【日經BP社報導】谷歌（Google）于美國時間2008年5月19日，發佈了在線醫療資訊管理服務“Google Health”的測試版。此消息是該公司搜索產品及用戶體驗部門副總裁瑪麗莎·梅耶爾（Marissa Mayer）在該公司官方部落格上披露的。通過Google Health，用戶可以在線收集、保存、管理自己的醫療資訊。該服務為免費，但目前只限于美國國內使用。
該公司于2008年2月，與美國克利夫蘭州醫療機構克利夫蘭診所（Cleveland Clinic）合作開展試點項目，進行了Google Health的試運行。CNET科技資訊網（CNET News.com）報導稱，除克利夫蘭診所之外，此次測試版的發佈還得到了馬薩諸塞州貝絲·伊斯雷爾女執事醫療中心（Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center）、處方藥零售商美國郎思藥業（Longs Drugs）和美國沃爾格林（Walgreens）、從事檢查結果管理業務的美國Quest Diagnostics、管理4萬多名醫生所寫病歷的美國AllScripts等的合作。 ■日文原文 「自分のカルテや処方箋を保管」，Googleが医療情報管理サービスのベータ版公開
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Google faces human rights votes
By Anthony Reuben
Business reporter, BBC News
It cannot be easy to be the company that set out with the motto: "don't be evil".
Especially not now.
Google - whose shares currently trade at almost $600 (£300), more than $100 above its level a year ago - is facing two shareholder motions at its annual general meeting on Thursday.
Both insist the company needs to do more to fight censorship and support human rights.
The top three executives at Google control about two-thirds of the voting shares, so neither motion will get a majority.
But that is not the point of the exercise, according to Amnesty International, which will be proposing the first motion at the meeting.
"A lot of shareholders vote and don't attend the meeting but they may pay attention to what happens," says Amy O'Meara, director of business and human rights at Amnesty International USA.
We see technology companies continue to have very vague policies around human rights and frequent violations of their own policies
Jack Ucciferri, Harrington Investments
"We're really looking at it as an opportunity to have an audience to hear what we think about these issues right now and to impress on Google that they really need to move much faster on these issues."
The internet censorship motion originally came from the New York City Comptroller, which looks after the pensions of city employees.
It calls on Google to "use all legal means to resist censorship" and to make it clearer to users if it has "acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access".
Google in China
Most of the criticism relates to Google's Chinese language service Google.cn, which was launched in April 2006.
The company argued that it was better to agree to the Chinese government's censorship rules than to refuse to service Chinese customers altogether.
Google believes the motion ignores what it has done for online freedom
Since then, companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have got together with Amnesty and other organisations and experts to form a multi stakeholder initiative on internet and human rights.
But Amnesty says that much more needs to be done.
"There are often national laws or opportunities within the law in China to stand up against requests by officials to do this kind of censorship and the companies like Google have just complied very easily," Ms O'Meara says.
"They haven't even tried from what we can tell."
Google is opposing the motion, on the grounds that its operations in China are already improving transparency and helping Chinese people access information.
It argues that adopting the proposal would hurt its users and business because it would have to close down Google.cn.
In the past year, it has also been trying to persuade US trade officials to treat censorship like any other barrier to trade.
A similar resolution at last year's shareholders' meeting received 3.8% of shareholder votes.
The second motion calls for the board of directors to form a human rights committee.
It was proposed by Harrington Investments, a California-based investment manager, which has proposed a similar motion at several other big technology companies.
The idea is to stress that human rights are an issue for the board of directors, not just the management.
"Management is relatively transient in nature. Executives, 'sustainability officers' etc. can be hired and fired on a dime," says Jack Ucciferri, research and advocacy director at Harrington.
"If the directors don't formally engage issues, then any other program, policy, or procedure is essentially meaningless in terms of assuring shareholders that these issues are being taken seriously."
Taking the lead
Google believes that its directors are already spending lots of time thinking about human rights and that this motion would not encourage them to pay greater attention to it.
