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Jul. 14, 2015, 2:28 PM
- New Google (GOOG +3.3%, GOOGL +2.9%) CFO Ruth Porat is "involved in an internal audit examining costs, revenue and accounting systems," the WSJ reports ahead of the Web giant's Thursday Q2 report.
- The WSJ also states Google execs are now selecting which teams are allowed to hire new workers - in prior years, teams assumed they could add new staff each year. Moreover, travel, supplies, and events "all require more justification or approvals than in the past," according to two sources.
- Google's Q1 numbers already suggested the company is slowing down its oft-criticized spending pace: Operating expenses fell to 35% of revenue from 37% in Q4 and Q1 2014. Capex still rose 25% Y/Y to $2.93B.
- Also: Cowen's John Blackledge is out with a bullish note. He reports U.S. search marketing firm EliteSEM saw its clients' Google ad spend rise 15%-20% Y/Y in Q2, as strong mobile ad growth offset "flattish" PC spending. Blackledge: "Despite declining Desktop search volumes, paid clicks are still doing very well as Google continues to innovate and improve overall conversion." He predicts mobile ad prices will reach parity with PC prices "at some point in 2016."
- Google is one of the better large-cap tech performers on a day the Nasdaq is up 0.8%. Class A shares (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are up 11% YTD; Class C shares (NASDAQ:GOOG) are up 7%.
Jul. 10, 2015, 1:19 PM
- Believing YouTube and Google Play will make up 15% of the company's 2015 gross revenue (up from just 4% in 2010) and grow to 24% by 2020, Credit Suisse's Stephen Ju has hiked his Google (GOOG, GOOGL) target by $10 to $700, while reiterating an Outperform.
- Ju respectively forecasts 2015 YouTube and Play gross revenue of $6B and $5.1B in 2015, and ~$16B and ~$14B in 2020, with margins/profitability improving as sales grow. Of note: Net revenue is much lower than gross, given YouTube provides a 55% cut to content partners and Google Play a 70% cut to developers.
- He adds "extensive checks with industry sources" lead him to "assume a steeper gross profit dollar growth trajectory for YouTube" thanks to adoption of its recently-launched TrueView ad format, which lets users learn about/buy products shown in video ads. An ad-free subscription service is in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Facebook has been taking a number of steps to encroach on YouTube's turf.
- Separately, The Information reports Google is working with Huawei on a next-gen Nexus phone due this fall, as well as on a Chinese app store. Local Web giants Baidu, Qihoo, and Tencent currently dominate the Chinese Android app store market. Chinese developers are able to upload apps to Google Play, but only for international distribution.
- Google is outperforming on a day the Nasdaq is up 1.3%. Q2 results arrive on July 16.
Jul. 8, 2015, 5:33 PM
- 9to5 Google reports the first commercial Google Glass (NASDAQ:GOOG) model features "a larger prism display, as well as an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Atom processor that brings better performance and moderately improved battery life." Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi.
- The site adds Google is internally referring to the Glass model as Enterprise Edition. Many businesses and institutions have come up with potential uses for Glass, even as consumer attitudes towards the product remain quite mixed, thanks in large part to the privacy concerns caused by its camera.
- Still no word on the model's pricing or official launch date. It's expected to be much cheaper than the $1,500 charged for the Explorer edition of Glass, which Google stopped selling earlier this year.
- A larger display could provide an ASP boost for Glass microdisplay supplier Himax (NASDAQ:HIMX). The WSJ reported last fall Intel would provide the CPU for a next-gen Glass model.
Jul. 1, 2015, 7:23 PM
- Furthering its efforts to challenge YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG) as a video hub, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) plans to roll out Suggested Videos, a feature that (using an algorithm) recommends new videos for a user to watch that are related to one just seen. The feature will be tested for "a few months" before fully launching.
- In addition, starting in the fall, Facebook plans to give content providers such as the NBA and Fox Sports a 55% revenue cut (on par with YouTube's) for ads run against Suggested Videos. The news comes a day after Facebook began giving advertisers the option to only pay for video ads that have been watched for at least 10 seconds, and less than two months after the launch of Instant Articles, for which Facebook is allowing publishers to keep all of the ad revenue produced by their content.
