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Google Inc. (GOOG)

  • Nov. 21, 2014, 2:33 PM
    • An EU parliament draft motion seen by the FT says the  "unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services" should be considered a potential solution to dealing with Google's (GOOG +0.4%) market dominance.
    • The European People's Party and the Socialists, the parliament's two main political blocs, are said to back the motion. German politicians - many of whom have been harsh Google critics - hold considerable sway within the parliament.
    • The FT notes that while the parliament has no legal authority to break up a company, it has "increasing influence" on the EC, which initiates all EU legislation.
    • The report follows intense local criticism of Google's search antitrust settlement with the EU. New EU antitrust regulator Günther Oettinger has signaled he'll take a harder line with Google than predecessor Joaquin Almunia.
    • Eric Schmidt defended Google against its European critics in Berlin last month. Almunia, meanwhile, has suggested the backlash to his handling of Google partly stems from fears European tech companies have fallen behind U.S. rivals. "I don’t remember any case…that triggered…this kind of reaction, even of [a] smaller size."
  • Nov. 19, 2014, 5:20 PM
    • Per the terms of a new 5-year deal with Mozilla, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), whose search engine is powered by Bing (NASDAQ:MSFT), will provide "the default search experience for Firefox in the United States on mobile and desktop." The deal also "provides a framework for exploring future product integrations and distribution opportunities to other markets."
    • No word on revenue-sharing terms. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has long been Firefox's default search provider. Google's deal was last renewed in 2011, apparently on more favorable terms to Mozilla.
    • Though its browser share has fallen in recent years, thanks to both Chrome's gains and a relatively weak mobile position, StatCounter estimates Firefox still has a 12% combined PC/mobile/console browser share globally. Chrome's share is at 41%, and Internet Explorer's at 13%.
    • StatCounter puts Yahoo and Bing's combined global search share at just 7.4%. However, comScore puts their combined U.S. PC search share at 29.8%.
    • YHOO +0.8% AH.
  • Nov. 19, 2014, 12:37 PM
    • Google (GOOG +0.1%) plans to finally launch the Google Play app store in China, The Information reports. By doing so, Google hopes to grow its mobile clout in a market believed to account for roughly half of Android's 1B+ global users, but in which Google apps/services are often non-existent on Android devices.
    • Google famously shut down in 2010 rather than continue censoring its search results, but still maintains R&D and ad sales offices in China. In addition, many Chinese developers have published apps on Play's international app stores to reel in non-Chinese users. Apple has had a Chinese App Store in place for years.
    • When Play arrives in China, it will face competition from Qihoo (QIHU -2.9%) and Baidu/91 Wireless' well-established Android app stores, as well as from Tencent. Qihoo shares have slumped following The Information's report.
  • Nov. 14, 2014, 6:06 PM
    • 2015 is "now the most likely date" for Google Glass' (NASDAQ:GOOG) full commercial launch, Reuters reports in a story about tempered expectations for the display glasses.
    • Glass was once expected to see an early-2014 commercial launch. For now, only a $1,500 Explorer Edition is available.
    • 9 of the 16 Glass developers contacted by Reuters said had "stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device." Meanwhile, Google has seen several key Glass employees leave the company in recent months, including lead developer Babak Parviz and engineering chief Adrian Wong.
    • "We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch," insists Glass business operations chief Chris O'Neill. While the glasses have some well-known image issues among consumers, businesses and government agencies have been coming up with many potential use cases.
    • Last month, Google told Glass LCoS microdisplay supplier Himax (NASDAQ:HIMX) it won't be making a follow-on investment in Himax's LCoS subsidiary. However, Himax insists it maintains a "close partnership" with Google.
  • Nov. 12, 2014, 1:41 PM
    • Music Key, YouTube's (GOOG -0.5%) much-delayed foray into the subscription music world, will launch on Monday in invite-only mode. The announcement comes after YouTube finally reached a licensing deal with Merlin, which represents thousands of indie labels.
    • As expected, the service provides ad-free access to YouTube music videos, both for official and user-uploaded content. It also gives listeners (thanks to the bundling of Google's existing All Access music service) audio-only playback and offline storage support.
    • Music Key will be available for free in invite-only mode for six months. Afterwards, YouTube will initially offer a promotional lifetime price of $7.99/month, and subsequently charge $9.99/month, thus matching Spotify (12.5M paid users, 50M total) and many other rivals.
    • Apple is reportedly trying to get music labels to agree to fee cuts that would allow it to offer a revamped Beats Music streaming service at a lower price.
    • The inclusion of music video support, together with YouTube's giant reach - it has 1B+ active users - should make Music Key a tougher rival to Spotify than All Access. YouTube's offering might also be a precursor to an ad-free subscription option for the entire site.
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  • Nov. 12, 2014, 10:34 AM
    • DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), which serves display ads for thousands of big sites, has suffered a major outage for the first time in years. The WSJ, BBC, Mashable, Business Insider, and Seeking Alpha are among the sites witnessing outages.
