The Google smartphone and its impact on the telecom eco-system has been covered in an earlier post.
So here it is… Ending a month long speculation of whether it be or not be, Google has unveiled its own Android smart-phone which means a direct assault on Apple on yet another front. The Google phone is named as Nexus One. This one is powered by the Android 2.1 and packs in a WiFi, Google Navigation, Google Goggles, a dedicated volume key and from the looks of it an updated OS features with new 3D elements to the app tray and a new grid icon at the bottom of the homescreen, which when pressed brings up a webOS card-style preview of all homescreen pages — which raises some interesting possibilities.
On the other hand, Android’s trickle (10 products released this year), looks set to become an avalanche in 2010 with 50 products lined up for launch. This includes 5 products from Acer, 5 from HTC, 10 from Motorola and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Android phone. However, Having its own device gives Google more control over how the hardware and software works together, and intensifies competition for Apple. The trend world over is getting to access the internet through smart-phones and Google needs to make sure it has an influence on that. The Google smart-phone makes sure they Google influences how the mobile Web will develop.
Google’s phone may be “unlocked,” meaning that it wouldn’t be tied to a specific phone network. Customers would then have to sign up for wireless service from a carrier.
Advances in online search have been picking up momentum in recent months, culminating in a burst of announcements this week that could change the face of search all together, according to industry watchers. They see the increasingly heated battle between Microsoft and Google as bringing an avalanche of innovations that should continue well into 2010 or 2011. Google has the keys to the castle and everyone else is storming the gates. Whenever you have heavy competition, you’ll see rapid changes.
Google started giving real time search results to its users this week. That means users who query a topic can get results only a few seconds old, and it also means that Twitter posts will also be pulled out in users’ result lists. Google this week also unveiled Google Goggles, a photo-based search. That announcement came the week after Google announced that it was personalizing search results.
Not to be left out, Microsoft Bing last week released the beta of the latest version of Bing Maps. The feature-rich update has some industry watchers saying that Bing may have bested Google Maps at its own game.
Search, which used to be a slow evolving domain once, has seen a wave of change in the recent times. While, search has never really been static. search is growing from something that served up the same search results to everyone to a service that’s more individualized and more about images, video, tweets and posts. Search is starting to look much more like the dynamic online lives of its users. It’s getting much more personal and granular. With these new capabilities, you can now pull up much more specific results that resolve down to a single – non-famous — person or opinion.
The competition between Microsoft and Google is driving a war of innovation and a constant ‘upping the bar’ in terms of features and function. And the face of search is changing as a result.
Cloud computing is a hot topic these days. Google is betting investments on the cloud and amongst the latest, has unvieled a cloud solution for monitoring deforestation. Apple is betting the future of music on shared music in the cloud domain. The cloud then is here to stay.
What then drives cloud computing? Here are five reasons to consider cloud computing.
1. Lower costs: Cloud computing transfers infrastructure costs to the cloud computing provider. With cloud computing, businesses of all sizes can instantly obtain the benefits of an enormous infrastructure without having to implement and administer it directly.
2. More environmentally friendly: Moving applications to the cloud can reduce energy costs for running and cooling hardware.
3. Significant amounts of storage and reliable data access: Often, your company gets a managed service and infrastructure, simple per-user pricing, no hardware and software to buy and maintain, no investment in storage, and the scalability to add and remove users in minutes.
4. Mobile support: It’s relatively easy to support users on-the-go through the cloud.
5. Universal document and application access: Employees may no longer tethered to a single computer or network. Documents can be made to follow everyone `through the cloud`. And a new product feature makes sharing easier than ever.
Google is seeking acquisitions to help boost its cloud computing strategy. The search giant’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, revealed that he is looking to snap up firms capable of helping Google exit the personal computer era and enter the age of cloud-based apps.
• The term cloud computing has become something of a buzzword. It refers to the practice of storing information – such as emails, photos and documents – on web apps that can be connected to at any time, rather than on localised operating systems like Microsoft Windows.
• Cloud-based services such as Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Office Live are already proving popular with consumers, while Facebook, Flickr and YouTube are increasingly being used to store photos and videos centrally.
• Meanwhile, the use of netbooks – scaled-down laptops specifically designed for easy internet access – is also on the rise. Apple is rumoured to be launching a touchscreen netbook to bridge the gap between its £250 iPod Touch and £650 MacBook.
