2008年7月30日 星期三

Newsnight editor moves to Google


Newsnight editor moves to Google

Peter Barron
Barron's films on the arms to Iraq affair won a Royal Television Society award

The editor of Newsnight, Peter Barron, has resigned from the BBC Two programme to join internet search giant Google.

He has spent 12 years at the late-evening show, having worked behind the scenes for most of the 1990s before taking up his current job in 2004.

Mr Barron also had roles at Channel 4 News and Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

He will become Google's head of PR for the UK, Ireland and Benelux. "We are very sorry to lose Peter," said the BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden.

"His creativity and brilliant journalism have made Newsnight so impressive over the last few years," she added.

"However this is a unique opportunity for him and we wish him well as he moves to Google."

As well as his work at the BBC, Mr Barron was also the advisory chair at last year's Edinburgh TV Festival, an annual conference for the media industry.

The BBC said it hoped to appoint an editor for Newsnight "in the autumn".

Google could not confirm when Mr Barron would take up his job, but a spokeswoman hailed the "wealth of experience" which she said would make him "a great addition" to the company.

談Google Knol和Cuil

2008年7月30日 星期三

談Google Knol和Cuil

最近幾天我有機會用deming相關的字眼來測試google 的 knol和它的對手 cuil


Google`s Wikipedia Answer: A Second Shooter on the Google Knol ...
eWeek - New York, NY
By Jack Margo Google Knol tries to out Wiki Wikipedia. Just as you settled on Wikipedia as your de-facto source for all information, Google Knol jumps onto ...

然而對於大部分人而言 wikipedisa的已夠用

google的knol 現在還很貧乏 似乎只英文
我看read beads experiment 許多偏見 差得多


New Search Engine Boasts Depth
Start-up Cuil plans to introduce a search engine that claims to cover three times as many Web pages as Google. It aims to deliver better results than other major search engines by searching across more pages and studying them more accurately.

用GOOGLE查該公司 有簡體字新聞


We’ll be back soon...

Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.

Thanks for your patience.

之後我進去試用 deming 來查這種號稱以context為主導的搜索引擎




而google 可能更多資料 讓讀者更困惑

2008年7月28日 星期一


New Search Engine Boasts Depth
Start-up Cuil plans to introduce a search engine that claims to cover three times as many Web pages as Google. It aims to deliver better results than other major search engines by searching across more pages and studying them more accurately.

用GOOGLE查該公司 有簡體字新聞


We’ll be back soon...

Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.

Thanks for your patience.

之後我進去試用 deming 來查這種號稱以context為主導的搜索引擎




而google 可能更多資料 讓讀者更困惑

2008年7月26日 星期六

Google claims 1 trillion Web pages

Tech Notebook: Google claims 1 trillion Web pages

SEARCH ENGINE SMACK DOWN: When it comes to search engines, size matters - at least to Google.

After years of silence about the vastness of its Web index, Google announced Friday it had found 1 trillion unique Web pages. "We're proud to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine, and our goal always has been to index all the world's data," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

A bit of history: In August 2005, a similar claim put forward by Yahoo that it had indexed 20 billion URLs prompted a public rebuke from Google. "Our scientists are not seeing the increase claimed in the Yahoo index," a Google representative told blogger and search expert John Battelle.

A month later, Google asserted it had indexed 26 billion URLS and was "more than 3 times larger than any other search engine."

But if Google was hoping for a fight, it didn't find one. Yahoo didn't have an immediate comment Friday, and Microsoft declined to engage, saying in a statement that its index is "one of the largest in the industry."