    • A Google spokesperson: "We’re addressing as a “P0" extremely critical issue across DFP.  We don’t have a timeline at this moment but I hope to have a timeline/resolution very soon."
    • Thanks to its DoubleClick, AdSense (contextual/targeted ad), and AdMob (mobile ad) units, Google (GOOG -0.4%) maintains a dominant position in the 3rd-party publisher display ad market. Facebook recently took aim at DoubleClick by launching a revamped version of its Atlas ad-serving/measurement platform that can leverage Facebook data.
    • Update (11:07AM): DFP ads are once more appearing on sites.
  • Nov. 11, 2014, 2:17 AM
    • Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has taken a 60-year lease on a NASA airfield next to its Silicon Valley headquarters, where it plans to renovate three large hangars and use them for projects involving aviation, space exploration and robotics.
    • Google plans to invest more than $200M to refurbish the hangars, which will be used by its subsidiary Planetary Ventures.
    • NASA says the deal will bring in $1.16B in rents over its 60-year life and save $6.3M a year in operating costs.
  • Nov. 4, 2014, 3:01 PM
    • Google's (GOOG -0.3%) has once more aggressively slashed cloud infrastructure (IaaS) prices in an attempt to gain ground against 800-lb. gorilla Amazon (AMZN -1.1%). Price cuts covers SSD, database, disk snapshot, storage, and networking services, and range from 23%-79%.
    • Google, which likely has the most infrastructure scale of any IaaS provider (if one counts its broader Web services ops), has said it wants cloud pricing to fall at a pace equal to Moore's Law; that implies a halving every 18 months. It cut prices in March for both its core computing service (Compute Engine) and other offerings, and more recently gave Compute Engine another 10% cut.
    • The Web giant has also launched several new IaaS services today, with a focus on countering Amazon (widely seen as having a feature set lead) by catering to developer needs. The service getting the most attention is Container Engine, which allows users to manage and provision server clusters running Docker containers. Containers act as lightweight alternatives to virtual machines, and are quickly growing in popularity.
    • Also launching: 1) Three new network connectivity options meant to improve access to Google's fiber network' Amazon and Microsoft have made similar moves. 2) New features for the recently-launched Managed VM service, which combines the software flexibility of IaaS services with the ease-of-use of the App Engine cloud app (PaaS) platform. 3) Automatic resource scaling for Compute Engine virtual machines. 4) The integration of newly-acquired Firebase's mobile/Web app developer tools.
    • Amazon quickly responded to Google's March price cuts, and might do the same this time. Synergy Research recently estimated Amazon still had a 27% combined IaaS/PaaS share in Q3, more than twice that of any rival. Google was ranked #4, behind Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.
    • Meanwhile, Amazon has decided to give Prime subs unlimited cloud storage for photo backups. Before, the feature was only available to Fire Phone users.
  • Nov. 4, 2014, 2:44 AM
    • Starting today, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will allow customers who buy a Disney (NYSE:DIS) movie from either of their online stores to watch it on smartphones, tablets and other digital devices that run their rival’s operating system.
    • Apple previously restricted movies, TV shows and other content to its own family of iOS devices. Google placed similar restrictions on its digital store and Android-powered devices.
    • The two will pay Disney a wholesale rate for each copy of a film they sell, regardless of the devices on which people watch them.
  • Oct. 31, 2014, 9:57 AM
    • Andy Rubin, head of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) robotics efforts and until last year its Android chief, is leaving the company to create a hardware startup incubator. Research scientist James Kuffner will replace Rubin.
    • The WSJ reports (citing a source) Rubin was "facing constraints on his activities at Google," something that didn't mesh with his entrepreneurial streak.
    • Last week, Google put Sundar Pichai, Rubin's replacement as Android chief, in charge of all of the company's core products. In a memo explaining the move, Larry Page said he's looking to create a simpler management structure, and to have more time to "focus on the bigger picture." Page will still oversee various non-core products.
    • Google has bought a number of robotics companies, and wants to use its A.I./deep learning expertise to create robots that can automate many repetitive human tasks in areas such as manufacturing and retail.
  • Oct. 28, 2014, 3:39 AM
    • YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Susan Wojcicki is considering the addition of a paid-subscription business model to the world’s largest online video website.
    • A paid, ad-free subscription version of YouTube would give users more choice and work well in a world where viewers are increasingly watching videos through apps on mobile devices, says Wojcicki during the Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, California.
    • About a year ago, YouTube allowed content providers to create their own subscription-based channels and to charge a fee to watch their content, but never offered a paid-subscription option that excluded ads.
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  • Oct. 24, 2014, 6:18 PM
    • Re/code reports Larry Page has signed off on a reorg that puts respected Android/Chrome/Google Apps chief Sundar Pichai in charge of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) core products.
    • Pichai will reportedly "have purview over research, search, maps, Google+, commerce and ads and infrastructure," in addition to his current responsibilities. The six execs responsible for the aforementioned product areas will now report to Pichai instead of Page. However, YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki will keep reporting to Page.