It argues that its directors are engaging with governments to raise awareness about the negative effects of limiting online freedom.
Harrington is actually very enthusiastic about the company and sees its motion as a good opportunity for Google to take the lead on a big issue and create even more value for shareholders.
But the proposals are clearly also a warning to directors about what will happen if human rights issues become problematic.
"We see technology companies continue to have very vague policies around human rights and frequent violations of their own policies," Mr Ucciferri says.
"If boards of directors truly understood the repercussions to the brand and the corporation then they would not tolerate it, they should not tolerate it and if they did tolerate it they should be held accountable."
Google declined to be interviewed about the shareholder motions.
It is a company whose public image has undergone a transformation in recent months.
It used to be the popular little search engine company battling against the big boys such as Microsoft.
The ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Microsoft to buy Yahoo! has changed all that.
Google has now been characterised as the giant of online advertising that other players have to manoeuvre to compete with.The company may find that, as a result, its efforts to "do no evil" will come under even greater scrutiny in coming years.
How Google’s Checkbook Stymied Microsoft
By Saul Hansell
Shortly after Microsoft announced its hostile bid for Yahoo, Google objected and raised the prospect that it would lobby government regulators to block any merger.
As it turned out, Google was very much the spoiler in the deal. But its most effective weapon was not threats or coercion, but its very effective, and unconventional, use of its own checkbook.
Google has agreed to sell some search advertising for Yahoo. And since Google earns far more on every search than its rivals do, this will mean an immediate increase in Yahoo’s profits.
Microsoft’s chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, said the prospect of such a deal that could deprive Microsoft of being able to sell all Yahoo’s search ads made proceeding with a hostile takeover less attractive. And Yahoo hopes the promise of a big check each quarter from Google will placate enough shareholders to head off a revolt over its decision to turn down Microsoft’s offer of $33 per share.
It is a rare company that will help its biggest rival this way. And Google’s offer is all the more unusual because it does not neutralize Yahoo as a potential future competitor, at least explicitly.
According to what we know so far about the arrangement, Google will sell ads on some of the most popular terms on Yahoo’s search engine, giving Yahoo the vast bulk of the revenue (as it always does with sites for which it sells ads). Yahoo’s stated plan is to take that money and continue to develop its own search advertising system that is meant to rival Google. When Yahoo’s own technology is good enough, it will presumably start selling its own ads for all its terms, and try to destroy the company that had thrown it a lifeline in its time of need.
Why would Google do this?
Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, portrayed the move as a gesture of friendship.
“It’s nice to be working with Yahoo,” he told analysts last month. “We like them very much.”
There even may be a bit of truth to that. Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, indeed have been friendly with Jerry Yang and David Filo, the founders of Yahoo. All four of them studied, and cooked up their companies, at Stanford.
Moreover, Yahoo gave Google its key break, hiring the fledgling company to power the searches on Yahoo.com. Many suggest that Google would never have established itself with Internet users were it not for the promotion it received from Yahoo, which put Google’s name and logo on every Yahoo search results page. So perhaps Google is indeed trying to return a favor.
The other explanation, not mutually exclusive, is that Google fears Microsoft far more than it fears Yahoo. That’s odd, perhaps, because in Google’s the most important markets, Web search and online advertising, Yahoo now is a bigger and more effective competitor than Microsoft.
But Microsoft has far more money and engineering bench strength than Yahoo does, so Google may fear it more in the long run. Moreover, Microsoft has quite a history trying to best rivals through tough tactics and exploitation of its Windows franchise.
Google has made no secret over the years that the rival it is most concerned about is Microsoft, and it has raised several objections to the prospect of a merger. In any case, a combination of Microsoft and Yahoo could be a tougher competitor to Google than either separately.
Most significantly, Google acts as if it has the confidence that it can win in the market, even if it makes deals that look very advantageous to others. Google has long, for example, provided a very rich advertising deal to Ask.com, a smaller rival. Ask has also tried to build its own search advertising system, with little impact so far.
