A few eternities back, I had written a blog about vertical searches i.e Search which categorizes and indexes results not only as a part of information and discovery, but also as a part of a contextual experience – i.e Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action paradigm. You can read the blog here. Google takes the first steps to integrate vertical searches across platforms by Application Indexing and Ranking on its search engine.
Google is now planning to index the contents of the app, something it has not done before. This enables Smartphone users to open a contextually relevant app from mobile search results itself. This will change the search results a little bit and include links to apps along with the regular search snippet that Google already displays. However, these deep links to apps from within the search results would be displayed only on Google search results on Android.
This is a revolutionary enhancement made by Google in order to feed the demands of an increasing number of Android app users. Sites that already offer specific apps for their audiences can expect an increase in the number of users using their apps because Google would be sending direct visits to site-specific apps from the search engine result pages itself. This feature is currently available on Google search app version 2.8+ for Android 4.1+ and also in Android specific mobile browsers.
A search string will automatically enable Google to identify and list only those apps that are already installed in user Smartphone. Also, only sites that have app indexing and app deep links enabled would be shown in the search results. Also, with increasing usage of app indexing would eventually produce a ranking of apps as per its popularity index reliving the SEO paradigm all over again from the Applications perspective. All of this is rapidly adding onto the concept of Application based internet.
Here’s summing up 2013, Google style.
A recent report released by IAMAI and IMRB estimates 243 million internet users in India by June 2014 there by overtaking US(200 million users) and putting India at no.2 Internet population globally, behind China at 300 million. This study also states that the internet population in India would cross 200 million by October 2013 (exact number 205 million). The caveat served is that while all the 205 million may not be active internet users currently, but they would become “active” soon.
Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and only 3 years from 100 to 200 million. From here on, we can hope to develop a robust Internet ecosystem with a multitude of local and global players and a thriving Internet economy. Internet is now, clearly, mainstream in India. the number of Computer Literates in rural India by June 2013 has risen nearly two-fold to 125 Million. The number of internet users in urban India is 137 Million in October 2013 and is estimated to touch 141 Million by December 2013. In Rural India, there are 68 Million Internet users in October 2013 and will reach 72 Million by December 2013. Mobile Internet, too, has garnered a huge base among the Active Internet Users. This is a 18%+ jump over the June 2013 numbers, when there were 59.6 Million users in Rural India who have accessed internet at least once in their lives. Although this number is witnessing a steady growth, the penetration of 6.7% among the total rural population is still very low considering the huge rural population of 889 Million.
Mobility driving Internet
The number of mobile internet users has also witnessed a steady rise, with 110 million mobile internet users in October, and is estimated to reach 130 million by the end of December. In June, there were 91 Million users accessing the Internet on mobile devices, with 70.2 million users in urban India. This number rose to 85 million in October and is estimated grow by 47% and reach 103 Million by December 2013. Rural India is not that far behind in this regard with a base of 21 Million Mobile Internet Users in June 2013. It reached 25 Million in October 2013 and will touch 27 Million by December 2013. Mobile usage and hence, mobile internet usage has seen huge jump from the 2012 penetration levels. Compared to the 0.4% mobile internet users in 2012, the penetration has grown to 2.4%, indicating a substantial growth in the mobile internet user penetration levels.
While Indians primarily use the internet for communication, largely in the form of email, social media is also an important driver of internet use in India. This facet of the IMAI report can be corroborated with data from other sources such as Facebook, according to which India had 82 million monthly active users by June 30, 2013, the second largest geographical region for Facebook after the US and Canada. Facebook does not operate in China.
Internet penetration in India is driven largely by mobile phones, with some of the cheapest and most basic hand-sets today offering access to the internet. India has 110 million mobile internet users of which 25 million are in rural India. The growth of internet penetration in rural India is driven largely by the mobile phone; 70% of rural India’s active internet population access the web via mobile phones. This may have to do with the difficulty in accessing PCs.
