Thu, Apr. 2, 2:25 AM
- Europe's competition regulator is preparing the groundwork to file charges against Google (GOOG, GOOGL) in the next few weeks, looking to conclude the five-year-old antitrust investigation of the Internet-search giant.
- The move would kick off the EU's highest-profile antitrust suit since its lengthy campaign that started a decade ago against Microsoft, which paid the bloc €1.7B in fines through 2012.
- To complete the probe, the European Commission is now asking companies that filed complaints against Google for permission to publish some of the information they submitted confidentially.
- Previously: EU lawmakers vote for Google breakup (Nov. 27 2014)
Tue, Mar. 31, 2:04 PM
- Google's (GOOG -0.1%) Chromebit, launching this summer in partnership with Asus (OTC:ASUUY) for "less than $100," allows any TV or monitor with an HDMI port to be turned into a Chrome OS PC by plugging in a flash drive-like stick. It arrives two years after Google launched its $35 Chromecast HDMI streaming stick.
- Also unveiled: 1) $149 Chromebooks from China's Haier and Hisense; the notebooks are respectively sold by Amazon and Wal-mart, feature 11.6" displays and quad-core ARM CPUs from China's Rockchip, and are declared to provide all-day battery life. 2) Asus' Chromebook Flip, a $249 all-metal touchscreen notebook; it arrives later this spring.
- IDC estimates Chrome OS, whose success has been the matter of much debate, accounted for 3.5% of 2014 global PC shipments and 29.9% of U.S. education market shipments.
- Separately, Google has launched new app install ad options for Android developers looking to promote their apps. Ads can now appear on the Google Display Network (supported by 2M publisher sites), and support for in-app ads has been expanded to include video ads.
- Google already shows app install ads in mobile search results, as well as through its AdMob unit's display ad network and (more recently) within Google Play. Facebook, which still leads the market, recently announced it had driven over 1M downloads through its app install ads.
Fri, Mar. 27, 9:54 AM
- Johnson & Johnson (JNJ +0.5%) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) establish a collaboration to develop a robotic-assisted surgery program. Terms are not disclosed.
- J&J Chairman Gary Pruden says, "This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care."
- Robotic-assisted surgery, led by Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) with its da Vinci systems, is forecasted to grow at a double-digit rate through at least 2020, according to iData Research.
Fri, Mar. 27, 2:36 AM
- Ruth Porat, who said earlier this week she would leave her job as Morgan Stanley's (NYSE:MS) finance chief to take the same role at Google (GOOG, GOOGL), will be paid more than $70M in the next two years through a combination of restricted stock units and a biennial grant.
- She will also make more than most Wall Street CEOs, including her old boss, Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman, who was paid $18M in 2013.
- Google's outgoing CFO Patrick Pichette was paid $62.2M for the three years through 2013.
- Previously: Google hires new CFO from Morgan Stanley (Mar. 24 2015)
Thu, Mar. 26, 6:59 PM
- Though Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are squaring off more than ever following yesterday's Facebook F8 conference product launches, none of it is intentional, insists Mark Zuckerberg in a Wired interview.
- Zuck: "To the extent that we are doing measurement and Google did measurement, that’s just because Google is smart and they also realize that measurement is valuable ... Same on the video front ... we are not thinking about how we are competing with YouTube. We are thinking about how are we going to make it more useful for people to share stuff on Facebook."
- Facebook's launch of a mobile ad exchange (competes against Google's DoubleClick, leverages Facebook data) and embedded video support (YouTube dominates video embeds) has led to more than a few headlines declaring Facebook is out to take Google's lunch. The companies already compete in multiple ad markets.
- On the mobile ad exchange front, at least, the competitive overlap might be less than some think. As Foreester's Jim Nail observes, DoubleClick's exchange, much like Google search, focuses on intent-based advertising (i.e. ads for items users have recently expressed interest in), while Facebook's natural strength is targeting based on a user's historical likes.