Google understands that there is a powerful network effect in search advertising. That is, the more search ads it handles, the more money it will make and the harder it will be for anyone else to build a competing system. The more searches it handles, the more advertisers it attracts. And the more bidders in its auction, the higher the prices it will enjoy.
By attracting a commanding share of the search advertising activity, Google also has the best data with which to create equations that maximize the money it makes from each search. It turns out that picking which ad to display when is a subtle art that can have a great effect. Yahoo estimated that until recently, Google earned twice as much on each search than it did.
So while Google is giving Yahoo a fair bit of aid in the short run, I suspect that it is betting that in the long run this deal is going to sap Yahoo’s ability to build an effective search advertising system. That’s because Yahoo will have even less volume of searches to attract customers, raise bids and give it data with which to improve its ad selection technology.
I do believe that Google’s management very much wants to triumph over Microsoft. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they are getting a bit of extra enjoyment because they are doing so by smiling and passing out money, rather than through the bravado and coercion that has often characterized Microsoft.
Searching to get to the top of Google
Firms are investing in search-engine optimisation to get themselves noticed on the internetJames Ashton
THE hotels website Superbreak had a problem three years ago. The volume of traffic arriving at its web pages was worryingly low. Surfers were confused by cybersquatters trying to pass themselves off as the business and, to make matters worse, it shared the same name as a popular brand of American rucksacks.
Search-engine optimisation (SEO) proved to be the answer.
Part crystal-ball watching, part trial and error, it is the practice of improving lacklustre internet commerce by getting a firm noticed on the results pages of search engines. And it is perhaps the fastest-growing sector in the marketing industry.
Cracking the code of how search engines like Google work is forecast to be a £400m industry in Britain alone this year and it is growing at 60% a year.
Superbreak called in the experts to ensure its name rose to the top of search lists when users tapped in queries for “short break” and “hotel break” into Google or other search engines.
The plan involved redrawing every web page to focus on the word “break”, simplifying its design, and making information more sharply relevant to weekend trippers.
“It was like replumbing an entire city,” said David Ranby, Superbreak’s internet-marketing manager.
The benefits of coming top of search lists are clear. Although click-through rates vary from query to query, results that make the second page or lower of a Google search stand only a 1% chance of being clicked on. Not surprisingly, the top result on the first page gets perhaps half of all clicks.
Revenues at Superbreak’s hotels division have risen to £154m a year and Ranby says the SEO programme is responsible for 35% of the increase in online revenues over the past three years.
It is no easy task to work out how to get a website to the top of the results thrown up by a search engine. Google — which with 85% of the search-engine market in Britain is by far the dominant player — keeps tweaking how its algorithms read web pages and indexes them.
“There are 200 signals that determine a page’s relevance,” said Matthew Trewhella, Google’s developer advocate. “Imagine it as a big wall of dials with a bunch of people turning them slightly every day.”
While Google offers plenty of guidance and advice, it won’t tell companies exactly how its system works.
“You have to accept that it is a moving target,” said Paul Way, digital-business director for CMP Information, a division of the publisher United Business Media that houses more than 40 trade websites, including Building.co.uk.
“That is good for the consumer but as a publisher it needs work to stay on top of.”
Most companies achieve SEO by peppering their websites with keywords that Google’s technology can easily read.
“You have to be thorough and you have to be consistent,” said Way.
He cites SEO work done with the search agency Leapfrogg on its Info4security site that pushed up its top five appearances in industry word searches from 256 last September to 762 by January. Approval by Google News also raised its profile.
Such results mean that spending on SEO grew faster than pay-per-click online advertising — also known as paid search — for the first time in Britain last year.
SEO addresses “natural” search results that appear in the left column of the Google page, while pay-per-click relates to keywords it auctions to create the sponsored links ranked on the right-hand side and often shaded at the top. For a decade, these have been the moneymaking meat of the search industry.
The specialist online site E-consultancy said spending on SEO rose by 68% to £250m in the UK last year, compared with a 56% rise in pay-per-click spending to £1.97 billion.