- With over 4B daily views for its autoplay videos and plenty of high-profile publishers sharing videos with followers, Facebook has already become a major indirect threat to YouTube, even if its video library and discovery features aren't yet comparable. In recent months, the company has begun letting users embed hosted videos on other sites, and has also added a Videos tab for Facebook Pages.
- Last month, RBC predicted video ads (carry much higher per-view prices than display ads) would account for a majority of Facebook's ad revenue over the long run. Video ad tech platform LiveRail was acquired last summer.
Jun. 29, 2015, 5:24 PM
- Confirming a recent Bloomberg report, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) states AOL, just acquired by Verizon (NYSE:VZ), will "assume management and sales responsibility for all of Microsoft's display, mobile and video advertising inventory in nine key global markets -- the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan."
- AOL will handle ad inventory for MSN, Outlook Mail, Xbox, Skype, mobile apps, and other Microsoft properties. The WSJ reports "Microsoft’s roughly 1,200 advertising employees — from engineering to sales — will be getting offer letters to join AOL."
- In addition, AOL and Microsoft have signed a 10-year search/search ad pact that will make Bing AOL's search provider, starting Jan. 1, 2016. AOL has thus far been relying on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) search. AOL's search ops had Q1 revenue of $116.4M (+19% Y/Y), and 2014 revenue of $402.6M (+4%).
Jun. 29, 2015, 10:17 AM
- The Supreme Court has ruled Oracle (ORCL -0.4%) can press claims Google (GOOG -1%) infringed its copyrights by using Java APIs within Android, turning down a request by Google to hear the case. The dispute will now return to a lower court.
- Oracle has sought over $1B in damages. Though a district court jury cleared Google in 2012 of infringing 8 Oracle patents, it ruled Google infringed Oracle copyrights. A federal appeals court later declared Oracle's code is eligible for copyright protection, sending the case back to the district court. Google had appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
- Google, backed by Yahoo, Red Hat, and HP, has argued granting Oracle's code copyright protection will prevent developers from building on top of past software innovations. Oracle, backed by Microsoft, EMC, and NetApp, has accused Google of plagiarizing its code.
- Update: Some more Google news: The EU is now giving Google until Aug. 17 to respond to antitrust charges. The WSJ recently reported the EU wants major changes to Google's shopping search rankings.
Jun. 23, 2015, 12:52 PM
- Much like Songza (acquired in 2014), Google's (GOOG +0.1%) free Play Music service streams playlists curated by human editors.
- In addition, an ad-free version of the service is being baked into the $10/month Play Music subscription service (formerly called All Access), which supports on-demand streaming of 30M+ songs and (via YouTube Music Key, still officially in beta) ad-free YouTube music video access.
- Google: "Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to ... you can browse our curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or you can search for your favorite artist, album or song to instantly create a station of similar music."
- Spotify provides free/ad-supported playlist streams on mobile, along with ad-supported on-demand access to songs on PCs. Apple Music, which will only be available on a subscription basis, heavily emphasizes human curation.
- As is often the case when news regarding a music service from a tech giant emerges, Pandora (P -1.3%) has moved lower.
Jun. 19, 2015, 3:58 PM
- The EU sent Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) a lengthy formal charge sheet in April that contained demands for sweeping changes to shopping rankings, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
- The charge demands the the search giant use the "same underlying processes and methods" when displaying rival shopping comparisons, and threatens the company could face fines for alleged past antitrust violations.
- The demands go beyond what Google proposed to the European Commission (the antitrust authority) last year, and cover 12 countries impacted by Google's approach dating back to 2008.
- Several affected competitors said they would look more favorably on the new solution compared to past settlements. Google has a few weeks to respond and can still request an oral hearing.
Jun. 19, 2015, 10:40 AM
- Unconfirmed Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) buyout chatter is propelling Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) higher. In the past, shares have also risen on rumors (later shot down) that Carl Icahn has taken a stake.
- Speculation that Google could bid for the microblogging platform has been around for a while. Twitter's recent selloff, search/ad integration deals with Google, and Dick Costolo's resignation have fanned the flames.
- With a current market cap of $23.7B - a buyout offer might need to be above $30B - Twitter would represent a big acquisition even by Google's standards.
