2009年7月31日 星期五

Google Readies Its Book Business

Google Readies Its Book Business

As it prepares to become a major digital book seller, Google is striking partnerships with brick-and-mortar stores and trying to dispel concerns.

As it has done with its antitrust road show, Google is reaching out to explain how its plan to make books searchable and sellable online will benefit all concerned. On Thursday evening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Book Search, is scheduled to discuss his company's book scanning efforts and its ambition to become a seller of digital books.

was introduced in 2004 under the name Google Print. The project involves scanning books, converting the scans to text using optical character recognition technology, and making the scanned books searchable. Publishers and their lawyers sued Google the following year for digitizing books without the permission of copyright holders.

To date, Google has scanned over 10 million books, according to Clancy, including 1.5 million public domain books and 1.5 million books belonging to Google's Book Search partners -- publishers and authors who have agreed to allow Google to index their books in exchange for increased visibility, ad revenue, and sales opportunities.

Last October, Google reached a settlement with the authors and publishers who brought the lawsuit. The settlement awaits approval from the judge overseeing the case. The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting an antitrust inquiry into the deal.

A fairness hearing to consider approval of the settlement is scheduled for October 7. And the deadline for objections to the settlement is September 4.

The main objections have had to do with privacy -- Google's perennial nemesis -- and ensuring access to scanned material.

Resistance to Google's plan is also being driven by the company's competitors and by the not uncommon sentiment among Google's critics that the company has become an anticompetitive monopoly. For instance, Microsoft, which gave up on its own book scanning project last year, has committed $50,000 to fund several New York Law School projects seeking to delay or modify the settlement.

To counter such salvos, Google has published YouTube video testimonials from Howard University law professors Rhea Ballard-Thrower and Lateff Mtima, as well as Charles Brown from the National Federation of the Blind, to talk about how Google Book Search will expand access to books and knowledge.

Google's relationship with publishers and authors became more complicated in May when the company confirmed that it would begin selling e-books for Google Book Search partners online by the end of the year, a move seen as a challenge to Amazon and its Kindle. If Apple does release a reading tablet, as anticipated, later this year or early next and if that tablet is tied to Apple's iTunes Store for content, then Apple too is likely to see Google Editions -- that's what the book sales program is called -- as a competitor in the digital publishing market.

"We want to build and support a digital book ecosystem to allow our partner publishers to make their books available for purchase from any Web-enabled device," a Google spokesperson said in May.

Clancy stresses that while Google and the authors and publishers who sued may disagree over what constitutes copyright infringement, both sides are willing to put aside their difference to make the settlement work. The company's goal isn't to force anyone to participate, he insists.

"Under the settlement, rights holders have choice, can opt out, can stay in or remove books from index," he said. "It's always been our policy that if people ask us not to scan or index their book, we'll respect that."

Under the settlement, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) will spend $34 million to fund a Book Rights Registry, which will maintain a database of copyright holder information and will oversee the disbursement of at least $45 million in payments to authors for books scanned without permission. It will also handle payments to Google book search partners for Google Editions sold to consumers.

With the settlement costs, Google will have spent over $100 million on its book scanning effort. "This is a very expensive project," said Clancy.

According to Clancy, Google will pay 63% of digital book revenue and will keep 37% for itself. As a point of comparison, Amazon pays Kindle authors a 35% royalty. Google plans to develop an algorithmic pricing model to find the ideal price for Google Editions. Initially, said Clancy, over 50% of titles will be $5.99 or less and over 80% will be $14.99 or less.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) allows authors and publishers to set their own price for Kindle titles, with the caveat that it must be consistent with the price provided to other retailers or wholesalers.

Clancy also said that, in addition to selling digital books online, Google plans to sell Google Editions through brick-and-mortar book stores. He said that Google's retail partners should be able to get a similar cut of the sale price as they do today for printed books. "You should be able to buy one of these digital books anywhere," he said. "We really think it's important that the future of the digital book is an open, competitive space."

The issue of orphaned books -- books with no identifiable rights holder -- won't be a significant one, Clancy insists, given that 97% of book sales are in-print books. And while some parties still want Google to provide a license to use the orphaned books in its index, he says that's beyond the scope of the settlement. "We don't believe the class action construct allows the registry to license works that have not been claimed," he said.

As for the privacy concerns raised by critics, Clancy maintains that Google is committed to user privacy. Yet he was unable to offer a clear commitment because the settlement has not been approved and Google is still working out the details. In principle, he said that Google doesn't want to track people. But any online interaction will leave a record of the user's IP address on Google's servers and that information can sometimes be used to identify a user.

Google, said Clancy, still trying to figure out an IP address retention policy for Google Books. The company, he said, has security requirements under the settlement so IP address information will need to be kept for some period of time to track abuse. "That's something we're evaluating now," he said.

bMighty has published a report on the secrets of e-mail management Download the report here (registration required).

2009年7月28日 星期二

Google Is Blocked


Even Google Is Blocked With Apps for iPhone

Published: July 28, 2009

Google might power the world’s most popular search engine, but its clout goes only so far. When it comes to getting one of its applications onto the iPhone, it seems Google has to wait in line for Apple’s approval like everyone else — and face the risk of rejection.

Skip to next paragraph

Sean Kovacs, whose GV Mobile was rejected by Apple, said he was creating versions for iPhone competitors.