• Such is the potential of cloud computing that Google is betting the bank on it, investing in the development of Chrome OS, an operating system for netbooks aimed at weaning consumers off Windows.
• Google is hoping that its new operating system, in conjunction with its Chrome web browser, will encourage consumers to use more web-based apps and therefore click on more of its search ads.
• With Amazon, Microsoft and IBM also charging headfirst into cloud computing significant opportunities exist for brands.
• US bank Wells Fargo already allows users to keep digital copies of documents such as passports and birth certificates in its cloud.
• It is likely to be a few years before cloud computing becomes a mass consumer proposition, but smart brands are already exploring it.
Apple Inc., the company that restructured the music industry around its iTunes service, is exploring an overhaul of the way it sells and stores music that is aimed at extending its influence to the Web.
The key vehicle for the move is Apple’s newly acquired music-streaming service La La Media Inc. for which Apple paid $85 million. As part of the move, Lala executives have been given key positions helping shape music strategy for the iTunes Store.
Where Apple’s iTunes requires users to download music onto a specific computer, Lala.com lets users buy and listen to music through a Web browser, meaning its customers can access purchases from anywhere, as long as they are connected to the Internet. Apple is considering adopting that same model for songs sold on iTunes, a change that would give consumers more ways to access and manage their iTunes purchases—and wouldn’t require them to download Apple’s software or their purchases. This new business model extends Apple’s grip on the music business, giving it the ability to sell music through search engines and other Web sites and broaden its reach beyond people who come to its virtual store. For consumers, such changes could make it far easier to manage and access large libraries of music, which need to be stored, maintained and backed up on computer hard drives and portable devices.
Record company executives said that they are optimistic about the prospect of consumers being able to buy music from more Web sites, but cautious about any development that would add to Apple’s already significant power. Apple, surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last year as the biggest music seller, and will generate about $2 billion in iTunes revenue this year, estimates Piper Jaffray & Co. That’s about 20% higher than last year, the brokerage firm estimates, but growth has slowed over the past several years as most people now own iPods or iPhones and it is adding fewer new users.ITunes is also facing pressure from competing services that allow users to listen to “streaming” music either cheaply or free on computers or portable, Internet-connected devices like the iPhone or iPod touch. Streaming has been at the heart of Lala’s strategy for the past two years, in the form of what the site calls “Web songs,” which cost 10 cents and are accessed via a Web browser.
The proposed changes would represent a fundamental redefinition of what it means to own a song, movie or other piece of media—shifting the emphasis from possession of a physical disc or digital file to the right to access content.Certain legal issues remain hazy: If music becomes a virtual product, it isn’t clear how Apple might be able to guarantee a buyer would retain access to a song in perpetuity if, for instance, a new owner gained control of a record label’s catalog and changed the terms of its deal with the retailer.
Lala has partnerships that allow it to sell songs from links embedded on sites as major as Google Inc. and as specialized as the indie-music site Pitchfork Media. Adopting that strategy would represent a major departure for Apple, which has always relied on what is known as a walled-garden approach in which its machines run on proprietary software. But that closed-system approach has limited its sales reach to people who deliberately log in to its online store.
Apple has revisited its iTunes strategy from time to time and had discussed the impact of streaming music services like Lala and Pandora Inc. in the past, but it believed that people want to own their music on hardware. This is the first time, Apple has set its sights on streaming music from the cloud.
The shift could reopen an uncomfortable topic between Apple and the music industry. Record-label executives were relieved in 2003 when Apple launched what was then called the iTunes Music Store, which appeared to be a virtual lifeline in a growing sea of illegally downloaded songs. But they have since also become frustrated that the service’s dominance of the market has made it into a gatekeeper with what they view as undue sway. In addition to selling music, Lala’s software also scans a user’s existing music library and matches its contents with songs on its own servers, then gives the user access to that music via a Web browser. That approach, known in technology circles as cloud computing, could also be part of a revamped, Web-based iTunes, according to the people with knowledge of the talks.It is also possible that Apple would use Lala’s streaming technology as the basis for a subscription service, for which users would pay a flat rate in exchange for unlimited access to music. Such offerings already exist but have never gained much traction with users, mainly because most don’t work with iPods or iPhones.
Heres a YouTube video of the Lala music streaming on the iPhone