2007年10月31日 星期三

Google Phone Plan Draws Interest

Google Phone Plan
Draws Interest


Google Inc. is in advanced talks with two top U.S. cellphone operators, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., about selling handsets tailored to its new mobile-phone operating system, people familiar with the matter said.

Deals with the carriers would represent a major breakthrough for the Internet search giant, which until now has encountered wariness from some quarters of the wireless industry about its mobile-phone plans.

Within two weeks, Google is expected to announce new software and services that handset makers could use to build customized Google-powered phones. The company needs wireless operators to sign on to the project in order to get its mobile devices in front of consumers by the middle of next year. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, and Sprint Nextel are both in advanced discussions with Google, the people familiar with the talks said.

A Google technology partnership might let the carriers offer cheaper phones, because Google's licensing fees for its software and operating system would likely be less than the industry standard. The phones also would be open to third-party application development, potentially spurring development of new features.

The deals would give Google an extensive reach for its new platform in the U.S. market. Verizon and Sprint are the No. 2 and No. 3 U.S. carriers by subscribers, respectively. Google had already made significant progress in recent months with another major U.S. operator, Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA Inc. It isn't clear what progress Google has made with AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. carrier, with 65.7 million subscribers.

A Verizon-Google alliance would be particularly surprising, given how the two companies have sparred recently. Verizon has fought Google's efforts in Washington to force wireless carriers to open their networks to more services. The wireless carrier tried to overturn rules that Google had successfully pushed through the Federal Communications Commission relating to a coming radio-spectrum auction. Last week, however, Verizon dropped its appeal of the FCC rules. It was unclear whether Verizon's decision was connected to discussions now under way with Google. A spokesman for Verizon said there was no link between any discussions with Google and the lawsuit.

Sprint has generally been an industry leader in the development of applications for phones, such as mobile video and music, so partnering with Google is more natural. The company already is working with Google on software for devices that will run on a new high-speed WiMAX network that Sprint is building. Sprint is struggling to rebound from a period of sluggish subscriber growth that resulted in the ouster of Chief Executive Officer Gary Forsee, so any new handsets that can attract additional customers would help the company.

There is no guarantee Google will cut deals with any of the major operators. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. The company will likely have to make compromises to win over the carriers.

Among the important issues for carriers to work out is how well Google's platform will protect consumer privacy and the security of phones, a person familiar with the situation said. Another concern is how Google and carriers will split future advertising revenue. Cellphone advertising is still a tiny market, yet wireless carriers see it as an area that could grow quickly in coming years and help offset declining voice revenue. Telecom executives are trying to avoid a repeat of what happened on the Web, when they were left out of the boom in online advertising revenue even though they provide the infrastructure that makes broadband connections possible.

Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook

gang up

gang up phrasal verb DISAPPROVING
to unite as a group against someone:
They all ganged up to try and get him to change his decision.
The whole class ganged up against/on her because she was the teacher's pet.

Overstock is a company that some people love to hate. The short sellers have ganged up on it, and the company has begun what Patrick Byrne, the chief executive, calls his "jihad" against naked short selling, which includes a lawsuit against a hedge fund and analyst who thought the stock overvalued. Mr. Byrne also has time to promote his solution for public education, which is on the ballot in Colorado tomorrow. (It involves ordering schools to cut overhead costs.)

Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook

Published: October 31, 2007

2007年10月30日 星期二

Can Google-Powered Phones Connect with Carriers?

Can Google-Powered Phones Connect with Carriers?


Google Inc. is close to unveiling its long-planned strategy to shake up the wireless market, people familiar with the matter say. The Web giant's ambitious goal: to make applications and services as accessible on cellphones as they are on the Internet.

In a move likely to kick off an intense debate about the future shape of the cellphone industry, Google wants to make it easier for cellphone customers to get a variety of extra services on their phones -- from maps to social-networking features to video-sharing. To get its way, however, the search giant will have to overcome resistance from wireless carriers and deal with potentially thorny security and privacy issues.

Google is trying to loosen the grip wireless carriers have over the software and services consumers can access on cellphones. Carriers have considerable clout, especially in the U.S., where they control distribution of phones to consumers through their retail stores.

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say. In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan's HTC Corp. and South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom's Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Google-powered phones are expected to wrap together several Google applications -- among them, its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail email -- that have already made their way onto some mobile devices. The most radical element of the plan, though, is Google's push to make the phones' software "open" right down to the operating system, the layer that controls applications and interacts with the hardware. That means independent software developers would get access to the tools they need to build additional phone features.

Developers could, for instance, more easily create services that take advantage of users' Global Positioning System location, contact lists and Web-browsing habits. They also would be able to interact with Google Maps and other Google applications. The idea is that a range of new social networking, mapping and other services would emerge, just as they have on the open, mostly unfettered Web. Google, meanwhile, could gather user data to show targeted ads to cellphone users.

"The most likely scenario from a Google perspective is to build some, if you will, inspirational platform [applications]; but primarily focus on getting third parties to do it because that's where the innovation will come from," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the All Things Digital conference in May. He said that "the new model of these phones is going to be person-to-person" with people exchanging videos and other types of data.

While many software developers are likely to cheer Google's open wireless platform, there are some potential risks for consumers. If Google isn't careful, sensitive user information could end up in the wrong hands, leading to spamming, stalking or other invasions of privacy.

There is broad momentum already to make software development on mobile phones easier and more open. Apple Inc. initially limited the kinds of applications it allowed outside developers to make for its iPhone, but the company recently said it would release tools next year to broaden the range of features allowed. (Handset maker Nokia Corp. said its new Internet and multimedia platform, Ovi, is open to third-party applications.)

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile operating system already gives software developers access to a range of tools to build programs for consumers, though the company does put all new services through a certification process to screen for programs that could hack into a customer's phone or pose other risks.

Microsoft executives question what impact Google will have. "The idea that there are all these things software developers can't do -- it's just not true," said John O'Rourke, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Mobile unit said. "It's hard to imagine what huge breakthroughs [Google] is going to have."