- Other Facebook F8 news: 1) Facebook has provided details about Aquila, a solar-powered drone that will have a wingspan similar to a Boeing 767, and be used lasers to beam Web access to underserved regions. Google bought drone maker Titan Aerospace last year. 2) Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash promises big things for virtual reality, once tech challenges are resolved. "Virtual reality -- done right -- truly is reality as far as the observer is concerned ... It's clear that VR has the potential to change almost everything about the way we live."
- Yesterday: Zuck shares stats, launches Messenger app platform
Wed, Mar. 25, 3:18 PM
- Continuing its flurry of F8 conference announcements, Facebook (FB -2.5%) states publishers will now be able to embed videos on other sites; all they have to do is click on an "embed" button and copy/paste some code. The move makes Facebook a bigger threat to YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG); it's already a major indirect rival to the online video giant.
- Confirming a recent Bloomberg report, Facebook is launching (via its LiveRail video ad unit) a mobile ad exchange that lets 3rd-party publishers sell both display and video ads with the help of Facebook data. The solution takes aim at Google's DoubleClick and Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) MoPub units.
- Facebook's Parse mobile developer tool unit has launched SDKs for creating apps that run on embedded/wearable devices (the proverbial Internet of Things). Meanwhile, Facebook proper is showing off Analytics for Apps,a dashboard that provides stats on how a Facebook-enabled app is being used (and who's using it) across multiple platforms; the solution includes tools for measuring ad performance.
- Disclosed: 1) Native ad formats account for over half of all Facebook Audience Network (mobile ad network, launched last year) ads. 2) Over 400K developers now use Parse's tools. 3) Over 1B apps have now been installed via Facebook's app install ads.
- After getting a brief bounce, Facebook has sold off to new intraday lows. The Nasdaq is now down 1.9%.
- Earlier: Zuck shares stats, launches Messenger app platform at Facebook's F8
Tue, Mar. 24, 9:18 AM
- Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) CFO Ruth Porat has been named Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new CFO, effective May 26.
- Porat, 57, has been Morgan Stanley's CFO since 2009. Before that, she was the company''s vice chair of investment banking. In 2013, Porat was rumored to be in the running for deputy Treasury secretary, before withdrawing her name from the race.
- News of her hiring comes two weeks after Google announced long-time CFO Patrick Pichette is retiring. Many investors have been hoping a new CFO will sign off on dividends and/or buybacks - Morgan Stanley has a history of providing both during Porat's tenure as CFO.
- GOOG +1.1% premarket to $565.00.
Mon, Mar. 23, 1:30 PM
- Though there have been plenty of breathless headlines declaring Glass a failure following Google's (GOOG - unchanged) decision to stop selling the $1,500 Explorer Edition of its display glasses, Eric Schmidt has reiterated his company's commitment to the platform.
- Schmidt: "[Glass] is a big and very fundamental platform for Google ... We ended the Explorer program and the press conflated this into us canceling the whole project, which isn’t true ... That’s like saying the self-driving car is a disappointment because it’s not driving me around now."
- In tandem with the end of Explorer Edition sales, Google has put Nest Labs CEO/ex-iPod chief Tony Fadell in charge of Glass strategy. Former marketing exec Ivy Ross still directly oversees Glass, which has had its share of bad PR.
- While the initial consumer reception for Glass hasn't gone as planned, plenty of businesses/institutions have come up with use cases, and a healthy number of Glass apps have been developed. The WSJ has reported a new Glass model (likely featuring a much lower price point) is expected later this year. Himax (HIMX -0.4%) is expected to remain Glass' microdisplay supplier
- Separately, Google has begun testing Fiber TV ads that can be targeted based on "geography, the type of program being shown (eg, sports or news), or viewing history." Users can opt out of seeing ads based on viewing history.
- The effort could deliver a level of personalization that can't be provided by traditional TV ads, and also better measurement than Nielsen's (NLSN) widely-used ratings system. Of course, Google's success in penetrating the broader TV ad market (worth ~$70B/year in the U.S. alone) will depend on offering solutions that can work with (and are adopted by) 3rd-party pay-TV providers.