2008年7月25日 星期五

Knol hosted by Google

經過七個月試驗,搜尋引擎龍頭Google廿三日正式推出專家版線上百科「Knol」。Knol訴諸權威,由專業人士署名撰寫內容並負文責,是最大特色。 Knol取自Knowledge(知識),是「一個知識單位」的意思。Google去年十二月起邀集專家試寫,現在自認對某一知識領域有專精研究和相當認識者,都可以上Knol闢寫條目。Knol的網址是knol.google.com。 Knol和維基最大差異是維基作者不具名且幕後編審,Knol則規定作者具名,可附註職業,還可以貼上照片,而且文責自負。Google會查證作者身分,但不篩濾和編修內容,也不為文章正確性背書。 維基的條目不限單一作者,可以是多人合作的成品,且可以隨讀隨改。Knol則走「適度合作」路線,融部落格式個人意見和維基集體編修於一爐。 另一明顯差異是,Knol撰文者可和Google共享廣告收入,進帳數千美元都有可能。 維基現有條目七百萬。Knol則僅有數百條目,許多是醫學類。但維基對絲毫不敢掉以輕心,同日推出美國哈佛與史丹福兩所大學醫學院支援的線上醫學百科Medipedia迎戰。

Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google

Published: December 15, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is testing a new Web service intended to become a repository of knowledge from experts on various topics, one that could turn into a competitor to Wikipedia and other sites.

If it attracts a following, the service could accelerate Google’s transformation from a search engine into a company that helps create and publish Web content. Some critics said that shift could compromise Google’s objectivity in presenting search results.

The service, called Knol, which is short for knowledge, would allow people to create Web pages on any topic. It is designed to include features that permit readers to submit comments, rate pages and suggest changes. However, unlike Wikipedia, which allows anyone to edit an entry, only the author of a “knol,” as the pages in the service would be called, would be allowed to edit. Different authors could have competing pages on the same topic.

Google said that a main idea behind the project was to bring attention to authors who have expertise on a particular topic.

“Somehow the Web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors’ names highlighted,” Udi Manber, vice president for engineering at Google, wrote in an announcement of the test Thursday evening on a Google corporate blog. “We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of Web content.”

Mr. Manber said the goal of Knol was to cover all topics, from science to medicine to history, and for the articles to become “the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read.”

That is often the role played by Wikipedia pages, which frequently turn up at or near the top of results presented by Google and other search engines.

“I think Google is looking at the growth of sites like Wikipedia, that aggregate knowledge, and feels it has to play in that space,” said Danny Sullivan, a search expert and editor of the Web site Search Engine Land.

Several other services have taken different approaches in their efforts to become repositories of knowledge on various topics. They include Yahoo Answers, Squidoo, Mahalo and About.com, which is owned by The New York Times Company.

Despite the existence of these services, as well as countless free tools for experts and ordinary people alike to share what they know online, Mr. Manber said Google thought many people who possessed useful knowledge did not publish it “because it is not easy enough to do that.”

Google declined to make Mr. Manber or anyone else available to discuss Knol, saying the project was an experiment that like many Google tests, might never be opened to the public.

While many technology analysts and bloggers noted that Knol appeared to be a direct competitor to Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, that site’s founder, shrugged off the potential challenge.

Mr. Wales said that Google’s service would encourage competing, opinionated articles on any topic, whereas Wikipedia strived for objectivity and had a single article per topic that represented the collective knowledge of its authors.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what it ends up looking like,” Mr. Wales said.

Knol and Wikipedia would be different in other ways. While Wikipedia is a not-for-profit and ad-free endeavor, Knol has a more commercial bent: Authors could choose to have Google place ads on their pages and would get part of the revenue.

“At some point, Google crosses the line, where they are not only a search engine, but also a content provider,” Mr. Sullivan said. Technically speaking, he said, authors, not Google, would create Knol pages. “But it matters how it appears,” he said. “I do a search on Google, I go to some place that Google hosts and I also find Google ads.”