Google's push comes as carriers are under pressure on other fronts to relax their hold on the wireless market. They face litigation over "locking" of phones, which prevents people from transferring devices from one provider to another.

Sprint Nextel Corp. agreed this month to unlock the phones of departing customers as part of a settlement in a California class-action lawsuit. Google and others, meanwhile, have criticized carriers for being a bottleneck on what software and services consumers can access.

Google helped push through controversial rules for a coming spectrum auction at the Federal Communications Commission that would result in a new cellular network open to all devices and software applications, even those not favored by an operator. Google has said it will probably bid for the frequencies.

For now, the company knows it has no choice but to work with operators to make its open platform successful. D.P. Venkatesh, CEO of mPortal Inc., which makes software for wireless operators, puts it this way: "There are a few things carriers control that will always keep them in charge at the end of the day."

--Kevin J. Delaney, Cassell Bryan-Low and Jane Spencer contributed to this article.

Write to Amol Sharma at amol.sharma@wsj.com

2007年10月25日 星期四

Mozilla Corp. and Google

October 25, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Mozilla Corp. will walk away from Google Inc. and the millions it collects from the search company each year, if that's what it takes to stay independent, the open-source developer's CEO promised yesterday.

"We've spent a lot of time and energy making sure that Google understands that it cannot turn us into an arm of Google," said Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla and chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation. "The things that make Mozilla and Firefox a success [are] the product, and the community that cares about it."

First and foremost, we would protect those things," Baker said. "If the protection of those things would come into conflict with Google, or any of our search partners, we would opt for the community who built Firefox and love Firefox."...

2007年10月24日 星期三

Google, Nielsen go for better audience measurement

- 2007 十月 25
- 4 小時前
網路搜尋龍頭Google宣布與收視率調查權威尼爾森(Nielsen)結盟,取得電視觀眾詳細資料,進軍電視廣告市場,奪取電視廣告營收。 根據雙方24日宣布的協議,Google將付費給尼爾森,取得特定電視節目觀眾的詳細資料,製作與播出更有效的廣告。Google可以分析尼爾森提供的觀眾 ...

Google plans to work with Nielsen to provide advertisers with demographic information about audiences for TV ads the Internet company sells.

Google, Nielsen go for better audience measurement

Tampa Bay Business Journal

2007年10月21日 星期日

Google as friend, or Big Brother

Big Brother

Google as friend, or Big Brother

John Arlidge visits the Googleplex to hear about the company's plans for world domination

The Sunday Times Magazine has a huge piece on Google. Who's looking at you?, by former Observer (etc) regular John Arlidge, who visited the Googleplex like a good travel writer. It shows how the behemoth looks to someone who isn't a tech specialist, which is to say, scarily like some sort of Big Brother operation that wants to plant chips in our brains and track us everywhere:

Google's overall goal is to have a record of every e-mail we have ever written, every contact whose details we have recorded, every file we have created, every picture we have taken and saved, every appointment we have made, every website we have visited, every search query we have typed into its home page, every ad we have clicked on, and everything we have bought online. It wants to know and record where we have been and, thanks to our search history of airlines, car-hire firms and MapQuest [sic: he means Google Maps], where we are going in the future and when.

But don't worry, it's all for your own good:

Brin and Page were obsessed with recording, categorising and indexing anything and everything, and then making it available to anyone with internet access because they genuinely believed -- and still do -- that it is a morally good thing to do. It may sound hopelessly hippie-ish and wildly hypocritical coming from a couple of guys worth £10 billion each, but Brin and Page insist they are not, and never have been, in it for the money. They see themselves as latter-day explorers, mapping human knowledge so that others can find trade routes in the new information economy.

Sadly, if you read the story online, the Times Online's Web staff have lost almost all the last page of text (page 43 -- roughly 25%, at a crude estimate) and it ends in mid air: "If, however, you share your web history with Google, it will know that you like Italian food best because you search for it the most, and it will know the area you."

Since this is a colour magazine story, you will naturally expect a feeble conclusion, but here it is anyway:

[Google] does not simply want to be a good search engine on the web, it wants to be the web.
Will it get there? In the end, it's up to us. Google has only gone from being the most famous misspelling since "potatoe" to a verb recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary because you, me -- in fact, almost all of us -- use it. If we carry on logging on, it will carry on growing. And growing. If we don't, it won't. The choice -- the click -- is ours.

That would have been reasonable enough a few years ago, but it ignores all the interesting questions about what happens when Google pwns the Web, if it doesn't already. Google isn't just harvesting clicks, it is changing the whole online environment for the worse.

For example, many sites are no longer designed just for readers, and sometimes not for readers at all: they are designed to score well in Google, and in particular, to drive revenue from Google AdWords.

And for the tens or hundreds of millions of sites that live or die by AdWords, Google has life or death power over them. It can change the rules at any time, and you are not entitled to know this. Nor are you entitled to know what the rules are. As I've said before, Google acts as its own policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, and you have no right of appeal. The best you can do is suck up to Google and hang on to a percentage of the money your efforts generate, while Google rakes in billions.

Google is, of course, benign, but there is always a feeling that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Come back in five years when Google is 100 times more powerful.

2007年10月20日 星期六

The Google Way: Give Engineers Room


The Google Way: Give Engineers Room

這些字眼preoccupations和 room等都是雙關語
Published: October 21, 2007

GOOGLE engineers are encouraged to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. This means that if you have a great idea, you always have time to run with it.

Skip to next paragraph
Noah Berger for The New York Times

Bharat Mediratta taking part in a “grouplet” meeting at Google, reflecting its emphasis on allowing employees time for independent projects.

It sounds obvious, but people work better when they’re involved in something they’re passionate about, and many cool technologies have their origins in 20 percent time, including Gmail, Google News and even the Google shuttle buses that bring people to work at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

If your 20 percent idea is a new product, it’s usually pretty easy to just find a few like-minded people and start coding away. But when the thing you really want to work on is to make a broad change across the whole organization, you need something new — you need a “grouplet.”

