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Tuesday, Sep 17
Google roundup: Wallet, wind farm, exec changes
- Google Wallet (GOOG) whose reliance on NFC radios has long been viewed as a handicap, will now be available on any Android phone running version 2.3 or higher (nearly all of them). Moreover, all major U.S. carriers will now be supported (instead of just Sprint), and a spokesperson suggests Google wants to bring Wallet to the iPhone.
- Wallet is also adding the ability to send money to anyone in the U.S. for free via e-mail. Like the Gmail money-attachment feature announced earlier this year, the feature serves as competition for PayPal (EBAY), though it shouldn't affect the payments giant's merchant transactions. Also added is a loyalty card/coupons feature a bit like Apple's Passbook.
- Bloomberg observed earlier this year Wallet had seen less than 10M downloads, even though Google had spent $300M to buy startups for it. The latest changes should lead to a pickup in downloads.
- As part of its efforts to be carbon-neutral, Google is buying 240MW of power from a Texas wind farm, with plans to sell the energy on wholesale markets and to retire the renewable credits obtained. Google is now committed to buying 570MW of wind power altogether.
- Jean-Baptiste Queru, the Google exec in charge of Android's source code, has left for a position at Yahoo. Queru is the third key Android exec to leave the team this year, after VP Hugo Barra and division chief Andy Rubin.
- On the other hand, Google has managed to poach Microsoft vet Christian Kleinerman to be YouTube's project management chief. The position puts Kleinerman in charge of YouTube's massive data center infrastructure.