Google roundup: EU probe, Chrome, wind farm, Nest

|By:, SA News Editor

EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia still isn't happy with Google's (GOOG) search concessions, and says more concessions are needed in the coming weeks to prevent formal antitrust charges from being levied.

Google has already promised to clearly distinguish links for Google services within its search results, and to make it easier for advertisers to migrate ad campaigns to rival search engines.

Google has updated both the PC and mobile versions of Chrome. The PC update provides automatic malware blocking and a new Windows 8 UI, and alerts users to tabs producing sound. The mobile update adds data compression support and malware protection, among other features.

Though offered for free, Chrome is a pivotal part of Google's efforts to keep its search traffic acquisition costs down (especially on iOS). StatCounter estimates Chrome's global browser shares is now at 43.6%.

Google has bought a 182MW Texas wind farm for $75M as part of its efforts to be carbon-neutral. Google committed to buying 240MW of power from another Texas wind farm last year, and has also been making solar investments.

Opinions abound on how newly-acquired Nest could benefit Google. Some oft-expressed views: 1) Nest's engineers and intelligent home hardware can provide Google with A.I. expertise that complements its robotics efforts. 2) Nest's hardware can provide valuable data on home activity (though Nest insists its data will only be used to improve its products). 3) Nest and its dozens of ex-Apple employees provide Google with a top-notch consumer hardware team.