These grouplets have practically no budget, and they have no decision-making authority. What they have is a bunch of people who are committed to an idea and willing to work to convince the rest of the company to adopt it.

Consider the collection of engineers who wanted to promote “agile programming” inside the company. Agile programming is a product development approach that incorporates feedback early and often, and was being done in a few scattered parts of the organization.

The Agile grouplet formed to try to take this idea and spread it throughout the organization. It did so by banding together and reaching out to as many groups as it could to teach the new process. It created “Agile Office Hours” when you could stop by and ask questions about the process. It handed out books and gave internal talks on the topic. It attended staff meetings and created the concept of the “Agile Safari,” in which you could volunteer to work for a time in groups that were using Agile, to see how it ticks.

When you’re moving as fast as Google is, you don’t always get the chance to button up the little things, and over time they build up and become annoying. In addition to the efforts of our professional quality assurance team, we have the Fixit grouplet, which coordinates special Fixit days when it tries to have our engineers focus on solving one class of problems. Sometimes we have Documentation Fixits, when we try to catch up on all the internal documentation that we have let slide.

Or my favorite: the Customer Happiness Fixit, when we fix all those little things that bug our users and make them sad — for example, when the hotkeys aren’t just right on mobile phones. Many of these events come with special T-shirts and gifts to reward the engineers who take a little time out to work on them.

In my 20 percent time, I started the Testing grouplet. This was born of the idea — not mine — that if developers wrote automated tests as they wrote their code, their code would be better for it. Less time fixing bugs means more time building stuff.

We started with engineers from all over the company meeting every couple of weeks to brainstorm. Slowly, over time, we started turning into activists, planning to actually start improving things.

We started building better tools and giving informal talks to different technical groups. We started building a curriculum for our Nooglers — newly hired Google employees — so that they would start off right. With our pooled 20 percent time, we slowly turned the organization on its axis and made developer testing a common part of the development practice.

Google works from the bottom up. If you have a great technical idea, you don’t have your V.P. send out a memo telling everybody to use it. Instead, you take it to your fellow engineers and convince them that it’s good. Good ideas spread fast, and this approach keeps us from making technical mistakes. But it also means that the burden falls upon you to spread your idea.

In the Testing grouplet, our idea was to have developers start writing their own tests. But no matter how hard we tried, we weren’t reaching engineers fast enough in our growing organization. One day, toward the end of a long brainstorming meeting, we came up with the idea of putting up little one-page stories, called episodes, in bathroom stalls discussing new and interesting testing techniques. Somebody immediately called it “Testing on the Toilet,” and the idea stuck.

We formed a team of editors, encouraged authors to write lots of episodes and then bribed Nooglers with books and T-shirts to put up episodes every week. The first few episodes touched off a flurry of feedback from all corners of the campus. We received praise and flames, but mostly what we heard was that people were bored and wanted us to hurry and publish the next episode.

Eventually, the idea became part of the company culture and even a company joke, as in, “Excuse me, I need to go read about testing.” That’s when we realized that we had what we needed: a way to get our message out.

OF course, the grouplets need guidance to make sure they are aligned with the company interest. Having a lot of people who are self-organizing can be powerfully positive or negative, and not every idea is a good one. To help deal with that, a number of grouplet organizers meet once a week to make sure they are not at cross-purposes.

But when you give engineers the chance to apply their passion to their company, they can do amazing things.

Bharat Mediratta is a software engineer at Google.

Vinton G. Cerf for Taiwan


有「網路之父」稱號的溫瑟夫(Vinton G. Cerf)昨(20)日表示,網路(Internet)發展的下一步,就是行動化(Mobile),即手持裝置上網將為未來網路發展趨勢,未來很多人第一次的上網經驗不再透過電腦,而是手機。

溫瑟夫應台灣網路資訊中心(TWNIC)之邀,昨日與台灣網友進行面對面世紀對談。台灣網路資訊中心並邀請中央研究院士劉炯朗、ICANN(網際網路網域 名稱及位址管理機構)執行長保羅鐸梅(Paul Twomey)及台灣網路資訊中心董事長賴飛羆,一起與網友探討網路發展趨勢。

溫瑟夫為網際網路前身設計新一代網路通訊協定,也就是傳輸控制協定及網際網路協定(TCP/IP),讓原本獨立運作的電腦得以互連溝通,衍生出全球無遠弗 屆的網際網路,故被譽為「網際網路之父」。溫瑟夫目前是Google全球副總裁,Google並給予首席網際網路專家封號。

溫瑟夫認為,觀察網路發展的下一步,就是行動化,他以自己的手機舉例,透過行動裝置連接網際網路的模式將為趨勢,目前全球超過30億支手持式行動裝置可以 上網,過去多為透過個人電腦上網,未來很多人第一次上網經驗極可能是透過手機,未來手機將不只上網,也可與其他電腦設備進行連結傳輸資料。

隨著網路技術演進,上網地點及使用上網的設備也不再受限,Paul Twomey也對行動上網趨勢提出看法。他認為,過去網路技術進步,但是行動上網卻因手機及PDA等手持式裝置可顯示螢幕太小,而有所侷限,影響服務應用 的發展速度。不過,在蘋果iPhone以特殊使用方式及較大顯示螢幕打破限制後,行動上網出現新的突破。

2007年10月19日 星期五

Google Under Fire Over a Controversial Site

embroil Show phonetics
verb [T]
to cause someone to become involved in an argument or a difficult situation:
[R] She had no desire to embroil herself in lengthy lawsuits with the tabloid newspapers.
The United Nations was reluctant to get its forces embroiled in civil war.

embroiled ━━ a. 巻き込まれた ((in)).