What’s more, Mr. Sullivan said, Google’s goal of making Knol pages easy to find on search engines could conflict with its need to remain unbiased. Google already carries content generated by users in a variety of services, including YouTube, the photo storage site Picasa and Blogger.

hc評:就中文而言 百度已做此舉 不過 希望Google贏

"Forrester Research分析師柏諾夫說,Google擁有網路使用者入口網站「首頁」以及呈現搜尋結果的「第二頁」,但提供內容的「第三頁」,Google付之 闕如,反被Yahoo!超前,導致使用者常常自第二頁連結到對手的網站。如今Google終於補足缺口,跨入內容領域。
然而Google積極發展 內容的野心,也令識者憂心它在網路資訊取得管道上,掌握過於龐大的主導權。Google搜尋引擎上月的市佔率已達69%,但之前使用者至少在點閱搜尋結果 後,就能離開它的掌控;Google knol啟用後,情況可能大不相同。儘管Google信誓旦旦,會「適當」安排knol在搜尋結果中的順序,但實際情況仍有待觀察。"編譯李寧怡

- 2007 十二月 15

Google 的挖金腦筋真是沒話說:Google即將推出Google版維基百科,但觀念和設計較維基似乎更勝一籌,撰文者具名,以昭內容信實和充實,附上作者玉照以 鼓勵負責和榮譽感,最厲害的是,撰文者如果同意Google在其大文旁邊掛廣告,Google會支付「可觀」廣告營收。維基碰到危機? 可能還不至於,但專家說,維基真的碰到對手了。





第二個差異是每條知識可有數篇文章並列,而且文責自負,Google本身不當編輯,不對文章增刪損益。維基的文章基本上是合作式,經常合數文為一,以求周 全。Google保存原作,數文並列,讀者提問、評論,適者生存。Google聲明不敢保證來稿都權威、高水準,但事關自己毀譽成敗,文章作者為求大作獲 得問津,應該會珍惜羽毛,審慎下筆。第三個重要差異是,Knol不但是明星製造機,還會是Google又一部印鈔機。Google是全球頭號搜尋引擎,文 章作者自由要不要Google在她或他的大作版面掛廣告,要的話,Google和她或他分享收益。寫文章而以如此方便的平台裨益社會,且出名又獲利。

2008年7月24日 星期四

Battle in the cloud: Microsoft vs. Google

"...In short, Google's approach to cloud computing is revolutionary, while Microsoft's is evolutionary. Live Mesh appeals to the status quo, which should make it the easier sell. And yet Google's momentum is undeniable.

For now, customers are free to decide which model better suits their individual workflows and requirements. Independent developers, on the other hand, face a more difficult choice. Do they follow Google's lead down the road of "pure" cloud computing, where both documents and applications exist solely in the cloud? Or do they take a cue from Microsoft and push data into the cloud, while still relying on traditional desktop applications to create and manage the data?..."

Battle in the cloud: Microsoft vs. Google

Microsoft, with Live Mesh, may be following Google's lead in cloud computing, but when it comes to implementation, the two could not be more different, both technically and philosophically. But it's Google's model that represents the radical departure.

"In it, the cloud is the computer, from alpha to omega. Because there are no disks or volumes for the user to maintain, there is no need for the artificial concept of "files" or a file system to store them in. Persistent storage is reduced to an abstract concept: All that exist are applications and their associated documents," Neil McAllister explains in this week's installment of Fatal Exception.

No wonder Google makes Microsoft antsy, McAllister adds.

Posted by Tom Sullivan on July 24, 2008 08:13 AM

Google's Wicked 'Pedia

Knol hosted by Google


Google's Wicked 'Pedia

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz July 24, 2008 Comments (0)

It's been seven months since Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) introduced Knol, a Wikipedia knockoff that raises the stakes by offering original authors opportunities for content control, acclaim, and cold, hard cash.

The site's holiday launch last year invited select contributors to flesh out Knol's knowledge base with original content. Now that Google has all of the kinks worked out, it's ready to take Knol Web-wide. Big G opened the floodgates yesterday, allowing anyone to sign up and begin contributing.

What a tangled wiki we weave
Google's chances look good. Wikipedia's anonymity and ad-free design are virtuous, but some writers need better incentives. Web 2.0 is about collaborative experiences, but nothing beats motivating an audience. Google knows this already; it's introduced ways for contributors to make some pocket change by blogging through its Blogger.com or joining the partner program on YouTube.

