First, for Google’s opponents, let’s look on the bright side.
The company’s tentative deal with European regulators in April to head off a formal anti-trust complaint was, according to critics, worse than useless. In the words of Silicon Valley lawyer Gary Reback: “They were Nowheresville”.
Tuesday’s revised deal at least fixes the most glaring flaws. Whether it will do anything meaningful to change the competitive situation is another matter. Read more
Mobile search and related advertising are booming. This market is really taking off at last.
But the more useful Google becomes, the more it finds itself pushing at the boundaries of what people will find acceptable. Image Search has the potential to be its next privacy landmine. Read more
Yahoo executives meeting with investors and analysts on Wednesday did what they could to assuage concerns about the company’s minority investments in China and Japan before moving on to the sunnier topics of a surge in display advertising and the big potential for video. Read more
When Google hit out at the content farms earlier this year with a change to its ranking algorithm, it was the opening blow in what looked like being a long fight.
Demand Media admitted late on Sunday that the change hurt traffic at its biggest site, eHow. But it brushed off the damage (and a 10 per cent hit to its share price) by affirming its financial guidance and saying that it had redoubled its efforts to attract eyeballs – including from Facebook. Read more
Yahoo on Wednesday began rolling out improvements to its core search function that produce results–not just links–on popular subjects much faster than before. Read more
Google’s accusation today that Microsoft’s Bing is copying its search results feels like a telling moment in the long-running Search Wars.
When I caught up just now with Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search quality, he didn’t mince his words: “It’s crazy. I haven’t seen anything like this in ten years in search.” For Microsoft, it raises an uncomfortable question: after years of work and hundreds of millions of dollars, is it still unable to match Google without hanging onto its coattails? Read more
Google has hit back at growing criticism of the quality of its search results, with a blog post pledging to tackle “content farms” and admitting: “We can and should do better.”
The move has been seen as a threat to Demand Media, one such producer of low-cost articles and videos designed to suck up search traffic, which has just priced its initial public offering. Read more
Japan’s antitrust authorities have cleared Yahoo Japan’s plan to rely on Google for algorithmic search results, rejecting complaints from Microsoft and others that the combined service would field as much as 90 per cent of the nation’s search queries.
Japan Fair Trade Commission officials told wire services that they would not block the deal announced in July but would continue to monitor it for any harm to the market. Read more
The version of Google’s Android operating system for smartphones due out in a few weeks can be used with specialised chips to authenticate the precise location of the mobile devices, paving the way for secure payments at physical stores, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said Monday.
Because the Near-Field Communication chips can store and exchange precise data about the phones, well beyond ordinary GPS, their adoption will allow phone owners to tap their gadgets against a physical surface to confirm their presence and identity, Mr Schmidt said. Read more
Google Instant provides the clearest evidence for years that Google is still prepared to throw its engineering might – and its wallet – into raising the stakes in the search business.
This turns out to be more than the one-off launch that we wrote about last month. Rather, Instant has become a rolling series of changes that together amount to a very sizeable challenge to anyone else who wants to stay in the search business long term (are you listening, Microsoft?)
This is how Johanna Wright, director of product management for search, described the latest twist to Instant, unveiled on Tuesday: “We’ve had to take images of every page on the Web, and to know where every word on the internet sits.” Read more
If Google Instant is everything that Google hopes it will be, the entire industry of search engine optimisers and marketers has some work to do.
The new search feature, launched at a slickly staged event at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (Google is finally learning some of the Apple magic), predicts a user’s intent and returns results as a query is being typed. With each additional keystroke, Google says it can make a fresh calculation of the most likely search query and show instant results.
In theory, as Googlers on hand like Marissa Mayer and Sergey Brin were quick to point out, this should make no difference to the eventual results or the adverts that users click on. The ranking algorithms remain the same. But in practice, Instant could have far-reaching effects. Read more
A year after Yahoo and Microsoft finally agreed to combine their search efforts, the result is showing up.
Starting this week, natural searches on Yahoo from the US and Canada will begin being “powered” by Bing, the Microsoft search engine. Paid search results are still on track to be delivered by Microsoft this autumn, Yahoo executives said Tuesday, unless quality issues force a delay past the winter holidays.
Most users won’t be able to tell the difference, but the relevance should be better, said Yahoo vice president Shashi Seth. Read more
Today’s closure of Microsoft’s two-year-old Cashback experiment serves as a reminder of an important point: it has failed to come up with any smart ideas to subvert Google’s business model.
Ballmer and Gates always made clear that they saw the search wars taking place on two fronts – technology and business model. Improving the quality of results and the user experience was only part of the fight. Turning the tables on Google through business innovation supposedly offered another opportunity. Read more
It was only a matter of time before Brussels began looking at an antitrust complaint against Google. Murmurings of discontent about the dominant search engine have been going on for several years now, and recently there has been a rash of smaller cases against the company.
Three particular cases are being considered by the European Commission. A complaint by Foundem, a UK vertical search company, one from ejustice.fr, a French legal search site, and a complaint made initially in Germany by Ciao!, a vertical search site recently bought by Microsoft. Read more
Google is holding out a helping hand to the embattled newspaper industry with a new way of browsing newspapers and magazines online.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive, has criticised the formats of online editions of newspapers as slow and “pretty unpleasant to read.”
Google unveiled “Fast Flip” at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco on Monday as a possible solution. Read more