Google Under Fire
Over a Controversial Site

Racist Speech, Porn
Stir Battle in Brazil;
A 'Pandora's Box'
October 19, 2007; Page A1

SÃO PAULO, Brazil -- Google Inc. makes billions marrying advertising to the Web. Just yesterday, it reported yet another surge in revenue and profit.

But here in Brazil, the Internet powerhouse is embroiled in an embarrassing episode over its efforts to profit from social networking, one of the fastest-growing activities online.

Google has gotten in hot water over its Web site Orkut, which like other social-networking sites allows people to swap information and create personal Web pages. While many Americans have never heard of it, Orkut is a powerhouse overseas, with more than half its 25 million monthly visitors in Brazil. By some measures, it ranks among the top 10 sites on the Web in popularity, alongside other heavily used social-networking sites such as News Corp.'s MySpace and Facebook Inc. (See related article.)

[Sticky Sites]

A central challenge for all these companies is how to turn the usage into cash. All of the big players are looking to advertisers to generate revenue. For most of its history Orkut was ad-free.

Then, when Google tried putting ads on the site, it ran into trouble. Critics in Brazil released a report showing advertisements on Orkut alongside pictures of naked children and abused animals. Google immediately suspended the ads, but the Mountain View, Calif., company is still grappling with the fallout from critics' Orkut campaign.

The head of Google's Brazilian operation is facing criminal contempt charges for refusing to turn Orkut users' data over to police. And next month there is a hearing in a case brought by a São Paulo prosecutor threatening daily fines of $100,000 or the shuttering of Google's Brazil office. "We have won," says Thiago Tavares Nunes de Oliveira, a 28-year-old Brazilian law professor who wrote the graphic report and has crisscrossed Brazil making the case that Google allowed Orkut to become a redoubt of criminal activity, including child pornography and racist speech.

The U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which tracks reports of child pornography, says Orkut generates a comparable amount of pedophilia complaints as other social networks. Google says it regularly removes illegal content from its services. It adds that while Orkut's data are not directly subject to Brazilian law, the company has changed its policies to more swiftly address Brazilian police and judicial requests.

[Thiago Tavares Nunes de Oliveira]

Google also acknowledges the company made mistakes by not devoting enough resources to understanding a culture and country where its site had become popular. "We'd do it differently today," says Alexandre Hohagen, the head of Google's Brazil office, who is facing contempt charges. "The product grew faster than the support. That is a fact."

Indeed, Google's traditionally hard-line stance on privacy issues -- which it views as necessary to preserve user trust -- exacerbated the situation in Brazil as well. Last year, the U.S. Justice Department took Google to court for refusing to hand over data about consumer Web searches that Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL had supplied. Google eventually complied after a federal judge ordered the government's request dramatically scaled back.

But what makes social-networking sites so popular -- the ability of anyone to post material -- also makes them hard to control, threatening the ability of Internet companies to make money off them. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo this week reached a settlement with privately held Facebook in which the Palo Alto, Calif., company promised to respond to user complaints about nudity, pornography or harassment within 24 hours. Mr. Cuomo's office had accused Facebook of being slow to respond to complaints about sexual predators.

The regulatory problems are more acute overseas. U.S. laws on Internet privacy and freedom of speech are relatively well-developed. But that's often not the case in other countries, where companies face conflicting laws, unpredictable environments and national or religious sensitivities. Brazilian law, for example, does not offer Internet companies the same immunity for defamation-related claims that they enjoy in the U.S. In India, nationalists have called for an Orkut ban, and the site is already blocked in some Arab countries.

For advertisers, the Orkut episode helped reinforce concerns that social networks are an unreliable advertising vehicle. "Orkut is a Pandora's box," says Brian Crotty, a vice president at McCann-Erickson's Brazilian advertising office.

Liquor maker Diageo PLC of London says it stopped advertising on all of Google's properties after learning that its ads ran alongside pornographic images on the site. Spokesman Stuart Kirby says Diageo didn't realize that ads for its Johnnie Walker brand had appeared on Orkut, where many users are below legal drinking age.

Orkut screen shots collected by Mr. Tavares also show content he views as objectionable running next to ads from Alibaba.com, a business-to-business site based in Hong Kong and whose parent is 40% owned by Yahoo. An Alibaba spokesman said the company is concerned about the situation. "We are contacting Google to understand what steps they are taking to insure that search advertisements do not appear alongside content that is inappropriate or illegal," he added in a statement.

World-wide visitors to social-networking sites in September, in thousands, and change from a year earlier
Unique users % Change
Blogger 142,971 85
Windows Live Spaces 119,838 21
MYSPACE.COM 107,031 37
Yahoo! Geocities 85,994 -8
FACEBOOK.COM 73,521 420
FLICKR.COM 40,906 98
Six Apart Sites 39,340 47
Lycos Tripod 35,379 -25
HI5.COM 35,064 51
Orkut 24,612 57
Yahoo! Groups 24,389 3
DADA.NET 20,196 32
BEBO.COM 19,722 142
Source: comScore World Metrix

Google is exploring ways to put advertising back on Orkut without it appearing alongside content advertisers find objectionable, says one person familiar with the matter.

Addressing such problems can prove expensive. News Corp.'s MySpace faced similar complaints in recent years. Now, company executives say, each of the eight million new pictures uploaded to its site each day is reviewed at least once by a human being. That program costs MySpace several million dollars a year.

News Corp. has agreed to acquire Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. In addition, News Corp. and Google have an agreement for Google to sell ads that appear on MySpace and share the ad revenue.

How to make money from Orkut -- and keep increasing revenue from outside the U.S. -- are strategic questions for Google. In the third quarter of this year, 48% of Google's revenue came from outside the U.S., up from 43% in 2006 and 39% in 2005. Thanks partly to the fact that Brazilians are some of the most active Internet users in the world, Orkut now has about as much global overall traffic, or "page views," as Google's top-ranked search engine, according to data from comScore Inc.

Google released Orkut -- named after creator Orkut Büyükkökten, a Google software engineer -- in 2004. It became a surprise hit in Brazil, where it quickly won millions of users.

