google

Chris Nuttall

We pick our highlights of the product unveilings, bringing you the essential news from the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas (January 6 -11).

What it is: More devices with Google TV

Key points: More set-top boxes and TV models will feature Google TV with Asus, Hisense and TCL joining the party and existing partners like LG, Vizio and Sony showing new products featuring the Google TV 3.0 platform. Partners will also be showing the latest apps, such as an improved YouTube experience, voice command capabilities and the “Send to TV” feature that allows video to be switched from an Android device to the bigger screen. Read more

Richard Waters

Victory on the main issue raised in the US anti-trust investigation of Google – the charge of search bias – is likely to remove any self-imposed limits the company has observed while under intense regulatory scrutiny over the past two years (Google’s own response, hinting at more aggressive competition to come, certainly suggested as much.)

Another consequence, noted by former FTC official David Balto: Any hopes that rivals had about riding on the back of regulatory action to bring their own private lawsuits have been dashed.

But in the area of patents, at least, the concession Google has made to end a US anti-trust investigation could have wider ramifications. Read more

What do a spat over the taxes that Google and Amazon pay in the UK and a multinational conference on the internet taking place in Dubai have in common?

On the face of it, not very much. But they are united by at least one thing: a growing awareness of the immense power – and profits – of some of the richest US technology companies. As many countries struggle with their own dire fiscal positions, this conspicuous success has become hard to ignore. Less friendly tax regimes and encroaching regulation are becoming a very real threat.

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Back of Google Nexus 10

Google’s latest addition to its hardware range, the Nexus 10, has landed. This time Google partnered with Samsung to produce an iPad-beating spec sheet and what they tout as the ‘highest resolution display in the world’. Priced at £319 in the UK and $399 in the US, could the Nexus 10 tempt Android holdouts? Read more

How far will Google go to head off the threat of long and damaging antitrust battles on both sides of the Atlantic – and how hard will regulators push to cramp its expansive style?

The answers to those questions should become clearer in the next few weeks, as the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission press the company for voluntary changes in its business model to end their antitrust investigations. Rivals want radical action, perhaps even extending to a break-up of Google into separate companies that handle search and other services. The likely outcome, though, is more minimalist.

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Richard Waters

There has been no shortage of calls recently for European regulators to drag Google’s controversial new data privacy policies into their anti-trust investigation of the company. But with settlement talks at an advanced stage, we hear this one isn’t going anywhere – at least, not in this round of Google v the EU. Read more

Google sign

It has taken Wall Street a long time to warm to Google’s second act.

This week, however, stock market investors have finally thrown aside some of their wariness. By pushing the search company’s shares to their first record high in almost five years, they delivered a vote of confidence in the new, more diversified advertising business that has become the basis for Google’s latest surge of growth – while also giving an implicit thumbs-down to Facebook, whose short-term chances of putting Google in the shade, at least in business terms, have receded sharply.

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Chris Nuttall

Google has agreed to pay a $22.5m fine to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived users about tracking “cookies”, which it used to serve them targetted ads in the Safari browser.

The penalty, the same as expected when we reported its likelihood a month ago, represents a record sum for the FTC but a piddling amount for the search giant. Read more

It was a big week not only for Yahoo but for Marissa Mayer, who capped her appointment as chief executive with the announcement that she is expecting her first child. Once the initial surprise had passed, Silicon Valley was abuzz with speculation about whether Mayer could be the spark that has been missing from Yahoo for the past few years.

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Google Nexus 7

Google’s Nexus brand showcases its latest Android software and its manufacturing partners’ advances in hardware. Now it has ventured beyond smartphones to unveil the Nexus 7 – the brand’s first tablet, which is manufactured by Asus.

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Twitter became the latest internet company to reveal attempts by governments to access user data and remove content, as the micro-blogging service followed in the footsteps of Google and released its first transparency report on Monday.

The report revealed that Twitter received government requests for user details from 1,181 accounts in the first half of 2012.  Twitter complied with just under two-thirds of all government requests for user data. Read more

Google’s tablet and living-room media device, unveiled at its annual developer conference, were enough to have some Google fans and tech commentators fawning over the company. Google also stepped it up another notch with a demonstration of the prototype Google Glass and a promise to turn it into a product by early 2014, reminding us that Google still has huge technology ambition – though some were not sure sure the company was taking the right direction. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

“Growth continues” at Google+, up from the 170m users announced during the last earnings call, Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president for product management, said at London’s Le Web event on Tuesday.

But he acknowledged that Google’s social network still had some way to go.

“I don’t think we’ve hit that hyper growth phase,” he said, while pointing out that Google+ had still managed to reach the scale it had faster than many social networks. Read more

Richard Waters

Google’s first Chromebook sought to do a couple of things really well – and largely succeeded.

But because laptops need to do more than a couple of things, the Chromebook didn’t sell. Ultimately, it represented too much of a break with the PC. That makes the compromises built into the new Chromebook, which goes on sale in the US on Tuesday and the UK on Wednesday, an important step towards making it a more practical machine. Read more

Google drive

Apple has accumulated 125m users of its iCloud service just six months after the launch. But while it does a great job of saving and moving photos and music between different Apple devices, it is less agile with documents, video and non-Apple products – a weakness that three updated services are exploiting.

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Tim Bradshaw

Fourteen months ago, to some fanfare, Google launched One Pass – its way to help publishers charge for digital content on the web, mobile and tablets.

Coming just a day after Apple announced plans for a 30 per cent tax on all app subscriptions, Google’s gambit caused quite a stir. With a more generous 10 per cent split and promises to share more subscriber data with publishers, at a time when many were spitting feathers about Apple’s diktat, One Pass was seen as a bold challenge and a tempting proposition from a company many publishers still felt was a parasite.

Yet last week, on a sunny Friday afternoon, Google quietly snuffed One Pass, whose homepage now returns only a 404 error. Read more

Richard Waters

How does the company that says it wants to be “deserving of great love” justify tapping into home WiFi networks and grabbing snippets of personal information by the truckload?

Simple: listening in to unsecured WiFi networks, according to Google’s lawyers, is perfectly legal. And regrettable as that may sound, US regulators have accepted the defence – though they still feel Google “deliberately impeded” their investigation and “willfully and repeatedly violated” orders to produce information. Read more

Richard Waters

Can you name this start-up?

Some 18 months after launching, it reaches 20m users and may be on the way to owning its category. An established internet giant, which has been trying to break into the same market, jumps in with a takeover offer worth more than $1bn – even though it’s not clear how the start-up will make money. With a market value that has soared to over $100bn, though, the acquirer feels it can afford the risk.

No, this is not Facebook buying Instagram – but the parallels are striking. Read more

Could Google become one of the beneficiaries of improving ties between Taiwan and China?

The US internet company on Tuesday began construction of its own data center in central Taiwan, one of three that it is building in Asia, after Hong Kong and Singapore. The groundbreaking comes just a week after the Taiwan government approved the construction of the first-ever undersea cable directly linking China and Taiwan. Read more

Maija Palmer

London’s Tech City project got a big boost on Thursday when Google officially opened Campus,  its first hub offering start-up technology companies desk space and mentoring.

Opened to great fanfare by George Osborne, chancellor, the seven-storey building will house 100 start-up companies and organisations such as Seedcamp, the technology incubator, and TechHub, the original provider of co-working space in the Shoreditch area. Read more