Microsoft, which last week souped up its own search site with an easier-to-use system, thinks that pay per click in Europe, Middle East and Africa could grow by only 20% next year. There are two reasons for this.
First, pay per click is extremely buoyant compared with traditional media and its cost is rising quickly. Search marketers argue there is little point in, say, banks paying £15 to Google every time they want to be connected to a customer that has entered “credit card” into a search form. With a conversion rate of one in 100, it takes a long time to earn a return. Even more targeted searches, say for “student credit card”, have shot up in price.
Firms have also worked out that more than half of all web searches do not involve a transaction. To appeal to window shoppers, they are better off polishing their reputation and profile with future trade in mind.
And then there are increasingly shrewd customers to contend with. They often take against being spoon-fed overtly commercial messages by never clicking on a result from the right side of the page.
“Big firms are looking more at SEO than pay per click because they realise that consumers are becoming aware the listings on the side and top of the page are paid for and that natural listings are in some cases more credible and more relevant,” said Rebecca Jennings, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Her firm forecasts that spending on pay per click in America will increase between 2007 and 2012 by 125% to $10.1 billion (£5.1 billion), compared with SEO soaring 365% to $8.9 billion.
As well as using appropriate vocabulary, a website also needs to be well-networked to gain traction. Links to esteemed websites such as the BBC or a national newspaper act as advocates for its content, boosting its ranking with Google.
“It is more about who you get to your party, not how many people,” said Steve Leach, chief executive of Bigmouthmedia, the SEO firm that was called in to revive Superbreak’s website.
The name of Leach’s firm pops up almost first among 38m results — below only the sponsored links and ubiquitous Wikipedia entry — when you tap “search engine optimisation” into Google.
Historically, boosting a site’s volume of web links has been easy. But Google has been clamping down on “link farms” — machine-generated websites created purely to connect with the central site to make it look more popular than it really is.
Offenders have had their rankings reduced on the back of such exploitative behaviour in the past. Google went so far as to suspend the carmaker BMW from its search index for two days in early 2006, although the carmaker denied any wrongdoing.
“The vast majority of SEO firms are good,” said Trewhella at Google. “But it is a constant battle. They will do one thing; we will discover it; they will do something else.”
While Google welcomes SEO for making searches easier and findings better quality, it doesn’t make any money from the left column of listings. Instead, it hopes better searching means more use, yielding it its fair share of clicks on paid-for links.
Fredrick Marckini, the chief global-search officer at Isobar, part of the media buyer Aegis, said SEO was no threat to the search engine’s business model.
“There are no $10m SEO engagements but there are many $10m, $20m and even $100m pay-per-click search-advertising engagements. SEO is a necessary and critical component.”
Marckini argues that the shift in spending patterns is beginning to better mirror consumer behaviour. He cites research that shows 72% of web users click on natural listings and not on the paid ads.
“The European market seems to spend money on search marketing in a way that is inconsistent with the way the audience is using search engines,” he said. “European marketers must place a higher priority on natural SEO to more successfully target their audience.”
Of the two, SEO was invented first, with the concept of paying for positions in search results introduced only a decade ago by Goto.com, now part of Yahoo. Its renewed importance is only set to grow.
“This presents a great evolution opportunity for the advertising agencies,” said Chris Dobson, acting boss of Microsoft’s online UK business. “It shows you need a human touch to add value to technology platforms on behalf of clients.”
Google wins from end of Microsoft-Yahoo affair: analysts
9 hours ago
NEW YORK (AFP) — Microsoft's failed attempt to buy Yahoo will send it searching for new allies and likely see Yahoo's share price plummet, leaving Internet giant Google the big winner, analysts said.
Microsoft announced Saturday that it had given up its quest for the struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo, which rejected Microsoft's offer even after it raised the original bid by five billion to more than 46 billion dollars.