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) offers points through its Askville Q&A site; they'll ultimately be redeemable for prizes through its oft-delayed Questville site. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) raised eyebrows when it offered online shoppers cash rebates through its comparison-shopping site, but if you offer someone the option of making money, or doing the same thing and not making money, more often than not they'll go for the money.

Knol is hoping to scratch that itch. Now that budding reference scribers can receive credit for their writings, and even profit from them if they opt in to the Google AdSense program, let's see whether Knol can straddle the thin line between commercialization and integrity.

Risks and rewards
Since Knol allows different authors the ability to create pages for the same topic, will it be flooded with inferior content, plagiarism, and gamers who vote down rival pages to boost their own exposure? This is either the most brilliant thing that Google has ever done, or the dumbest.

Either way, give Google points for being ambitious. Taking Knol public isn't the safest move. The site's not exactly original, even in its monetization spin. Rivals like Squidoo have been doing essentially the same thing for some time.

Other wiki sites like Answers.com's (Nasdaq: ANSW) WikiAnswers and Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS) Quamut don't offer ad revenue-sharing options, but they do offer a little more flexibility in expressive freedom and crediting the original author.

Google's entry is notable because, well, it's from Google. With a little landing-page exposure for Knol, it should soon trail only Wikipedia in popularity. But does Google actually want that to happen?

If article quality goes unchecked, or the community goes click-crazy, a renegade Knol could hurt the Google brand. Many years ago, Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO) Overture and Miva's (Nasdaq: MIVA) FindWhat.com were two of the few profitable contextual marketing specialists. Yahoo! is holding its own, but Miva has eroded all the way down a dollar-menu stock price. FindWhat had to tackle fraudulent click allegations, and credibility is everything when it comes to wooing prospective sponsors.

Optimistic slant
The upside, on the other hand, is huge. If Knol's entries rival the artfully democratized balance of Wikipedia -- to the point that Google feels that the Knol pages are worth ranking above Wikipedia entries on its own site -- there's a lot of money to be made.

Google a term, any term, and Wikipedia is likely to have a high-ranking entry. Google doesn't make a cent if you check it out, since Wikipedia is an ad-free website. However, if a similar Knol page is visited instead, and the visitor is won over by a targeted ad on the page, Google -- and the Knol author -- make a little money.

Absent that, Knol will flop. If it becomes a closed community of fellow Knol contributors -- who know that clicking on your own Google ads is a quick way to get booted from the program -- Knol will do little more than serve a ton of pages without generating leads for sponsors. Google doesn't want that, either, so its best bet is to aim as high as it can.

Knol made it this far. It's too late to turn back now.

Further Knol-edgable Foolishess:

2008年7月23日 星期三



究公司易觀國際(Analysys International)週三稱﹐今年第二季度中國搜索引擎市場上百度在線網絡技術公司(Baidu.com Inc., 簡稱﹕百度)相對谷歌(Google Inc.)的領先優勢進一步擴大。





雅 虎中國(Yahoo China)在搜索引擎市場佔有率位居第三位﹐遠遠落後於百度和谷歌﹐而且還在繼續下降﹔雅虎中國第二季度市場佔有率降至5.5%﹐第一季度為8.3%。 雅虎中國是阿里巴巴集團(Alibaba Group)旗下子公司﹐雅虎公司(Yahoo! Inc.)持有阿里巴巴集團39%的股份。

Aaron Back

2008年7月22日 星期二


因為找不到 google trends
Labs.google.com, Google's technology playground.
Google labs showcases a few of our favorite ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time. Your feedback can help us improve them. Please play with these prototypes and send your comments directly to the Googlers who developed them.


2008年7月18日 星期五

Google, a Range-Trade Stock

Google, a Range-Trade Stock

Google, last three yearsIt seems bizarre when thinking about it, but Google Inc. is now a stock stuck in a trading range.

The company’s earnings report, viewed as a disappointment after the Internet-search giant cautioned about economic weakness for the first time (even bringing on the firm’s chief economist to talk macro issues on its conference call), has shares sagging, down $47.03 to $486.04, or 9% Friday.