Times Topics: Apple Inc. | Google Inc.

In recent weeks, Apple turned down two applications that Google had submitted for review in hopes that they would be added to the company’s App Store, highlighting the increasingly complex relationship between the two companies.

Google said in a blog post last week that Apple had rejected an application called Google Latitude that would have allowed users to broadcast their location and see where their friends were.

“We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users,” the company said. It added that Apple had asked it to build a mobile-friendly Web version of the service instead, to “avoid confusion” with the standard map application on the iPhone, which also uses Google map data.

On Tuesday, a Google spokeswoman, Sara Jew-Lim, said that several weeks ago Apple rejected an application that would bring Google Voice service to the iPhone. Ms. Lim declined to elaborate.

Google Voice provides users free or low-cost calling, free text messaging, call routing and a universal voice mailbox. There already are applications for Google Voice on BlackBerrys and on handsets that use Android, Google’s mobile operating system.

Jennifer Bowcock, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment on the matter. The news of Apple’s rejection of Google Voice was first reported by the blog TechCrunch.

Apple also rescinded its earlier approval of several applications created by third-party developers that worked with Google Voice, citing concerns that they duplicated features that come with the iPhone.

Analysts and industry experts said that the Google Voice ban may have been prompted by growing concern from AT&T, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in the United States, about the potential damage the service might do to its revenue.

“What it comes down to is AT&T’s turf,” said Gene Munster, a senior research analyst at the investment firm Piper Jaffray. “It shows that contractually, Apple has agreed to keep apps that would hurt AT&T’s business out of the App Store, regardless of who developed them.”

Michael Coe, a spokesman for AT&T, declined to comment.

Calls made by Google Voice users are carried over the regular cellphone network to a special number, and are then routed over the Internet to their destination. This means they would use up minutes on AT&T customers’ plans, unlike calls made with the iPhone application for Skype, the Internet calling service. But the Skype application works only over a Wi-Fi connection in the United States, and does not allow calls over AT&T’s data network.

AT&T may see Google Voice as a bigger threat than Skype, said Jeff Pulver, chairman of the 140 Character Conference, who has long been involved in the Internet calling business.

“I don’t think people will go to their homes and have Skype as the carrier of their choice,” Mr. Pulver said. “Google, tactical and strategic as they are, may have put the fear of God into AT&T.”

The rejections of apps by Apple could dim the halo that has encircled the iPhone since it first became a lucrative platform for outside developers. The lengthy and opaque approval process required to get anything into the App Store has long been a source of frustration for iPhone developers and users alike.

Sean Kovacs, a 25-year-old programmer in Tampa, Fla., created GV Mobile, one of the Google Voice applications that was removed from the App Store. He said he was creating versions for the Palm Pre and other iPhone competitors instead. “My days of developing for the iPhone are probably done,” he said.

For now, Mr. Kovacs has elected to make his iPhone application available through Cydia, a popular repository for thousands of unauthorized iPhone applications and modifications. “I’d rather just make it available for free, instead of just not having it available to anyone,” he said.

Of course, Google is not just another iPhone app developer. Eric E. Schmidt, its chief executive, sits on Apple’s board. But Google’s Android operating system, which has not yet been widely adopted by cellphone makers, could one day threaten the iPhone.

Apple and Google “are competitors, but they cooperate on certain projects,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Brothers. The question, Mr. Wu said, is how long that good will can hold as the companies ramp up competition in many areas, including smartphones, Web browsers, photo editing tools and online media outlets.

Saul Hansell contributed reporting.

2009年7月8日 星期三

Google Plans a PC Operating System

Google Plans a PC Operating System
Google announced late Tuesday that it is developing an operating system for personal computers, a direct challenge to Microsoft.

Introducing the Google Chrome OS

7/07/2009 09:37:00 PM
It's been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we're announcing a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

We have a lot of work to do, and we're definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision. We're excited for what's to come and we hope you are too. Stay tuned for more updates in the fall and have a great summer.

2009年7月1日 星期三

Google Wants Newspapers To Post Their Videos To YouTube/ Steve Chen Switches to Google

Updated: Google Wants Newspapers To Post Their Videos To YouTube
Reuters - USA
By Joseph Tartakoff - paidContent Updated below: Never mind that many newspapers may be upset about how their content is treated on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) News ...

June 30, 2009, 6:11 pm
YouTube Co-Founder Switches to Google

YouTube confirmed on Tuesday that Steve Chen, a co-founder and most recently YouTube’s chief technology officer, was no longer working at the company. Mr. Chen left some time ago to work on unspecified engineering projects at its parent, Google.

In an e-mail, YouTube spokesman Ricard Reyes said: “Steve shifted his focus to help with some Google engineering projects. He’s still involved with YouTube and invested in its success.”

Mr. Chen co-founded YouTube in 2005 with Chad Hurley, who remains chief executive, and Jawed Karim who left the company early on to attend graduate school. Little more than a year later, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion, turning the three founders into millionaires many times over. Mr Hurley’s holdings were worth more than $345 million in February of 2007, Mr. Chen’s more than $326 million, and Mr. Karim’s more than $64 million.

Mr. Chen’s move, which was first reported by the industry blog AllThingsD, was never officially announced. In fact, the company’s Web site still lists him as chief technology officer.