Hewing to its usual strategy, the Internet giant didn't immediately try to make money from the site. As recently as the middle of 2005, Google had just three employees in Brazil. Google's low investment in Orkut contrasted sharply with its growing importance in Latin America's largest country. Orkut has become a major center of Brazilian social life, with two-thirds of all Internet surfers using the service, many of them children.

The site rapidly became a reflection of the good and bad of Brazilian society, a country famed for its fun-loving spirit as well as slum violence. Communities were built around such themes as soccer, love and overcoming injustice. Almost 400,000 people joined discussions in a group called "My mother is the best on Earth," Google says.

Criminal elements also connected with each other and recruited sympathizers on the site, including neo-Nazis, organized gangs and pedophiles. Mr. Tavares says in one year he recorded thousands of pages related to pedophilia. Other communities boasted names like "Black: the inferior race" and "I'm a Nazi, so what?" "It was like there were two Orkuts. A normal Orkut and a pornographic Orkut, living in parallel," says Irineu de Carli Jr., a Brazilian software consultant.

Orkut's dark side drew the interest of Mr. Tavares, a solemn man who became the second-ever youngest professor at his school, the Catholic University of Salvador. In 2004, Mr. Tavares received a small grant to track human-rights violations on the Internet. He says he soon discovered that while Internet use is exploding in Latin America, the region has few laws and limited resources to govern the rapid growth.

In December of 2005, Mr. Tavares set up a nonprofit group called SaferNet. Modeled on U.S. organizations, the site allows users to report online crimes via its Web site. Within weeks, he says, the site was receiving hundreds of complaints. More than 90% were about Orkut.

Mr. Tavares began pointing out problems to Internet companies. He says Yahoo of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., promptly removed material he flagged as offensive and promised to hold copies for authorities. Microsoft invited Mr. Tavares to a meeting with its top Brazilian executive.

But the young lawyer says Google gave him the brush-off. He says Mr. Hohagen, the head of Google's Brazil operation, didn't reply to several requests for meetings. In early 2006, Mr. Tavares gave a Google press officer a CD containing 220 pages of evidence of alleged Orkut crimes. He never heard back.

Google in Brazil says it can't find clear records of any such meeting requests by Mr. Tavares. But Mr. Hohagen confirms his account of the CD.

Google, meanwhile, began looking to make money in Brazil. In July 2005, it formed a local subsidiary to sell online advertising. Orkut was part of the strategy. "I lose sleep just thinking about the gold mine that Orkut could represent," Mr. Hohagen told Exame, Brazil's leading business magazine, in 2005.

But Google faced a growing wave of complaints, many instigated by Mr. Tavares. Sérgio Gardenghi Suiama, a federal prosecutor in São Paulo in charge of human rights, began flooding the company's Brazil office with subpoenas seeking identifying information, such as email addresses, of Orkut users accused of committing crimes online.

The Situation: In August, Google pulled ads from Orkut, its social networking Web site with a strong following in Brazil.
The Critic: A 28-year-old Brazilian lawyer and antipedophilia campaigner forced the Orkut move.
Why Google Should Care: Such scandals threaten the ability of Internet companies to profit from fast-growing social-networking Web sites.

Under direction from Google's U.S. headquarters, Mr. Hohagen refused to accept the subpoenas. Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, traveled to Brazil to explain the situation. In April 2006, Mr. Drummond testified at a congressional hearing requested by Mr. Tavares. He said Google wished to assist authorities, but Orkut data were all stored on computer servers located in the U.S. Therefore, he said, the data were subject to U.S. laws, not Brazilian ones.

Those laws include strict protections on users' private data and typically don't allow Google to reveal private communications without a user's express consent, except under very limited conditions and when ordered by a U.S. judge. And some crimes being investigated by Brazilian authorities -- like racist speech -- aren't crimes in the U.S. If Google met Brazilian demands, what would it do if Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a crime, began asking it to unmask gay users?

Orkut has been sparking debates over freedom of expression elsewhere. The United Arab Emirates blocked the site this summer after concerns that a community called "Dubai Sex" was promoting immorality. In India, members of the Army of Shiva, a political party, responded to criticisms of it on the site by attacking cyber-cafes and demanding that Orkut be banned as a "threat to national security."

But Brazilians are sensitive to the idea that Americans dominate the Internet. In 2005, for instance, Brazil joined China in a bid to wrest control from the U.S. of the Internet's domain-name system -- the management of suffixes like .com and .net that help route Internet traffic.

Google took other steps that angered local officials. The company gave responsibility for handling its Brazilian legal crisis to an outside lawyer, Durval de Noronha Goyos Jr., head of one of Brazil's largest law firms. Mr. Noronha criticized the prosecutor, Mr. Suiama, for presenting "inept" judicial demands to Google's Brazil subsidiary rather than its headquarters in California, where the company wished to handle them. Mr. Suiama, he said, was more interested in "exhibitionism in the media" than in solving problems.

The approach backfired. In August of 2006, Mr. Suiama requested a police investigation of Mr. Hohagen for disobeying judicial orders and filed a lawsuit threatening Google with heavy fines unless it complied with his requests. That case is scheduled to go to an arbitration hearing next month. "If they want to do business in Brazil, they must obey the laws here," Mr. Suiama says.

By early this year, Mr. Hohagen says Google was already looking to shift strategies. It sent Orkut's creator, Mr. Büyükkökten, on a three-week tour through Brazil where he was mobbed by fans for autographs. During the tour Google announced that a test of Orkut advertising, which had started in India and the U.S. last year, would be extended to Brazil.

But the test provided additional ammunition for Mr. Tavares's 12-person team at SaferNet. Trawling through Orkut's communities, Mr. Tavares noticed that Google's automated ad system couldn't tell the difference between a page dedicated to pedophilia and one with ordinary content.