After its stratospheric rise to a 52-week high of $747.24, reached Nov. 7, 2007, the stock has fallen sharply, and has spent the last couple of months bouncing between about $480 and $600 a share.

It’s a great example of momentum investors getting out of a name that doesn’t have the upward momentum that people want,” says Kim Caughey, senior investment analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. “The economy isn’t giving them a tailwind, and international growth is good, but not enough to overcome the trend which is slowing growth.”

Part of the dissatisfaction from investors relates to Google’s reliance on advertising-based revenue for most of its growth, and its rate of growth for paid clicks on ads is slowing, notes Ben Worthen at the WSJ Business Technology blog. “Given Microsoft’s struggles turn a profit from search and Google’s announcing results that make it look like a real company and not the U.S. Mint, maybe it’s time we stopped thinking about search as Internet equivalent of an ATM,” he writes.

And while Google is likely to continue to pull advertising away from traditional media outlets, this trend won’t continue forever. Its ability to do so for as long as it has enabled investors to use a “buy high and sell higher” strategy, Ms. Caughey says, but when the growth story falters, this type of trade stops working.

Perhaps investors are just coming to grips with that, writes Sean Udall, on Minyanville.com, who says the “bar and expectations are just out of the world for the company. Google’s days of posting quarterly EPS crushes are gone.”

This is why analysts at BMO Capital Markets suggest that rallies aren’t to be trusted for long. “We continue to view GOOG as range-bound with higher likelihood for trading returns achievable when accumulating below $480 and reducing positions in the above $550 [range],” they write.

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2008年7月9日 星期三



Google Introduces a Cartoonlike Method for Talking in Chat Rooms
Published: July 9, 2008

Google, known for its plain-Jane approach to Web design, has come up with something much wackier.

On Tuesday the company introduced Lively, an online tool that allows people to embody a cartoonish online avatar and have text-based conversations with friends and other Internet users in virtual chat rooms. The rooms can be added to any blog or Web site.

Google unveiled the new product in a post on its official blog — its characteristically understated way of introducing new features to the world. It can be reached at www.lively.com but is officially part of Google Labs, an area of the company’s site where it showcases projects that remain in the beta, or experimental, phase.

Lively and similar products from other companies have the potential to change the way people interact over the Web. Online chat rooms are two-dimensional — they include text, and sometimes voice and video.

Lively tries to make that conversation three-dimensional, more interactive and more fun. As if they were playing a game, users choose from a selection of unrealistically handsome or Disneyesque avatars. They can also create their own rooms, which can be posted to a blog or social network profile as easily as a YouTube video.

Up to 20 people can occupy a room and chat with one another. (Text appears as cartoon-style bubbles atop the avatars.) Users can design their own virtual environments, hanging on the walls videos from YouTube and photos from Picasa, Google’s photo service, as if they were pieces of art.

Inside Google, the product was headed by Niniane Wang, an engineering manager. Students at the University of Arizona have been testing Lively for several months.

Ms. Wang wrote in the blog post that she developed Lively as a “20 percent project,” referring to Google’s philosophy that employees should spend one day a week working on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities.

Her spare time could cause some problems for companies with similar ideas. Second Life, the virtual world run by Linden Labs of San Francisco, is known for its much larger virtual world that hundreds of thousands of users can enter at the same time. But it is accessible through a separate program, not a Web browser. (Lively, which works only on Windows computers for now, requires the downloading of a bit of add-on software.)

Mark Kingdon, chief executive of Linden Labs, said Second Life’s value was not just in 3-D chat but also in more elaborate environments where people can work, play, teach, and buy and sell virtual products. “Users are highly motivated to create and transact in Second Life to the tune of almost a million dollars a day in user-to-user transactions,” Mr. Kingdon said.