    • Page's decision is said to be driven by a wish to spend more time on the "bigger picture," and by concerns Google will become less innovative/agile as it ages. The co-founder/CEO will still be directly in charge of business and operations, as well as Nest, Calico, Google X, and a few other areas.
    • It was only last year that Pichai replaced Andy Rubin as Google's Android chief.
    • Update: A Google spokesman has confirmed the reorg.
  • Oct. 22, 2014, 2:27 PM
    • Inbox, a new Gmail (GOOG +1.8%) app that has been launched in invite-only mode, forgoes the traditional inbox view in favor of Google Now-like cards that display (along with an e-mail's title/author) content such as photos, flight times, and appointments.
    • Google's app also tries to intelligently place e-mails into bundles that can be quickly viewed/deleted, and to parse out data such as phone numbers and addresses. Other features include the ability to "snooze" e-mails so that a user is alerted to them at a different time or location, and the ability to add reminders that appear on the app's main page.
    • "The world has changed a lot since [e-mail] was invented," says Gmail/Inbox product director Alex Gawley. He admits the app, which (among other things) attempts to help users contend with e-mail overload, is consumer-focused for now, but suggests features that will make it more business-friendly are on the way.
    • The Verge's Dieter Bohn: "My first impression of Inbox is that it's really great, but a little weird ... Inbox is basically your e-mail, but mediated by Google. It's the Google Now version of your regular Inbox."
  • Oct. 21, 2014, 12:13 PM
    • Google (GOOG +0.2%) has led a $542M funding round in Magic Leap, a secretive augmented reality startup promising to deliver 3D imagery that's far more lifelike than that provided by current virtual reality solutions, such as Facebook's Oculus Rift. Other investors include Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), film studio Legendary Entertainment, and VC firms Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz.
    • Re/code reports "a key part of Magic Leap’s plans involves a wearable device that will track users’ eyeballs and project images onto them." It adds the company "intends to use an infrared camera similar to the Microsoft Kinect to create a 3-D understanding of the world around the wearer — so the virtual objects can appear to go both in front of and behind things." By contrast, Oculus relies on standard displays to project a flat, panoramic image.
    • Google reportedly doesn't have any current plans to integrate Magic Leap's tech with Google Glass. In February, the company launched Tango, an augmented reality solution for Android phones that can track motion and create visual maps of a user's surroundings.
  • Oct. 17, 2014, 11:04 AM
    • Much as it took Google's (GOOG -1.4%) Q1 miss in stride (previous), the sell-side generally isn't too worried by the company's below-consensus Q3 results.
    • Several firms have cut their targets, but that might have as much to do with Google's YTD performance as anything else. Shares have pared their losses amid a Nasdaq rally.
    • Needham: "While Paid Clicks slowed, particularly in mobile, we believe Google is well positioned for the transition to mobile ...  We also expect Google to benefit from its strengthening relationship with brands. Google's efforts to prove that its online advertising attribution drives offline conversions should translate into larger ad budget allocations."
    • BGC: "The CPC decline abated. That’s a big positive. If CPCs flatline that’s going to help the core meaningfully." SunTrust: "Google continues to dominate search share and be a leader in display, video, mobile, and software applications. The network effects created powerful product extensions to provide a prolonged period of growth."
    • BofA is also staying bullish, but has cut its target by $70 to $600, and voices some concerns. "While some of the slowdown in growth is due to tougher comps, results suggest a slowing environment for Online traffic and advertising, or a competitive shift to social sites." It was only a few days ago that Eric Schmidt highlighted the threat posed by mobile apps to Google search.
    • Jordan Rohan (formerly with Stifel) notes that for all of the company's far-flung investments, Google's fortunes are still heavily tied to its original product. "Google’s core search business is the best Internet business model ever created. Every other business Google is in looks pedestrian by comparison."
    • Prior Google earnings coverage
  • Oct. 16, 2014, 5:52 PM
    • "It's the time of year when we do equity refresh," CFO Patrick Pichette stated on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Q3 CC, downplaying the company's heavy opex growth (especially for R&D). He insists Q3's spending growth rate was unique, and suggests rates will be lower going forward. (live blog)
    • Likewise, sales chief Omid Kordestani (filling in for the departed Nikesh Arora) suggested the slowdown in paid click growth is a normal fluctuation, and that swings happen from time to time as changes are made. Is Facebook a culprit? The social networking giant's ad sales rose 67% Y/Y in Q2 to $2.68B.
    • Pichette attributes much of the 20% Y/Y increase in Google sites revenue to mobile search (not surprising), and the 9% increase in ad network revenue to Google's AdMob (mobile display ad) and Ad Exchange platforms. Given the low overall growth rate, that suggests mainstay AdSense network ads - the focus of many policy changes meant to improve the user experience - were soft. Google Play and ad licensing fueled the 50% increase in Other revenue.
    • Google suggests mobile ad prices are rising, but (as usual) doesn't provide details. The company does note total cost per click would've been up 1% Q/Q if not for forex.
    • GOOG -2.7% AH. Q3 results, details.
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Company Description
Google Inc is a web search and online advertising company. The Company offers search, online advertising, operating systems and platforms, enterprise and hardware products.