On Aug. 17, Mr. Tavares sent an 18-page complaint to Brazil's advertising watchdog, known as CONAR, documenting cases of embarrassing juxtapositions: advertisements for Diageo's Johnnie Walker whiskey next to pornographic images; a pet store pitch on a community dedicated to stabbing animals with knives. In the report, Mr. Tavares alleged that Google's "flagrant illegalities" had resulted in ads appearing next to "barbaric" content.

After CONAR opened an investigation a few days later, Google immediately suspended advertising world-wide on Orkut. The company described the ads as part of a test marketing program involving only 1% of Orkut pages. Given Orkut's heavy usage, however, the ads could have been viewed by users hundreds of millions of times a month.

Google has since moved swiftly to address critics' concerns in Brazil. In a news conference last month in São Paulo, Mr. Hohagen announced a shift in strategy: Google Brazil would begin accepting police and judicial requests, although, he said, the company's U.S. parent would still respond to them. And the company offered to outfit nonprofits, including SaferNet, with special accounts so their complaints about content would receive top priority.

In late September, Mr. Hohagen called Mr. Tavares and the pair sat down for a five-hour meeting. They discussed steps the company could take to improve Orkut. "It was obvious that they could only commercialize Orkut after they proved to everyone they had solved the problem," Mr. Tavares says.

--Vauhini Vara contributed to this article.

Write to Antonio Regalado at antonio.regalado@wsj.com and Kevin J. Delaney at kevin.delaney@wsj.com

2007年10月16日 星期二

Facebook's got Google running scared By Josh Quittner

Facebook's got Google running scared

Why Google is spooked by Facebook and would dearly love to squash it, says Fortune's Josh Quittner.

By Josh Quittner, Fortune

(Fortune Magazine) -- Google is the elephant in nearly every corner of the Internet, from search and advertising to web-based e-mail, online mapping, and home-brewed video. With its share price setting new highs this fall, its market cap ($188 billion) is now large enough to buy the New York Times, the Washington Post, Gannett, and Time Warner - twice. Or Facebook many, many times over.

The problem is, Facebook's not for sale. And that's got Google running scared. It's an open secret in Silicon Valley that the company has been shopping around a nondisclosure agreement outlining its plan to create its own massive social network - and asking anyone with a pulse to sign it.

Google (Charts, Fortune 500) has to do something fast, because some of its best talent is starting to head for the exits. In July, Gideon Yu, finance chief at Google's YouTube, left for Facebook. Now other Google guys, stuck in the Googleplex and smelling a Facebook IPO that could turn early employees into early retirees, are also jumping ship.

The latest defector: Benjamin Ling, the top engineer at Google Checkout, its online payment service. A Stanford comp-sci Ph.D., Ling will be overseeing Facebook's entire software platform. Losing finance types is one thing. But smart engineers are the lifeblood of a great tech company, and Ling was worth a pint, insiders say.

Facebook's threat to Google, of course, is bigger than a talent war. In fact, the stakes here are about as high as they get in the Internet business. Something is going on that we haven't seen since Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) challenged Netscape and helped define the wide-open web.

Now the social networks are trying to do the opposite - to build what I call the Innernet. It's the place you occupy with family and friends and where you exercise almost absolute control, showing the world only as much of your true self as you care to while protecting you and yours from the evil that lurks on the wider web, from spam artists to identity thieves. Whoever builds that walled garden stands to make the next great Internet fortune.

Facebook, until recently little more than a student hangout, is the odds-on favorite to win that race. In March founder Mark Zuckerberg opened the site to independent software developers, inviting them to write Facebook applications and reap a share of whatever revenue they generate.

Because creating Facebook applets was so easy, programmers could throw lots of stuff at the wall and quickly see what stuck. Take, for example, Super Wall, a little app that lets users add text, photos, video, or drawings to one another's Facebook pages. It took a couple of developers part of a June weekend to write. Within three weeks, two million people were using it. Today, more than ten million do.

That's a real economy (or could be, if someone figured out how to make money from it), and it explains why Facebook has suddenly pulled out of the slipstream of MySpace, growing from 20 million active users in April to more than 45 million today.

More cool apps mean more reasons for people to hang out there - and more reasons for developers to launch new apps. Worst of all for Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin: They can't participate - for privacy reasons Google's search engine is barred at Facebook's door like an unwanted encyclopedia salesman.

How does Google plan to fight back? It's gearing up to do for the web what Facebook did for its network, starting with its social networking site Orkut (which is big in Brazil) and extending it to Gmail, You Tube, iGoogle, and so on.

Imagine Google as the command center for your entire social life; you could chat and read your e-mail there, give your closest friends access to your calendar, and get minute-by-minute updates on their whereabouts. All the big social networks were invited to join the new coalition - even, presumably, Facebook. (No one from Facebook or Google would comment.)

Will it work? Google's effort, I'm told, is being led by Joe Kraus, the founder of Excite. Though he is as Web 2.0 savvy as they come, I think Google's plan may be too little too late. Everyone these days is opening up his network - even MySpace.

Besides, there's no compelling reason for users to leave Facebook now. The developers will stay as long as they can reach a mass audience there. Google's trying to fix something that isn't broken - just as Microsoft has been doing for years with search and IBM tried to do with operating systems for PCs. Maybe Google should stick to organizing the world's information, and let this little mouse roar.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Blakely Top of page

Google Takes Step on Video Copyrights

Google Takes Step on Video Copyrights

Published: October 16, 2007

SAN BRUNO, Calif., Oct. 15 — Google is seeking to put an end to the copyright wars over online video.

On Monday, the company unveiled a long-anticipated system that, if effective, would allow media companies to prevent their clips from being uploaded to YouTube without permission.

Whether the system will work well enough to satisfy media companies who have been irked by the proliferation of unauthorized copyrighted clips on YouTube is not yet clear. But if successful, the system, which Google is offering to all media companies, could usher in a détente between them and Google.