Vivaty, a virtual-world start-up in Menlo Park, Calif., that is backed by the blue-chip venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, opened its virtual doors on Tuesday. Vivaty’s product is a similar 3-D chat room that runs on Facebook and through AOL Instant Messenger. In one version now available on Facebook, users can create a virtual dorm room and decorate it with furniture from Target.

Keith McCurdy, Vivaty’s chief executive and a former executive at the game giant Electronic Arts, said Google’s entry was a validation of the concept, and said Vivaty could get more traction by putting its virtual worlds on every Web site — even those controlled by Google’s rivals.

“We are not beholden to any one camp or approach,” Mr. McCurdy said. “We are trying to create an open system where lots of people have branded virtual scenes.”

Google’s success is not assured, of course. Other test products it has introduced have languished, like Product Search, originally known as Froogle.

2008年7月8日 星期二





當顧客主動搜尋其產品與服務並展現興趣時,中小企業以透過Google AdWords進行搜尋引擎行銷與關鍵字廣告,成為尋找新客戶最具經濟效益的方式。

雖然大多數的中小企業廣告主,已自行上網使用自助式,且操作簡易的Google AdWords系統,然而Google了解部分中小企業,仍希望藉由代理商來建立Google AdWords帳號,並協助他們管理線上廣告活動。

Googl目前正積極拓展代理商網絡,除已有亞普達集團、國眾電腦等兩家廣告代理商外,Google近期亦增加五色石數位為新的代理商,期望透過代理商,協助更多中小企業使用網路廣告與Goole AdWords。


台灣廣告主現在可藉由預付Google AdWords的費用,增加其預算規劃與分配之掌控度。

2008年7月7日 星期一

Last week, the results of a study conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Google and IBM Internet Security Service were made public. The study was started back in January 2007 and lasted until last month; its purpose was to analyze how users behave online and what kinds of web browsers are usually preferred. One of the most important aspects the study focused on was security.

Understanding the Web browser threat: Examination of vulnerable online Web browser populations and the insecurity iceberg made several very interesting browser-related observations. According to the information it made available, Mozilla Firefox users were found to be getting the highest degree of protection.

Mozilla Firefox Users Know Something Others Don’t
Enews 2.0 - London,England,UK
By Alexandre Carst Last week, the results of a study conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Google and IBM Internet Security Service were ...

Google, Zen Master of the Market

News Analysis

Google, Zen Master of the Market

Published: July 7, 2008

Bill Gates, who walked away from full-time work at Microsoft last month, was perhaps the foremost applied economist of the second half of the 20th century.

Skip to next paragraph
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, in Mountain View, Calif.

Mr. Gates and Microsoft fundamentally shaped how people think about the behavior of modern markets in which technology plays a central role. Under Mr. Gates, Microsoft also challenged the conventional wisdom about competition, business strategy and even antitrust law.

Now, in the early years of the 21st century, Google is the company prompting a rethinking of assumptions.

Microsoft was a master practitioner of “network effects,” the straightforward precept in economics that the value of a product or service often goes up as more people use it. There is nothing new about the concept. It was true of railways, telephones and fax machines, for example.

Microsoft, however, applied the power of network effects more lucratively than any company had done before it.

Microsoft attracted consumers and software developers to use its technology, the software that controls the basic operations of a personal computer. The more that people used Microsoft’s operating system (DOS and later Windows), the more that third-party developers built products to run on Windows, which attracted more users.

So Microsoft’s success snowballed, and the company owned the essential technology, making it harder for users and developers to switch to alternatives.

But the Internet has changed the rules of networked competition, partly because Internet software standards are more open than those in the PC industry. That helps explain why Microsoft has struggled to catch up with Google in the rich new market for Internet search advertising.

Google’s huge, widening lead in that business suggests that while some weapons of competition have changed, the market dynamics are similar, say economists and industry experts. At this stage, they note, Internet search appears to be a market that is winner take most, if not all.

Google, it seems, is the emerging dominant company in the Internet era, much as Microsoft was in the PC era. The study of networked businesses, market competition and antitrust law is being reconsidered in a new context, shaped by Google. Google’s explanation for its large share of the Internet search market — more than 60 percent — is simply that it is a finely honed learning machine. Its scientists constantly improve the relevance of search results for users and the efficiency of its advertising system for advertisers and publishers.