While the IMAI report paints an optimistic picture of internet use in the country, another report by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, ranked India 145 of around 200 countries for the percentage of individuals using the internet.
What this means for service providers, handset OEMs and the VAS eco-system?
1. 42% of rural India’s internet users prefer using the internet in local languages. The high prevalence of content in English is a hurdle for much of rural India. Hence Vernacular medium is now key to greter penetration2. Given the poor connectivity and the lack of 3G accessibility in India – one would need to design experiences on mobile and web differently making sure that content is served first and pages are kept light. One must plan for delivery of internet on EDGE/2.75G networks
3. With projects such as UIDAI taking wings – a lot of economic activity i.e banking, payments, money transfer would also migrate online – thereby concerns on security is key
4. WiMAX could have been a great local area internet enabler – but then this technology is done and dusted. Something like the Google Balloon could be a good solution – but it may be a few years away yet.
Google shares jumped past $1000 mark, as its results convinced the markets that it had finally crossed the chasm between Desktop advertising to Mobile advertising. The rise of mobile devices had raised fundamental questions for the company: Would users conduct as many searches as on PCs? Would they click on as many ads? Would advertisers pay as much for a fingernail-sized spot on a phone as they do on a PC? The numbers Google disclosed undercut those fears. The number of “paid clicks”—the times a user clicks on an advertiser’s link during a search—surged 26%, the highest growth rate in a year.
As has been the case recently, the amount paid per click declined, this time by 8%. But the total volume of searches, driven by the rise of mobile devices, far outweighed the falling per-click rates. Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, estimates the total number of paid searches will reach nearly 125 billion in 2013, up 24% from the prior year and nearly triple the figure of five years ago. That is the rough equivalent of 36 clicks on Google ads this year from each of the world’s approximately 3.4 billion PCs, smartphones and tablets. Steadily increasing sales of mobile devices could help Google for a long time. “What all this leads up to is that investors just feel this is a longer-term story.
The spurt made Google the third most-valuable U.S. company by market capitalization, with a value of $338 billion, behind only Apple and Exxon Mobil Corp. What also interesting is that the Google results have also given a spurt to the prices of Twitter, Facebook, Pandora, Yahoo! and other online companies which are contingent on ads.
On its 15th birthday, Google unveiled the “Hummingbird” algorithm which is touted as the most radical change to the Google Search engine over the last 13 years. The last major upgrade to Google Search was the “Caffiene” and this update is likely to effect 90% of Google’s search results throwing the SEO/SEM industry topsy turvy. As users upgrade to more complex search strings, “Hummingbird” searches for a context in every search as against its 15 year old formula of matching keywords. Deep down in the core, the latest changes “hummingbird” is a subtle shift in terms of addressing the web in terms of semantics – the context.
For instance – a search query such as “Did FBI plot JFK’s death?” would throw up results based on matching the whole sentence (Priority 1), and then throw searches on “JFK” and on “FBI” – the later results only throwing results on Kennedy and FBI. The Hummingbird however understands the semantics behind the query – and is going to respond in terms of “Did FBI plot JFK’s death?” to “Other conspiracy theories around JFK’s death – to what has been FBI’s stand on JFK’s death through the years. It might throw up a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or an Edgar Hoover for instance. All a part of a semantic schema.
Or for instance “Pizza in Delhi” would throw up Pizza options but also could throw up options such as newly opened Mexican restaurant serving Burritos or likewise. An earlier execution of the same query would throw up – Pizza, Dominos, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut – all and only Pizzas. The “Hummingbird” would understand the context – a snack or a meal to mine results.
Thus, these changes could also drive up the price of Google ads tied to search requests if websites whose rankings are demoted under the new system feel they have to buy the marketing messages to attract traffic. However more importantly, this is a significant shift to a more context aware web – understanding the semantics – and a vertical integration of the search results. I call this Web 3.0 or Semantic Web. Whats your take?