The announcement ended three months of overtures by the software giant, which wanted to merge its Internet resources with Yahoo's worldwide offerings to gain ground on undisputed online advertising juggernaut Google.
Google meanwhile has increased its share of the Internet search engine market and multiplied its innovations. The firm recently also announced a way to refine its image searches, based on technology that recognizes images, not text.
Analysts believe moreover that the Microsoft-Yahoo talks have benefited Google, and suggest Microsoft did well to cut them short.
"Microsoft did the smart thing -- they walked," said Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle. "Yahoo's stock price is going to come down like a rock on Monday."
Experts were surprised that Yahoo did not accept what was considered a generous offer and predict that its stock price, bereft of the prop of Microsoft's bid, will plunge even further.
Before Microsoft's offer on February 1 to buy Yahoo for 31 dollars per share, Yahoo was trading at just 19 dollars and was on the decline, having lost 33 percent of its value since October 2007.
"Yahoo is going to have to convince the market they are worth more than they were before the Microsoft offer," Gartner analyst Van Baker told AFP.
Analysts are also questioning whether Microsoft is not banking on Yahoo's share price dropping so it can make another, possibly lower, offer.
"They could be betting Yahoo's stock price is going to collapse and they will be able to get it for even less," Baker said.
Others believe Microsoft will give up on Yahoo as it continues to lose ground to Google, and move its attention elsewhere. It could buy AOL, part of Time Warner, online marketing firm ValueClick or even social networking site MySpace.
"There are other acquisitions Microsoft can make which, when multiplied, could put them in a better position than buying Yahoo," Baker said.
In its statement Saturday, Microsoft raised the possibility of deals with "other business partners."
Despite its near-monopoly in the global computer market thanks to its Windows and Office software, Microsoft remains a dwarf on the Internet, with less than three percent of the search market.
Its core business is also facing competition from software available online and often for free, financed by advertising, such as that provided by Google.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are fighting over the emerging online ad market, which is worth more than 40 billion dollars and is expected to double by 2010. Google has a 30-percent share, Yahoo 14 percent and Microsoft six percent.
Microsoft is losing money on its online services, and has increased its purchases in this area. Its chief executive Steve Ballmer said last year that 25 percent of its revenue would eventually come from online advertising.
In the last few months, the group has acquired Norwegian search engine Fast, marketing firm aQuantive, it has taken 1.6 percent of Facebook, and acquired ScreenTonic, which deals with mobile phone ads, and TellMe voice query services.
Yahoo is also on the search for a new strategy, and recently announced a limited test of Google's AdSense for Search service, which would deliver Google ads alongside Yahoo's own search results -- strengthening Google's hand further.
The Real Threat to Google
As more consumers browse the Web on their cell phones, the No. 1 search engine must cope with less space to place ads
No, one of the most formidable challenges facing Google (GOOG) is likely sitting in your pocket or purse. It's your cell phone, and it will put added pressure on Google and other Internet companies to revamp the way they handle online marketing.
As more people use cell phones and their tiny glass screens to gain access to the Internet, Google and its fellow online advertisers will have less space, or what's called ad inventory, to place marketing messages for customers. Google makes money selling ad inventory. And its ad inventory is diminished on a cell phone.
iPhone as Tipping Point
Google can now fit about 10 ads on a standard computer screen. (If you look at Google search results on a PC monitor, paid ads are the listings at the very top and along the right.) But on your cell phone, if you type in a search query at google.com you get only one or two paid ads in response.
Imagine the horror that would befall your business if a large slice of what you sell suddenly disappeared. A similar fate could befall companies that depend on online advertising, as small screens become the gateway to the Internet.
Of course, no one's suggesting that consumers will abandon standard computer screens overnight. And early research shows that mobile advertising may be more effective than standard online advertising, suggesting that it will be more lucrative for the companies that rely on it. Still, the shift is coming fast enough that Google must get prepared.