“We are delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement,” said Michael Fricklas, general counsel of Viacom, which filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against YouTube and Google in March. “We’ll be watching to ensure that the system is reasonably effective and sufficiently robust to address the issue.”

Google said it had been testing the system with nine media companies, including Time Warner, CBS and Disney. Others involved include NBC Universal and Viacom, according to people with knowledge of the tests.

Google called the tests “promising” but would not say how effective the system was. Just last week, its chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said that developing a system that could identify video clips with 100 percent accuracy was virtually impossible.

“The question is, Can we get to 80 or 90 percent?” Mr. Schmidt said in an interview with a group of reporters.

It is not known if the system has reached that level of accuracy. At least one of Google’s testing partners said that it was a work in progress.

“They still have a ways to go with the system before we could call it totally sufficient,” said Edward Adler, executive vice president for communications at Time Warner.

Google said that its video identification service, which was developed by its own engineers, required media companies to submit their digital video files to Google, which would then create what technologists call a digital “fingerprint” for each file. That fingerprint would then be uploaded to a large database. Once a user uploaded a new clip, the same technology would determine whether that clip’s fingerprint matched a fingerprint in the database.

Content owners could instruct Google to block clips whose fingerprints matched their copyrighted clips. Alternatively, they could ask Google to promote the clip and even place advertising around it, to share revenue from the ads.

“We really need the content community to work with us,” said David King, a YouTube product manager. “What really drives this whole thing is having access to the reference material.”

Clips that content owners want blocked may be posted on YouTube for a few minutes before they are taken down, but over time, the company hopes to speed up the identification mechanism so that unauthorized uploads can be prevented altogether.

YouTube representatives said the system was able to identify clips that were identical to those in its database, as well as those that had been slightly modified by users to escape detection. To demonstrate, they showed a positive identification of a clip that had been captured by a camera filming a television set as the clip was being shown.

Google has been using fingerprints to recognize audio files for some time. Others, like MySpace and Microsoft, also use audio fingerprints to identify, and sometimes block, uploads of certain videos.

Google introduced the video identification system as a group of media and technology companies, including Microsoft, Viacom, Disney and others, are set to unveil a framework for how the two sides should cooperate to stamp out copyright infringement online, said a senior executive at a media company.

The executive said the group would make public that framework later this week and that, along with Google’s announcement Monday, it represented a “potential recipe for working relationships between content companies and digital distributors of all kinds.”

But not all media companies agree that Google’s identification system is enough.

“I think this is a completely inadequate solution,” said Louis Solomon, a partner in Proskauer Rose, which represents the Football Association Premier League of England, a lead plaintiff in a class-action copyright suit against Google. “It is too late in coming; it offers too little protection; it gives YouTube and Google content that they don’t need and shouldn’t have.”

Some consumer groups, meanwhile, worry that Google’s new system could prevent uploads of video clips that were authorized under “fair use” provisions of copyright law.

For its part, Viacom said it was too early to say what impact Google’s new system would have on its suit.

“We obviously have suffered significant past damages, but beyond that it is premature to tell what the effect would be on the litigation,” Mr. Fricklas said.

Google has long insisted that YouTube has always operated in compliance with copyright law, in part because it takes down unauthorized copyrighted clips when asked to by content owners. The new system would help content owners by automating that process, the company said.

2007年10月15日 星期一

企業內部網路檢索裝置的新版本“Google Search Appliance version 5.0


Google Search Appliance version 5.0的特點
  美國谷歌(Google Inc.)于2007年10月11日上市了企業內部網路檢索裝置的新版本“Google Search Appliance version 5.0(以下簡稱GSA 5.0)”。其最大特點是,能夠將對企業和組織擁有的文件和內容進行綜合管理的ECM(Enterprise Content Management,企業內容管理)作為檢索對象。

  此前的版本在將企業內部的ECM作為檢索對象時需要個別設定,比較麻煩。GSA5.0配備用於訪問ECM的“Enterprise Connector Framework”。輸入EMC公司的“Documentum”、IBM公司的“FileNet”、OpenText公司的“Livelink”以及微 軟公司的“SharePoint”等由ECM管理的文件和內容中的關鍵詞等,即可自動登錄GSA5.0的索引。檢索對象的文件格式有220種。安全方面, 支援微軟的綜合認證系統“Windows Integrated Authentication”。

  此外,在用戶輸入檢索關鍵詞的過程中,還能顯示此前提出或保存的查詢,並可由用戶自己定制顯示順序,例如將首席執行官(CEO)的部落格放在檢索結果首位等。價格方面,日本國內為620萬日元起。(記者:內田 泰)


Google Skimps on Its Own Advertising

Google Skimps on Its Own Advertising

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Like a gourmet chef who rarely eats out, Google Inc. feeds advertising services to hordes of other businesses while skimping on its own marketing.

The recipe has been extremely fruitful. While the Internet search leader has sold more than $30 billion in advertising since 2001, Google has become a household name without buying expensive ad campaigns on television or radio or in print.

"It's almost as if they have this cultural allergy to advertising," said Mark Hughes, author of "Buzzmarketing," a book about unconventional ways to build a brand. "It has been an advantage because it has helped keep them cool. They have zigged while everyone else has been zagging."

This advertising aversion has freed up money for engineers, computing hardware and other resources that fuel Google's search engine while leaving plenty of profit to keep shareholders happy and lift the company's stock ever higher.

Some marketing experts view Google as the archetype of an Internet-driven age that has made it possible for startups like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook to permeate pop culture with little or no advertising.

That's a change from the dot-com boom era in 1999 and 2000 when Internet entrepreneurs went broke paying for Super Bowl ads and other theatrics in a mostly fruitless effort to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were among the first to break that free-spending mold, deciding that advertising didn't make a lot of sense for a company that started out 1998 with just $100,000 before raising $25 million in venture capital a year later. But they have remained marketing misers even as Google accumulated a cash hoard that now stands at $12.5 billion.

The Mountain View-based company believes its austere approach will become more common as major advertisers learn to deploy technology to target consumers.