- Update: Some more Twitter news on a busy week: The company is testing dedicated pages that "surface and organize relevant Tweets about products and places," as well as ones that allow "people and brands to create and share Twitter collections of products and places." HBO, Nike, and Target are among the initial adopters of the latter feature. Buy buttons are supported.
Jun. 17, 2015, 6:26 PM
- Nearly 18 months after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced it's buying leading smart thermostat/smoke detector maker Nest Labs for $3.2B, and 12 months after Nest struck a $555M deal to buy home camera maker Dropcam, Nest has refreshed its hardware and software lineup.
- Among the new products: A second-gen Nest Protect smoke detector featuring a sensor that can recognize shorter wavelengths, and thus detect smoke more quickly. The Protect, which goes for $99, is also now 11% smaller and easier to install.
- The Nest Cam home camera - Nest appears to be phasing out the Dropcam brand - is priced at $199 and supports Wi-Fi streams that can be remotely viewed on a PC or iOS/Android phone, and also (through a subscription service) stored in the cloud, much like the older Dropcam Pro. However, streaming resolution has been upped to 1080p from 720p, the stand has been overhauled to support more surfaces, night vision and motion detection are improved, and the product integrates with the Protect to send alerts (and let users start watching) when the Protect detects smoke.
- Meanwhile, the Nest Learning Thermostat is getting a software update that adds safety/emergency alerts and an emergency shutoff feature for a home's heating/cooling systems. The Nest iOS/Android app has been updated to let users control all Nest/Dropcam devices.
- Nest continues to be run by iPod "godfather" Tony Fadell. Fadell is now also overseeing Google's Glass development efforts.
Jun. 12, 2015, 3:14 PM
- YouTube Gaming provides a dedicated app and site for all of the online video giant's gaming content, whether livestreamed or previously uploaded. The service will launch this summer, beginning in the U.S. and U.K.
- Over 25K games will have dedicated pages/channels sporting related video content. YouTube (GOOG -0.7%), which has over 1B monthly active users and now gets over half its video views from mobile, is looking to steal some of game livestreaming leader Twitch's thunder. Twitch was acquired by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) last year after reportedly holding buyout talks with Google; it had over 100M monthly viewers as of December, up from 45M a year earlier.
- Separately, Google has been receiving a large amount of positive ink for Now on Tap (recently unveiled at Google I/O, ships with Android M), which lets users pull up info and content related to whatever appears on their screens (including content in 3rd-party apps) by pressing and holding the home button.
- Backchannel's Steven Levy observes Now on Tap, which leverages Google's huge machine learning investments to analyze content, is effectively bringing search to apps, thereby helping address the threat posed by app usage to Google's search ad cash-cow. "Liberated from the search box, Google wants to be your constant companion, ready with a search result whenever you ask and even when you don’t."
- Now on Tap could also serve as a selling point for Android, given it requires a level of hardware and OS access that Apple has never provided for iOS devices. Apple unveiled its Proactive assistant/Google Now rival earlier this week at WWDC.
Jun. 12, 2015, 6:02 AM
- French regulators have ordered Google (GOOG, GOOGL) to remove information from all versions of its search engine, not just European ones, when users request to scrub results under "right to be forgotten" rules.
- Looking to avoid creating the precedent that one region can set global rules for the Internet, Google executives have repeatedly stated they should only remove links from the European versions of its search engine, not Google.com etc.
- Google now has 15 days to comply with the ruling, or risks facing sanctions.
Jun. 7, 2015, 6:45 AM
- Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new mobile phone payment service, Android Pay, will not garner any transaction fees from credit card companies, WSJ reports, possibly putting pressure on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to drop or lower its charges for Apple Pay.
- Dominant payment networks, Visa (NYSE:V) MasterCard (NYSE:MA), recently standardized their "tokenization" card-security service and made it free, preventing payment services from charging fees to issuers.
- "This is a bold move on behalf of the banks," said Rick Oglesby, head of research at Double Diamond Payments Research. After agreeing to Apple's terms for Apple Pay, "they’re now taking a stand against similar deals. It could easily turn into a standoff."
- Apple Pay currently receives 0.15% of the value of each credit card transaction and collects a half-cent per purchase on bank debit cards.