It was Apple (AAPL), a frequent Google collaborator, that tipped the trend. Consumer use of mobile Internet in the U.S. has longed trailed Asia and Europe, where standardized cell networks made it easier for handset makers to produce gadgets that tap the Web at blazingly fast speeds. But in the summer of 2007, Apple rocked America by launching the iPhone. The computer maker wasn't the first to put the Web on phones, but for many consumers, the iPhone made the experience more robust.
Almost two-thirds of Americans have had some experience with mobile Internet use, and the adoption trend is most pronounced among teens and young adults, according to Pew Research Center. About 60% of adults 18 to 29 use text messaging every day, compared with only 14% of their parents. Nearly one-third of young adults use mobile Internet. This is the future, because people take their media habits with them as they age.
Why Google Wants In on Cell Phones
So, as Apple and demographic trends thrust the mobile Internet upon us, how will advertisers and we consumers of electronics respond?
Google will try to expand ad "shelf space," especially by redesigning cell-phone software. In November, Google announced it was launching an Open Handset Alliance to design a new operating system, code-named Android, which would provide a "truly open and comprehensive platform" for cell-phone users. A few scratched their heads as to why Google would get into the cell-phone interface business. But now it's clear; Web screens will soon be two inches wide, and Google wants a say in what fits on that tiny screen.
Our bet is that the new Android interface will encourage mobile device users to flick through multiple layers or pages, similar to the iPhone album-art menu. This will create more room for ads. Expanding the visual ad inventory will be crucial for Google, as evidenced by the recent announcement that it will begin selling small display ads on cell-phone screens.
Another implication is that consumers may have to start paying for "free" stuff. Sure, there's a lot that's free on the Web now, as many, including Chris Anderson of Wired, have noted. Yet, even Anderson notes that most "free" content models really just transfer the hidden cost from you to third-party advertisers, who subsidize your content in hopes of getting attention. If online social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Digg can't figure out ways to entice money from advertisers, they'll have to grab it from you.
More Personal Ads on the Way
Our hunch is that free content systems may stick to the big Web pages, where more ads can fit. For tiny screens, systems such as Twitter that work well in small detail will eventually have to charge, make money some other way, or go away. Consumers push back on paying for something that is already free, so the only solution we see is to keep ads very minimal—and very personal.
Which brings us to one of the biggest implications of wider use of the mobile Web. Advertisers will increasingly rely on personalization. Today, collections of Web sites known as ad networks track consumer behavior across multiple sites, and then shoot targeted ads to users. This behavioral targeting approach, found via WPP Group's (WPPGY) 24/7 Real Media, Blue Lithium, Tremor Media, and other Web networks, often results in ad response rates 5 to 10 times higher than standard banner ads.
Personalization works, and several companies are working on ways to make it work better. Microsoft recently filed a patent application that would use offline data such as credit-card transactions, estimated physical location (from cell-phone towers), and TV viewing habits to serve you a customized ad the next time you go online. The fact that you bought cleats for your kids this morning, went to a high school football game in the afternoon, and turned on ESPN when you got home would conceivably trigger a personalized sports ad on your cell phone.
Better Marketing Through Profiling
ComScore (SCOR), the Web site ranking service, is taking a different approach, using "biometric signature" profiling to match the keystrokes and mouse-click patterns of different users on a single computer. The idea here is to get beyond the gadget to the individual user who touches it. The system can identify whether Dad or Mom or Sis is sitting at the keyboard, and then match the individual user with a rich profile of demographic data to improve ad targeting.
Pondering all this, we called Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to see what concerns privacy groups might have about a future where marketers track your every move. "Personalization is actually a great idea," Rotenberg said, "but it should be done in a way that doesn't require detailed data collection" about an individual.
It's a nice hope, Rotenberg's, that advertising and Google can survive in a world where the ways to reach consumers via glass screens grow smaller and smaller. But we suspect hyperintrusive data profiling is coming fast.
After all, Internet screens will soon be a lot smaller. And no one as rich or as smart as Google gives up so crucial a slice of sales without fighting back.
Kunz is director of strategic planning for Mediassociates, a media planning firm.
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