"We are at an inflection point that could radically change the way marketing is done," said David Lawee, who became Google's marketing chief a year ago.

More than 300,000 advertisers already rely on Google's online marketing platform, which primarily shows text-based ads on the search engine's results pages and other online destinations.

Google tries to deliver those ads to the people who are most likely to be interested in the messages, making an educated guess based on the words used in a search request as well as information gathered about visitors' past preferences and Web surfing patterns.

Drawing upon some of the same data-mining techniques, Google is developing marketing tools for TV, radio, print and even video games to help advertisers reach potential customers more effectively — and perhaps less expensively.

Although Google regularly promotes its brand and services on its own online ad network, that soapbox hasn't been the key to its ubiquity.

Instead, Google has relied on word-of-mouth and the media's obsessive coverage of its every move to establish a prized brand just nine years after Page and Brin first set up shop in a Silicon Valley garage.

Consulting firm Millward Brown Optimor estimates Google's brand is worth $66 billion and calls it the world's most valuable. A separate study by Interbrand estimated the brand's value at $17.8 billion and ranked it 20th in the world.

While major rivals like Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. pour more than 20 percent of their annual revenue into sales and marketing, Google devoted 8 percent of its revenue to the category in 2006, spending a total of $849.5 million. Microsoft spent $11.5 billion on marketing and sales in its last fiscal year, while Yahoo spent $1.3 billion. On advertising and promotions alone, Google spent $188 million in 2006 — roughly the same amount Microsoft spends every two months.

Another Internet bellwether, online auctioneer eBay Inc., consistently earmarks 14 percent to 15 percent of its revenue for advertising. Last year, eBay spent $871 million on advertising, with much of the money winding up in Google's wallet. The Coca-Cola Co., the brand ranked first in the Interbrand survey, spent more than $2.5 billion on advertising last year.

When Google does buy ads, it's often to recruit employees (the company has hired more than 11,000 in the past three years). On a few occasions, Google also has bought ads to highlight lesser-known products, such as a free telephone directory service, GOOG-411, recently featured on billboards in the San Francisco Bay area and rural parts of New York.

Some well-known companies are even more frugal advertisers than Google.

Starbucks Corp. spent just $95 million on advertising last year, 49 percent less than Google did. Like Google, Starbucks made a name for itself by developing a distinctive product that quickly resonated with consumers whose enthusiasm became infectious.

Google believes happy users are worth infinitely more than any goodwill advertising might buy, said marketing chief Lawee.

"If our products are great, our reputation soars," he said.

Google's brand also has been bolstered by the media's fixation on the company. Hardly a day goes by without Google's name being splattered across television, radio, magazines, newspapers and, of course, the Internet. That gives the company even more clout with advertisers and even less reason to advertise itself.

"They are at the crest of this wave that gives them a lot of free publicity," said Roland Rust, chairman of the University of Maryland's marketing department.

Google has proven adept at orchestrating stories that have little to do with its day-to-day business.

The company attracted headlines last month by funding a $30 million race to the moon. And it made news last year by investing in solar energy to power its headquarters. Some news outlets even filed stories on Google's 2005 search for a new executive chef.

Not all the coverage has been flattering, but even negative stories build brand recognition. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said the company benefited from a spike in usage of its search engine after The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Page and Brin engaged in a petty spat about the size of the beds on their personal jet.

Industry experts say Google may have to invest more heavily in advertising as it branches in new directions.

It already is selling a suite of online software applications to businesses and reportedly is mulling lending its name to a line of mobile phones. Ventures like those typically rely on more conventional advertising.

"It's inevitable that they will have to advertise more," said veteran marketing consultant Bob Kahn, who runs his a Darien, Conn., firm. "At some point, the power of the Google brand will cease to support all those extremities."

Although he declined to provide specifics, Lawee also hinted that Google probably will need to increase its marketing budget because many longtime users of the search engine don't know about the company's peripheral products.

"Even with all the attention we get," he said, "that tells me we are still not getting all our messages out."

2007年10月14日 星期日

Google News Alert for: google

今天的Google News Alert for: google似乎多有意思

Google Vows to Increase Gmail Limit
Slashdot - USA
An anonymous reader writes "Google claims that people are devouring capacity with photos and other attachments on its Gmail e-mail service faster than the ...
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Coming Week: Google Time
TheStreet.com - USA
16's recent market bottom, Google is up 31%, Apple (AAPL - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) is up 43% and Baidu (BIDU - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) is up a ...
See all stories on this topic

Google phone, Google phone OS, Google apps – or just Google Ads
Register - London,England,UK
It's this shifting landscape that seems to have caught us all out when trying to predict what Skype, or Apple and now Google are doing on mobile devices and ...
See all stories on this topic

I'm gaga for Google
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
Google. How do I love thee — and how do I hate thee and thy googlicious ways? I Google everything — breaking news, celebrity gossip, fashion blogs, ...
See all stories on this topic

Google's mobile project stokes stock price, debate
MarketWatch - USA
By John Letzing, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Wall Street has gotten a hold of little or nothing in the way of concrete details about Google ...
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Random House Finally Joining the Google Book Scanning Fold?
Wired News - USA
"Random House continues to have periodic constructive conversations with Google on issues of mutual relevance," a representative told the news service on ...
See all stories on this topic

Web's Future Could Be Determined By The Fight Between Google And Nokia
InformationWeek - Manhasset,NY,USA
As I have stated on Over The Air before, Google is committed to mobile as its future and the future of the global Internet. ...
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Galloping Google Propels Tech Funds
TheStreet.com - USA
By Kevin Baker What a week for Google (GOOG - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr)! It's stock cuts through $600 a share like a hot knife through butter. ...
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Ballmer: Microsoft's behind Google in ads, search
CNET News.com - San Francisco,CA,USA
"Google is the leader; we're an aspirant." By Tom Espiner ORLANDO, Fla.--Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer says the software giant has a long way to ...
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