Fri, Mar. 20, 2:15 PM
- The 3G-only Lumia 430 is Microsoft's (MSFT +1.4%) cheapest Windows Phone to date. It has a 4" 800x480 display and 8GB of storage, runs on Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) low-end Snapdragon 200 processor (dual-core, 1.2GHz.), and contains a 2MP rear camera to go with a VGA front camera.
- The 430, which goes on sale in April, also supports dual SIMs (important for emerging markets) and comes with up to 30GB of free OneDrive cloud storage. Its unveiling arrives three weeks after Microsoft launched the mid-range Lumia 640 and 640XL, and four months after it launched the low-end Lumia 535 (5" display and 3G-only, starts at €110).
- Low-end devices are believed to account for a big portion of the 10.5M Lumias Microsoft sold in calendar Q4. While costlier Lumias have struggled to gain ground against the iPhone and high-end Android hardware (thanks in part to iOS/Android's app support edge), cheaper models have fared well in many cost-sensitive emerging markets. The 430 aims to significantly lower the cost edge the cheapest Android devices still have.
- IDC estimates Windows Phone had a 2.8% global smartphone unit share in Q4 vs. 76.6% for Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) and 19.7% for the iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Fri, Mar. 20, 11:10 AM
- A self-driving car from Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) would be considered legal in 45 states at the moment, according to analysis from Wired.
- That 90% ratio is expected to change.
- The self-driving issue is likely to be teed up politicians and regulators over the next year as Tesla's new software update pushes up the timetable on the autonomous car concept.
- In Germany, for example, an explicit ban exists on autonomous driving.
- Another riveting puzzle: How does the software code get tested?
- There's also the question of what the insurance industry will have to say about the burgeoning technology and how much advanced sensor components will cost.
- Automobile experts think some functions such as self-parking, car retrieval features, and collision prevention technology will be approved federally and locally - while the full Muskonian dream may be a reach.
- BMW (OTCPK:BAMXY), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Audi (OTCQX:VLKAY), Mercedes-Benz (OTCPK:DDAIF), and Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) are the other companies/brands out in front with self-driving car development.
- The Detroit Three (GM, F, FCAU) are mainly just kicking the tires on the concept.
- Previously: Tesla Motors talks range and self-driving features (Mar. 19 2015)
Thu, Mar. 19, 10:05 AM
- With Apple Watch set to ship next month, leading high-end Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer plans to launch a watch that runs on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Wear platform, and is powered by an Intel (INTC +0.1%) CPU.
- The PR provides few details about the watch, but Reuters reports the product will be a version of Tag's bestselling Carrera line, and launch next autumn. With Carerra watches often priced above $2K, the deal will likely be more valuable to Intel as a reference win - the vast majority of early smartwatch launches have involved ARM-based CPUs - than as a revenue-generator.
- Intel is going after the wearables market by pitching its Atom CPUs for relatively powerful devices, and its tiny Quark CPUs for less resource-hungry products where battery life is a priority. It has also launched Curie, a button-sized module containing a Quark CPU, flash memory, Bluetooth radio, and sensor hub. The company has a partnership with eyewear giant Luxottica, and has reportedly landed a design win for the next version of Google Glass.
- Separately, IBM (IBM +0.2%) has announced the first OpenPower servers - servers running on IBM's Power CPUs (compete against Intel's Xeon line), but which can be made by 3rd-party OEMs and could sell for much less than IBM's Power-based servers historically have - will launch in Q2 and be sold by Taiwanese manufacturer Tyan. IBM plans to offer its own OpenPower servers later this year in partnership with Taiwan's Wistron; they'll be aimed at the high-performance computing (HPC) market.
- Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, and Rackspace are among the companies that have given their support to OpenPower. IBM is both hoping to halt Power's long-term share losses to Intel, and grab a bigger share of an Internet/white-box server market (dominated by Intel systems) that accounts for a large and growing portion of global server spend.