“The source of Google’s competitive advantage is learning by doing,” said Hal R. Varian, Google’s chief economist.

In the Internet marketplace, Mr. Varian notes, users can easily switch to another search engine by typing in another Web address, so there is no tight technology control, as there is with proprietary PC software. Similarly, Mr. Varian says, advertisers and publishers can switch fairly easily to rival ad networks operated by Yahoo, Microsoft and others.

But economists and analysts point out that Google does indeed have network advantages that present formidable obstacles to rivals. The “experience effects,” they say, of users and advertisers familiar with Google’s services make them less likely to switch. There is, for example, a sizable cottage industry of experts who tailor Web sites to get higher rankings on search engines, which drive user traffic and thus ad revenues. These experts understandably focus their efforts on the market leader, Google — another network effect, analysts say.

Google executives often point out that personal data in its services like Web e-mail is not held in proprietary document formats, as it is in PC software. Formats aside, however, a person with a year or so of e-mail housed in Gmail is highly unlikely to switch as a practical matter, analysts say.

Taken together, these networked advantages enjoyed by Google are significant, most analysts agree. “It certainly does have an impact on whether other companies can be competitive threats to Google,” said Michael Katz, an economist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “But it’s a very different way to lock people in than it was for Microsoft. It would be a lot easier for people to walk away from Google.”

Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sees the difference in terms of what he calls “direct network effects” and “indirect network effects.” The direct effects, he says, include software document formats and technology standards that are owned by one company and that are incompatible with a rival’s technology. The indirect effects, he adds, include large numbers of users, the ability to learn from those users, the power of a well-known brand and user inertia.

“For Google,” Mr. Cusumano said, “the indirect network effects are very powerful.”

Google’s market power, it seems, is the economic equivalent of what in foreign affairs is called “soft power,” a term coined by the political scientist Joseph S. Nye Jr. This is the power to co-opt rather than coerce.

The implications of Google’s market power for antitrust law are just beginning to be considered. The Justice Department is reviewing Google’s planned partnership with Yahoo. Under the agreement, Yahoo, the No. 2 company in search, would farm out some of its search advertising to Google, the leader. Google has said the deal is simply a voluntary outsourcing arrangement, while opponents say it will reduce competition in search advertising even further.

Google’s market share alone invites scrutiny worldwide. In the United States, antitrust law defines a dominant firm with potentially monopolistic power as a company with 70 percent market share or more. In America, Google has garnered more than 60 percent of searches conducted and about 70 percent of the search ad market. In Europe, the definition of a dominant firm is one that has as little as 35 percent of a market, legal experts say.

Still, dominance alone is not an antitrust problem. The issue is the powerful company’s behavior, says Andrew I. Gavil, a professor at the Howard University School of Law. “You have to be big and bad, not just big,” he said.

The telltale signs of a company’s bad behavior include raising prices, hindering innovation and excluding competitors. There is no evidence that Google is engaged in suspect behavior, but it could be hard to spot. Its ad auction system, for example, is essentially a private marketplace run by Google, without much disclosure to advertisers or to Web publishers.

Mr. Varian, Google’s chief economist, acknowledges that the company has been criticized for its lack of transparency. But he says that the Google approach is a byproduct of its virtue as a fast-moving learning machine. “The system is constantly evolving to optimize efficiency, improve ad quality and make the pricing smarter, so you don’t want set rules that say we do X and we don’t do Y,” Mr. Varian explained.

Whether that kind of “trust us” explanation will satisfy government regulators, if Google’s market power continues to grow, remains to be seen. But Google seems to have learned a lesson from Microsoft and its antitrust troubles. Mr. Varian said antitrust training is mandatory now for Google managers.

“Google looks at what happened to Microsoft, and we’re going to follow the rules,” he said. “If you’re really successful, you need to know about antitrust. That goes with the territory.”

