhone's photo of his Australian girlfriend's impressive cleavage, an image he left to taunt authorities. Authorities used the photo to track down Ochoa's girlfriend, and then him, showcasing how law enforcement, even when dealing with a person expected to be highly skilled in covering his digital tracks, can still get its man.
Google's partnership with the FBI may offer citizens a harmless, even helpful way to spend online time, but the future is increasingly crowded with scenarios where this and other Google-inspired technology could be misused and trigger sharp privacy criticisms.