An interesting infographic on Google on its 15th birthday. The $60 billion internet giant possibly will possibly end up having the same impact on history as Industrial revolution 500 years back.
Source: Statista/ Mashable
As Larry Page & Sergey Brin celebrate Google’s 15th birthday today, even they must be pinching themselves at the thought of just how far their company has come. Google permeates our everyday digital lives in a way many thought unimaginable, even when its humble web indexing algorithm became a verb used in common speech around a decade ago.
Before 10am this morning we’d checked Gmail, watched a YouTube clip, accessed a Google Drive document, checked the location of a gig venue on Google Maps, amended our Google Calendar and put some last-minute research into this very article using Google Search all on a tablet running the Google Android OS.
Make no mistake, Google as we know it today is arguably the world’s most important and influential company. How, after just 15 years, did it reach such stratospheric heights?
When Sergey met Larry It all started back in 1995 when prospective Stanford University PhD student Sergey Brin encountered computer science scholar Larry Page on a campus visit. According to Google’s own website, the pair fondly recall how they disagreed about practically everything they discussed that day.
The Early Days
In 1996 the pair began collaborating on Page’s ‘BackRub’ search engine, which by August that year had indexed 75 million URLs and eventually became too big for Stanford’s servers to handle. BackRub became Google (a play on the mathematical term Googol meaning 1 and 100 zeros), the pair garnered some investment, moved into a friend’s garage and, on September 4 1998, the company was officially incorporated in California.
The company’s name was inspired by its desire to organise the infinity of the web in a logical way and from an early stage it seemed Sergey and Larry’s secretive algorithms had a leg up on the competition. By the end of 1999 it had gained massive investment from Sequoia Capital, moved to Mountain View, got a dog and hired a chef. A year later it was pulling April fools pranks, launching in 10 new languages and becoming Yahoo’s default search provider.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the company began selling ads based around search keywords. It was the fruitfulness of this venture – where competitors floundered – that gave Google the financial clout to expand beyond search.
The hire of Eric Schmidt as chairman and then CEO of the company in 2001, allowed Page and Brin to focus their attentions on broadening the company’s product offerings. By this time, Google Search was indexing over 3 billion pages on the web and had established dominance. ‘Google it’ was slowly becoming the default term for search. So the company launched Google News, an aggregator that initially served up 4,000 news sources, and Google Labs, a place where web users could try out experimental tech developed in the company’s R&D department like voice controlled search,
keyboard shortcuts and browser toolbars.
Google’s stream of successes
In 2003, it acquired Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger. In 2004, it launched Gmail, powered by Google Search and bought Keyhole, which would eventually become Google Earth. A year later it launched Google Maps, soon adding satellite imagery and step-by-step directions, as well as Gtalk and the now dearly departed RSS reader Google Reader. Calendar, Picasa and Documents (following the acquisition of web-based word processing firm Writely) arrived in 2006, Street View arrived to complement Google Maps in 2007 and the Chrome web browser made its debut in 2008.
A hugely significant landmark was its heavily-hyped stock market floatation in 2004, by which time the company had commandeered 85 per cent of all web searches. With its IPO Google secured a value of $27 billion, making Larry and Sergey very rich men indeed. Believe it or not, some thought the company had been overvalued based on Yahoo and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to build rival search engines. With the cash flowing in from Wall Street in 2006, Google moved for its largest acquisition to date by snapping up the YouTube video-sharing site for $1.65 billion in stock and began selling ads on videos.
Since then, Google has continued to cherry pick companies and start-ups with fervent regularity. Over the last year it averaged one acquisition a week, with notable examples including Motorola’s mobile unit ($12.5 billion), smartwatch manufacturer WIMM and community sourced navigation application Waze for the small matter of $1.3 billion.
Android on Mobile
Getting all its ducks in a row on the web allowed Google to line-up an assault on the mobile world with the Android operating system, which has undoubtedly proved to be the company’s biggest success outside of search.