Wed, Mar. 11, 6:16 AM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has opened its first-ever branded store, to be called The Google shop, which will be based on London's Tottenham Court Road – a street packed with tech and gadget retailers.
- The store will sell the company's range of Android phones and wearables, tablets, Chromebook laptops, and Chromecast TV services.
- Two more Google Shops are set to open later this year.
Wed, Mar. 11, 4:10 AM
- Google (GOOG, GOOGL) is in talks to buy Bangalore-based start-up InMobi, a mobile advertising network that claims to have over 1B users across 200 countries.
- Although financial specifics are still to be discussed, InMobi had been looking for a valuation of over $2B in its discussions with investors for its next round of funding.
Tue, Mar. 10, 4:43 PM
- Patrick Pichette, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) CFO since 2008, has "informed the company of his intent to retire." No retirement date has been set. (8-K filing)
- Pichette plans to assist Google in its search for a successor; the company expects a transition to a new CFO to "occur within the next six months." The news comes less than a year after chief business officer Nikesh Arora left for SoftBank.
- GOOG -0.4% AH to $552.56.
Tue, Mar. 10, 12:51 PM
- ChannelAdvisor (ECOM -3.6%) clients saw their Amazon (AMZN -2.1%) same-store sales rise 22.7% Y/Y in February. That's down from January 27%, and also below the growth seen during 9 of the prior 10 months (December being the exception). Growth peaked at 45.1% in August.
- 38% of tracked Amazon sales relied on Amazon's fulfillment services (FBA), up from 32.2% a year earlier. 2.3% of sales relying on FBA involved non-Amazon transactions. Amazon stated in its Q4 report 3rd-party sellers using FBA grew 65% in 2014, and made up over 40% of Q4 3rd-party units.
- eBay (EBAY -2.5%) continues to lose share: Its ChannelAdvisor same-store sales grew 5.1% in February, down from January's 6.8% and below total U.S. e-commerce growth of 15% (per comScore) - auctions -26.2%, fixed-pride +8.6%, Motors +25.2%. eBay is coming off a Q4 in which its Marketplaces GMV only rose 2% Y/Y (3% U.S. growth, 1% international).
- Search ad-based same-store sales (largely involving Google ads) rose 10.7%, with rising clicks and orders offsetting declining ad prices. Google Shopping-related (NASDAQ:GOOG) same-store sales grew 20.7%.
- Amazon and eBay are both underperforming on a down day for equities. Amazon's volume has been below-average, and eBay's above-average.
Sat, Mar. 7, 2:17 PM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has "assembled a team of engineers to build a version of the Android operating system to power virtual-reality applications," two sources tell the WSJ. "Tens of engineers" are said to be working on the project, which was launched in the wake of Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) $2B 2014 acquisition of early VR hardware/software leader Oculus.
- The report comes as industry investments in VR platforms accelerate rapidly. In addition to Facebook/Oculus, Sony, HTC, and multiple startups have projects in various stages of development. Sony just promised its gaming-focused Morpheus VR headset would launch in 1H16; HTC showed off its Vive headset at the Mobile World Congress.
- Last year, Google launched Cardboard, a cheap prototype kit meant to get developers to start writing VR apps for Android. Oculus, meanwhile, has partnered with Samsung to launch the Gear VR, a headset line that relies on Samsung (Android) phones to provide the device's display and camera; a full commercial launch is expected later this year. Oculus has also bought multiple startups to help maintain its tech lead.
- "Virtual reality is bigger than gaming," Oculus CTO John Carmack proclaimed at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC). Mark Zuckerberg at the time of the Oculus deal announcement: "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles ... Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.'
- GPU leaders Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and AMD are also going after the opportunity: Nvidia used GDC to show off several VR game demos powered by its GPUs; its Maxwell GPU line has already been optimized for VR. AMD used GDC to launch LiquidVR, a VR developer SDK for its GPUs that improves head-tracking and reduces latency/stuttering, and by doing so aims to eliminate motion sickness (still a common user complaint).
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