- Previously: Apple poised to bring Apple Pay to the U.K. - Telegraph (Jun. 06 2015)
Jun. 4, 2015, 6:25 AM
- After thirteen months in the position, Chris O’Neill, the business chief for Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Glass, is stepping down, although he will still be staying with the company.
- Separately, Sergey Brin said one of the company's driverless car has been involved in another rear-end accident, bringing the total number of accidents over the last six years of testing to 12.
- Defending the prospects for the self-driving technology, Brin said he's "very proud of the record of the cars" and his goal is to "beat human drivers."
May 28, 2015, 2:17 PM
- Google (GOOG - unchanged) has kicked off its I/O conference with a flurry of product launches. Among them: Android Pay, a replacement for the Google Wallet Android app that handles both in-app and in-store/NFC payments. Google states 7 out of 10 Android devices currently support Pay, and that 700K U.S. stores are able to accept it. (live blog)
- Android M, expected later this year, will be a nuts-and-bolts OS update rather than a major overhaul. Product chief Sundar Pichai: "We've really focused on polish and quality, we've literally solved thousands of bugs." New features include Android Pay, better app permission controls, deep linking between apps, and custom Chrome tabs within apps.
- Brillo, the Android-based IoT OS rumored to be in the pipeline, will launch in Q3. The OS is promised to be very resource-efficient, and will be accompanied by a communications software stack called Weave that lets Brillo devices easily interact with each other (as well as phones).
- Google's cloud photo service (previously buried within Google+) will now be provided through a standalone Photos app; it uses machine learning to organize pictures by people, places, and things. Notably, Google will be providing free, unlimited, cloud storage for photos and videos; photo resolution is limited to 16MP, and video to 1080p.
- As Apple reportedly preps a Google Now rival, Google is launching Now on Tap, a feature that brings up Now cards related to whatever is on a user's screen by long-pressing the home button. Now will also handle voice searches that take into account the content a user is viewing.
- Some shared stats: 1) Android, Chrome, YouTube, and search each have over 1B monthly active users; Gmail is at 900M. 2) 17M Chromecast HDMI sticks have been sold. 3) Over 4K apps have been developed for Android Wear. 4) 35 auto brands support Android Auto.
- Update: A couple more announcements: 1) Google Maps is being updated to support offline search and navigation. 2) The Cardboard virtual reality platform (aimed at developers for now) has been extended to iOS.
May 27, 2015, 2:18 PM
- 9to5 Mac reports Apple (AAPL +1.8%) is "readying a major new iOS initiative codenamed 'Proactive,' which will leverage Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to create a viable competitor to Google Now (GOOG +1.1%)."
- Proactive will reportedly replace Apple's Spotlight search feature - a dedicated search bar will be included - and be placed to the left of a user's Home screen. Like Now, it will rely on data from various apps to push timely info to a user. The service will also integrate with Apple Maps to "display personally relevant points of interest using an augmented reality interface," and have a UI that "automatically populates with content based around three key parts of iOS: Apps, Contacts, and Maps."
- Also: 1) In addition to an augmented reality view, Maps will be given a "Browse Around Me" button that shows points of interest on an overhead map. 2) A Siri API codenamed Breadcrumbs will be provided to 3rd-party developers; its features will be limited due to privacy concerns.
- The report comes less than a year after Apple replaced Google with Bing as Spotlight's default search provider via iOS 8; Google remains the Safari browser's default provider. Sources tell 9to5 Google's iOS traffic has dropped since the iOS 8 launch.
- Other news: 1) Google announces it's updating its iOS search app (features Now) to integrate with and pull data from 3rd-party apps such as OpenTable; its Android search app already supports this. 2) During a Code Conference talk, Apple operations chief Jeff Williams states Apple Watch developers will soon be able to write native apps (iPhone app pairing is currently required) and have direct sensor access. 3) CBS CEO Les Moonves says he recently met with Apple to do a TV service deal, and that a deal will "probably" happen.
- Update: During his talk, Williams also provided more grist for Apple car rumors by declaring the car to be "the ultimate mobile device."
Alphabet Inc through its subsidiary Google Inc is engaged in improving the ways people connect with information & products including Search, Android, YouTube, Apps, Maps & Ads. It also produces internet-connected home devices & provides internet services.
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