Link

…Google couldn’t easily implement its more creative ideas—stuff like getting an instant signal when you walk in a restaurant that starts a stream menus and reviews—because of unaccommodating hardware from different manufacturers. “To do those things you have to innovate in the hardware,”

Not that Apple need the validation of their own strategy, but they would probably be going around high fiving all day having read comments from Lior Ron, once a product head at Google Local and now a Motorola corporate VP of product management, describing one of the strategies behind the Moto X phone.

Link

he had a chemistry exam the next day which he was going to fail because he spent all night trying to buy a phone that was not for sale.

And I thought the Apple Users were the rabid fanboys?

Read the full piece here

Chirping like Sparrows

Let’s say you go out and buy a wrench for $10. You use it a lot and it works well. I think you’d call that a good investment.

If the company that makes the wrench gets bought out by a large construction firm which likes those wrenches you wouldn’t even care, because the wrench keeps working.

With Sparrow you bought your “wrench” for $2.99 for your iPhone or $10.49 for your Mac. And it works for you. And it will continue to work for you – even if Google, the large construction company, ends all development now they’ve bought the makers of your wrench.

It’ll continue to work on your Mac or iPhone as long as you like or it still works with the Operating System. You can keep having your beautiful multi-threaded conversations, with an uncluttered design, tailored inboxes, quick reply and (if you like that sort of thing) Facebook connection.

Or you could expect a refund because getting it on special wasn’t enough

or because spending less than the price of a cup of coffee on it was you funding a different version of the app

Which is a bit like buying said cup of coffee only because you think the producer might someday use your “investment” to protect the rainforest which might possibly surround their coffee plantation.

Instead, as Pocket developer Steve Streza writes

Yes folks, that wrench still works for the same reasons you laid down that huge investment in the first place. The best value you can get now is to continue to use it, at least until something better comes along.

Maybe you’ll even see the opportunity to build a better sparrow yourself?

Ducking out of Google Search

Aside

When Google were just a search company, they made the web one of the most usable things ever. Life was great and everything was a Google away.

Today, as they face the challenges of Facebook, Apple and potentially Microsoft in the turf they made their own, they’ve changed their search algorithms so much that finding a good result can be a challenge at the best of times on a desktop browser. Though surprisingly in the Safari browser on iOStheir results are more like the “good old days”.

So like many other companies who either fail to disrupt themselves or whose attempts at disruption are less successful than expected, they’ll do whatever it takes to maintain their lead. From next week they will make your Google Web history available to it’s other products. A bit like when Microsoft integrated Office into Windows, perhaps?

Because they still have a lot of soul, they at least make it very easy to prevent them from gathering said web history.

Well before the recent discovery Google were compromising, without permission, the privacy setting I had chosen in my browser, I’d already mostly stopped using them for search in the last 6 months. There will still be the odd time what is still the best search engine on the planet has to be used. But, for now, I prefer the growing ability of DuckDuckGo and other services to answer my queries.

DuckDuckGo sounds like they don’t want to be evil after all.

What impact will Wordads have on Google and Adsense?

Today WordPress announced Wordads, because in their own words

You pour a lot of time and effort into your blog and you deserve better than AdSense

My initial reaction to this was great, I might finally get to control the ads which appear at the bottom of these posts. But my curious nature took hold and made me wonder if the few products Google rely on for most of their revenue are slowly becoming commoditised.

First we had the worlds biggest Social Network creating it’s own ad network. I know Facebook’s social ads revenue is still reasonably small, but the revenue from it appears to be doubling year on year. Considering the size of Facebook and the engaged temperament of its users, will it become an ever more attractive place to advertise online – especially with its ability to make those ads highly targeted to viewers?

Then the worlds most used smartphone platform introduced an intelligent personal assistant including voice search. Yes Siri still uses Google Search, but in many cases it does so only as a last resort or if you specifically ask for a web search.

It seems that many are translating a greater proportion of their web use to smartphones and the iPad. (And it wouldn’t be a wild assumption that Siri will appear on the next or even current iPads.) At what point of Siri’s maturity could it start make a serious dent into Google’s search dominance? And what then would be the roll on effect to Google’s advertising revenues from search?

And now we have the world’s biggest blogging platform – a social network in itself – introducing an advertising platform. Is it logical to assume it is going to start to eat into the 28% of revenue currently sourced by Google through Adsense?