Set up in 2003 by Andy Rubin and co, Android was acquired by Google in 2005 and pitched as an open source operating system for a new breed of smartphone devices. It’d be another three years before the first devices would emerge, setting the industry on a path to the Android / iOS duopoly as Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry fell by the wayside. The arrival of Android and its subsequent success through eager manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG may have ruined Google’s cosy relationship with Apple – Steve Jobs threatened to go “thermonuclear” on Android and accusing Google of “wholesale ripping off” iOS – but by this point it didn’t matter.
Google had made itself indispensable to iPhone users, while regular dessert-themed software updates (you’ll see statues of each strewn across the front lawn at Mountain View) continued to push Android towards fulfilling its potential. Custom skins from its manufacturing partners also provided innovative new twists and nuances.
During the early days of the Android era, Google launched its first piece of branded hardware, the Nexus One made by HTC. The buggy device proved a bit of a disaster with Google selling through its own fledgling store, rather than through networks, meaning limited customer support for buyers. Google learned a valuable lesson and devices like the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 7 tablets have proved huge hits. Globally, it currently boasts around 80 per cent of the market and its increasing tablet share has allowed Google to push itself as an all-things-to-all-people entertainment content company too.
There are even dedicated games consoles like Ouya and the Nvidia Shield running Android, while smartwatches, televisions and cameras boasting Google’s software are becoming more and more prominent. Next up? Google Glass.
The foiled and the failures
However, it’s not like everything Google touches turns to gold. For every success the company has enjoyed down the years, there’s been a failure.
As much as Mountain View endeavours to make the Google+ social network the centre of its ecosystem, users just aren’t biting. Its previous social experiments, Buzz and Wave were not well received. It also bought mobile social network Dodgeball in 2005, before the founder Dennis Crowley got frustrated with Google and left to start Foursquare.
Jaiku, a microblogging platform Google purchased in 2007, went the way of the dodo, while Google Latitude, a Google Maps tool that broadcasts the users location, was met with trepidation. The iGoogle personalised homepage, which has been re-imagined on Android as Google Now, was another casualty on the web.
More recently, the cloud-based Chrome operating system, which features a suite of web apps and appears on Chromebook devices with little or no local storage,hasn’t been around quite long enough to be deemed a failure, but it can’t be deemed a success either.
Google TV, the company’s effort to bring its search expertise to the TV world,allowing live television and on-demand video platforms to be seamlessly integrated and joined by high-powered Android apps and games seemed like a good idea in principal. It somehow snatched failure from the jaws of success and now the tech world is simply waiting for Apple to jump on board.
The Ethics Debate
Google’s company motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’ is a commitment to doing right by the world with the idea that it’ll prove beneficial from a business standpoint in the long run. It’s a noble and rare ethos for a company with a market cap of around $300 billion, and although the world is probably a better place thanks to Google, the motto has left the company open to criticism when it is deemed to fall short. Rivals and competition regulators in the EU and US have accused Google of manipulating its search results to ensure its own products, such as Google Play apps, are ranked higher than more popular iPhone apps.
And Google has been in trouble in multiple countries, including the UK, for harvesting data from public Wi-Fi networks while driving around in its Street View cars. This was dismissed by Google as a simple mistake. Then there was a consolidation of 60 privacy policies from its various products (YouTube, Gmail, Chrome etc) into a single document in 2012 which didn’t give users the opportunity to opt out.
Google is also good at putting people in their place over their data. In August this year the company said its 425m Gmail users should have “no reasonable expectation” of privacy. Then in same month, the company claimed UK privacy laws have “no jurisdiction” over the company, amid allegations it by-passed do-not-track software within Apple’s Safari browser in order to provide personalised ads for users.
And then there’s the small matter of tax. The incredibly small matter of tax.