2008年7月3日 星期四


Google Told to Turn Over User Data of YouTube

Published: July 4, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom its records of which users watched which videos on YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far.

The order raised concerns among YouTube users and privacy advocates that the video viewing habits of tens of millions of people could be exposed. But Google and Viacom said they were hoping to come up with a way to protect the anonymity of the site’s visitors.

Viacom also said that the information would be safeguarded by a protective order restricting access to the data to outside lawyers, who will use it solely to press Viacom’s $1 billion copyright suit against Google.

Still, the judge’s order, which was made public late Wednesday, renewed concerns among privacy advocates that Internet companies like Google are collecting unprecedented amounts of private information that could be misused or fall unexpectedly into the hands of third parties.

“These very large databases of transactional information become honey pots for law enforcement or for litigants,” said Chris Hoofnagle, a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

For every video on YouTube, the judge required Google to turn over to Viacom the login name of every user who had watched it, and the address of their computer, known as an I.P. or Internet protocol address.

Both companies have argued that I.P. addresses alone cannot be used to unmask the identities of individuals with certainty. But in many cases, technology experts and others have been able to link I.P. addresses to individuals using other records of their online activities.

The amount of data covered by the order is staggering, as it includes every video watched on YouTube since its founding in 2005. In April alone, 82 million people in the United States watched 4.1 billion clips there, according to comScore. Some experts say virtually every Internet user has visited YouTube.

Google and Viacom said they had had discussions about ways to further protect users’ anonymity, but as of Thursday evening the two companies had yet to agree on how to do that.

“We are investigating techniques, including anonymization, to enhance the security of information that will be produced,” said Michael D. Fricklas, Viacom’s general counsel.

Mr. Fricklas said Viacom would not have direct access to the data, and that its use would be strictly limited by the court order. Viacom would not, for example, chase down users who had illegally posted clips from “The Colbert Report.”

“The information that is produced by Google is going to be limited to outside advisers who can use it solely for the purpose of enforcing our rights against YouTube and Google,” Mr. Fricklas said.

In a letter sent Thursday, Google’s lawyers pressed their counterparts at Viacom to accept a more limited set of data. “We request that plaintiffs agree that YouTube may redact user names and I.P. addresses from the viewing data in the interests of protecting user privacy,” wrote David H. Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

In a response, a Viacom lawyer wrote that Viacom was “committed to working with Google” on the privacy issue.

Interestingly, Google has rejected demands by privacy groups for more stringent protections for I.P. address records, saying that in most cases the addresses cannot be used to identify users. Yet Google argued that YouTube viewing data should be kept from Viacom, in part, to protect the privacy of its users.

Judge Louis L. Stanton of the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over Viacom’s lawsuit against Google and YouTube, referenced Google’s past statements on I.P. addresses to conclude that its “privacy concerns are speculative.”

“It is an ‘I told you so’ moment,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington.

Other privacy advocates said they welcomed Viacom’s commitment to limit its use of the information, but they remained concerned about user rights.

“Users should have the right to challenge and contest the production of this deeply private information,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online civil liberties group.

That right is protected by the federal Video Privacy Protection Act, Mr. Opsahl added. Congress passed that law in 1988 to protect video rental records, after a newspaper disclosed the rental habits of Robert H. Bork, then a Supreme Court nominee.

Mr. Opsahl also said that even records that did not include a user’s login name and I.P. address might be able to be associated with specific people.

In 2006, after AOL released for research purposes the search records of thousands of anonymous users, reporters from The New York Times were able to track down one person by analyzing her search queries. Mr. Opsahl said anonymous viewing habits may similarly yield clues about the identity of viewers.

Viacom wants the viewing data in part to help it determine the extent to which YouTube’s success was built on the popularity of copyrighted clips that were illegally posted to the site. Outside experts say that without the data it would be virtually impossible to pin that down.

Judge Stanton agreed that the information could help Viacom make its case. “A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim, and defendants’ substantial noninfringing use defense,” he wrote.