While all of the above is personal speculation, I bet the real speculators are focusing on the 32% revenue growth Google delivered Quarter on Quarter this year. And will continue to reward the share price with their heads in the sand.

Perhaps they are right, it isn’t logical to assume that Google are sitting pretty on the past surely. And with the recent culling of superfluous projects there, it’s logical they are focusing their resources on improving their search and advertising functionality and especially as that search integrates with Android.

But can they innovate fast enough and will their next big thing be good enough to head off the Online Search and Advertising disruptors before they are eating more of their pie than the investor market would like?

Wordads is hitherto just an announcement from Automattic. But with almost 70 million blogs and 2.5 billion page views per month, even if only a small proportion use Wordads, it’s bound to be more than a tiny thorn in the established players behind.

Link

Geoff Livingston’s Blog claims Google Plus had lots of hype, but that hype has recently lost its mojo.

Sure, getting to fifty million users within 3 months is a pretty impressive stat.

via Leon Håland

But isn’t it fairly easy to get to any arbitary number of users if you already have a set of well used products with a large user base like GMail and Reader. Especially when Google are directly integrating Plus into them via the new toolbar.

A better measure might be how many incremental customers Google have gained thanks to Plus, and then how many of them are using the service daily.

The biggest challenge to Google plus’ growth is the number of social networks which their target audience are already engaged with. While Linked In and others appear to have attempted to directly mimic Facebook, those services at least have enough different use cases from Facebook for people to use both. Perhaps Google need to focus more on their key differentiators, such as “hangouts” in a bid to attract new users away from Facebook.

Maybe then that will attract users from the outside in and Google Plus will get its mojo back?

On the Patents of Motogoo

…if Motorola’s patent portfolio were really that dangerous, Apple would have settled quickly, not dragged out patent countersuits of its own. Apple settled with Nokia pretty quickly, and Nokia, like Motorola, has patents primarily in network technology, not the kind of usability and OS technologies Apple has the most strength in…

Daniel Eran Dilger rarely holds back at Roughly Drafted. And even if he is being objective (read the even more dismissive commentary in the full article), those who he describes as “deciding Google’s strategy”will go “ha, fanboy” and ignore what he writes.

So lets see what everyone else is saying. Nilay Patel at This is my next makes an interesting point that perhaps the Motorola patents might be more valuable in the Google v Oracle Battelfront of The Great Patent War of 2011:

…Oracle case is probably the most significant to the Android ecosystem right now, and it’s also the one in which Google is doing the most poorly…Motorola owns plenty of patents on networking and video encoding as well. That’s the sort of easy cross-license that makes sense, but it all depends on whether Oracle decides it stands more to gain from collecting license fees from Android or more to lose from a Motorola patent lawsuit.

I haven’t been able to find any evidence of any knowledgeable patent lawyers clarifying the quality of Motorola’s patents yet. I imagine that commentary will come later. If you were a Google shareholder, though, you’d have to be happy that the experts had done their collective jobs and found a few tasty ones in the Motorola portfolio. Which they’d be happy to welcome into the “defence of Android” in this Great Patent War of 2011.

If you were a shareholder, though, you might get a bit nervous when you read this (albeit unvalidated) comment from a former member of staff who claims he worked with their patents:

…having worked with Motorola patents for many years as a Member of the Technical Staff, I can assure you that of the 17,000 Google has gotten their hands on, no more than 5 or 10 are worth anything….

I’m not sure if Standard and Poor’s are allowed to be trusted again, but they sure don’t rate the buy as helping increase the value of the stock:

despite MMI’s extensive and valuable patent portfolio, we are not sure it will protect Android from IP issues. We also believe the purchase of MMI would negatively impact GOOG’s growth, margins and balance sheet

Whatever happens, the next 18-24 months are going to interesting. How long the Great Patent War drags on might just depend on how good a buy this Motorola deal is for Google and their business.

Are Google confusing the Browser with Browsing?

Considering Chrome, Chrome OS and the recent H.264 decision further, it appears to me that Google are often allowing “what you know” technology to often dictate their strategy.

Google’s main competition in the supposed “smartphone” wars have understood accessing the web is more Continue reading

Open: Google’s lipstick on a pig

Today Google informed us of their decision to drop support for H.264 Video Encoding in future builds of Chrome. Because I’ve been been involved in Product Development in one form or another for the best part of 15 years, I’m well aware it is often harder to decide what to leave out of the feature set than what to include. Competing requirements from multiple stakeholders are Continue reading