Which countries have the fastest internet connection? The rankings by Akamai Technologies cover January through March and are based on average peak connection speeds. The US still does not make it to the top 10 and India languishes at 109.
Hong Kong/ Speed: 63.6 Mbps
The hyper-dense Hong Kong maintained its dominance on the list of regions with super-fast internet access. Hong Kong’s average peak speed was an impressive 63.6 megabits per second (Mbps), which was more than three times the global average of 18.4 Mbps. Hong Kong’s average was 9% faster than the previous quarter and 29% speedier than a year ago.
Japan/ Speed: 50 Mbps
The home of Nintendo and Sony had the second fastest internet speed, thanks to the high-speed fibre optics that run through many parts of the island nation. Japan’s average peak broadband speed reached an impressive 50 Mbps, which was more than 170% faster than the global average.
Romania/ Speed: 47.9 Mbps
When last checked in on Romania, it was ranked No. 5 and was the only country to see its average fall from the previous quarter. The country is now back on track, and has elevated itself with an average peak speed of 47.9 Mbps. That’s 160% faster than the global average. Romania’s average was 9% higher than the previous quarter.
South Korea/ Speed: 44.8 Mbps
Serious PC gamers who want to dominate in StarCraftneed fast, low latency internet connections. They’ll find that in South Korea, home to consumerelectronics giants Samsung and LG. The country’s average peak hit 44.8 Mbps, about 143% faster than the global average. It was the only region to lose speed compared with a year ago, falling 6%.
Latvia/ Speed: 44.2 Mbps
Smaller countries are easier to blanket with high-speed internet, which is one of the reasons why Latvia consistently ranks high on this list. The average peak broadband speed was 44.2 Mbps, about 140% faster than the global average.
Singapore/ Speed: 41.1 Mbps
When it comes to places with speedy internet access, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin picked a good country to call his new home. Singapore had an average peak speed of 41.1 Mbps, more than twice the global average. The top speeds were 43% speedier than a year ago.
Switzerland/ Speed: 40.3 Mbps
Switzerland is a major hub for the finance industry, which demands hyper-fast digital connections. Appropriately, the country had an average peak internet speed of 40.3 Mbps. The country’s top speeds were 12% faster than the previous quarter and 41% speedier than a year ago.
Bulgaria/ Speed: 38.2 Mbps
Bulgaria, known for its low taxes and cheap labour, maintained the ranking it held in our previous report with an average peak internet speed of 38.2 Mbps. That was a 14% increase over the previous quarter.
Netherlands/ Speed: 38.2 Mbps
The Netherlands didn’t make the top 10 in our earlier report, but managed this time to land in 9th place with an average peak broadband speed of 38.2 Mbps. It increased its top speeds by 15% than previous quarter.
Belgium/ Speed: 38 Mbps
In our earlier report, Belgium ranked 6th in average peak speed. Although the country’s fastest connections increased 14% over the previous quarter, it wasn’t enough for it to keep pace with others.
US/ Speed: 36.6 Mbps
Six months ago, the US was ranked No. 14. Since then, it’s moved up to 11th place — still short of the coveted top 10. Average peak speed in the US increased 11% over the previous quarter to 36.6 Mbps.
London/ Speed: 36.3 Mbps
London’s Startup Hub Tech City still lags behind the success of Silicon Valley. But one area where the UK has nearly caught up with the US is internet speed. It is an impressive 53% speedier than a year ago.
India/ Speed: 10.6 Mbps
India is ranked 109, with a top peak speed average of 10.6 Mbps. It is 27% faster than the last quarter and 34% faster than last year. It is the second lowest among Asian countries, followed only by China’s average peak connection speed of 8.3 Mbps.
India’s average connection speed is 1.3 Mbps, the lowest among Asian countries. It is ranked 114 on the list. The top spot goes to South Korea with 14.2 Mbps. Only 2.4% of India’s internet connections have 4 Mbps speed or more, and only 0.3% have 10 Mbps or more