Tag: alphabet

Danish watchdog growls at Alphabet

A Danish consumer watchdog has reported Alphabet to the Danish Data Protection Agency for potentially breaking privacy laws.

What has got the Danes’ goat is that Alphabet was not capping the amount of time personal data is stored on Google’s servers.

Google and Facebook face increased scrutiny over how and where they store location and search history data from users of smartphones and mail accounts.

“The consumer council Taenk would like the Data Protection Agency to assess whether Google’s indefinite data collection complies with consumer’s basic right to privacy,” the watchdog snarled.

Google apparently has nearly a decade of data on users with a Google account,  the report claims.

Alphabet sues Uber over self-driving car tech

Old carsAlphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber’s autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto over claims that it stole confidential and proprietary sensor technology.

Waymo claims Uber and Otto nicked confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.

Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California said that Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology.

Uber said that it is considering the allegations.

Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems.

Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.

Otto launched in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project.

Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” by reformatting  his laptop.

“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.

 

Trump and Silicon Valley try to bury the hatchet

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump met with Silicon Valley’s top executives attempted to bury the hatchet and to smoke a peace pipe.

The meeting, in Trump Towers, focused chiefly on economic problems, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely avoiding the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy.

For some reason, three of Trump’s kids sat in on the meeting. We guess it is because they know a little more than their dad about tech. Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, sat at the head of a large rectangular table as the meeting began in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

Of course there is a small problem of conflict of interest because Trump’s kids are going to be running his business while he is being president.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also there as was  Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’sSheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Alphabet Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Missing was Twitter, which Trump claimed was too small to be at the table and it had nothing to do with the personal spat that Trump was having with Twitter.

Cook and Musk joined Trump for separate meetings after the other technology executives leave, according to a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.

Bezos said in a statement the meeting was “very productive” and that he “shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech – agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing -everywhere.”

Silicon Valley got on well with  President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Trump bashed the industry during the election campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.

Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC.

 

Alphabet sorts out its advertising soup

Alphabet Soup-001Alphabet, the outfit formally known as Google, which has somehow becomes Google’s parent has said that its efforts to push its vast advertising business toward mobile is paying off.

The company posted second quarter earnings which beat Wall Street’s expectations and put to rest lingering concerns about how the rise of mobile might impact Google which has relied on desktop search traffic to power its profits.

Alphabet said revenue grew by 21.3 percent to $21.5 billion, while earnings jumped to $4.88 billion from $3.93 billion for the comparable period a year ago.

The company’s shares rose 6.5 percent to $816 in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said during a call with investors that videos were also doing well. Over the past year, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all doubled down on video, a format where advertisers are willing to pay a premium for a few seconds of users’ undivided attention.

Google has used artificial intelligence to improve video recommendations to users, driving more engagement on the site, Pichai said.

“Video is a huge component of digital content, and YouTube continues to shine,” he said. “It’s a thriving home for creators.”

Google and other tech players are hoping to siphon advertising dollars from traditional television, where advertisers will spend a projected $70.6 billion in the U.S. this year, according to market research firm eMarketer. YouTube is in a prime position to strike, with an audience of more than 1 billion users, including more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any U.S. cable network.

Revenue at Alphabet’s Other Bets business rose 150 percent to $185 million, while operating losses widened to $859 million.

The division includes broadband business Google Fiber, home automation products Nest, self-driving cars and X – the research facility that works on “moon shot” ventures.

Google’s ad revenue rose 19.5 percent to $19.14 billion, while it notched a 29 percent rise in paid clicks, where advertisers pay the company only if a user clicks on the ad.

Google’s other revenue surged 33 percent, driven by gains in the cloud computing business, in which Google competes with Microsoft and Amazon to rent computer servers to other companies.

 

Oracle and Google refuse to settle

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s moves to ask silly money from Google for the Java APIs in Andriod will see another long court case as the database maker has refused to cut a deal.

The pair have said that they have failed to settle a long running copyright lawsuit over the Android operating system ahead of a retrial scheduled for May.

The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programming language, which Google used to design Android. Oracle is seeking billions in royalties for Google’s use of some of the Java language, while Google said that it should be allowed to use Java without paying a fee.

At a trial in San Francisco federal court in 2012, the jury was deadlocked on Google’s fair use defence. Both companies participated in a court-ordered settlement conference on Friday before a US magistrate in San Jose, California, in an attempt to stave off retrial next month.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz both attended, but talks were unsuccessful, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal wrote in a brief statement.

“After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried. This case apparently needs to be tried twice.”

 

Project Loon could be hot air balloon

AlphabetGoogle, or rather holding company Alphabet, has said it will invest money to give people in poorer countries internet access.

The idea is to put solar powered helium balloons into the stratosphere to provide a wireless 900MHz spectrum and that will let people with LTE smartphones access the service. It’s called Project Loon.

But Joe Hoffman, a VP of strategic technology at ABI Research, said that the project faces several challenges.

Hoffman said: “If Project Loon is economically successful, it may have a five to ten year project lifetime as the worldwide population continues to urbanise and 4G networks migrate outwords.”

He said other challenges include price points will be difficult. “How can the porject aim to deliver mobile broadband service at ordinary mobile cellular prices or lower?”

Other difficults mean that the systems are supposed to generate 100 watts from solar power but that will create challenging power limits on both the transmitter and the on board electronics.

Other challenges include developing algorithms for mapping balloon positions, having a strategy if the weather is bad and relying on non PC resource helium.

Despite all of this, Hoffman said Alphabet is being creative. “Reaching the unserved will be technically and economically challenging, but if there is one company that can break through these barriers and be successful, it is Alphabet.”

Alphabet makes a killing

google-logo-art-image-hdThe umbrella company for Google has announced that the search engine is making piles of cash and it is going to start buying back its own shares.

Alphabet said that it had made solid progress in mobile and video advertising and revenue and profit well above analysts’ average forecasts.

The results come at a pivotal time for the company as it navigates the transition from desktop to mobile, where ads are generally less profitable, while facing growing competition from rivals like Facebook.

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google said that mobile search was the reason for the strong results. “Search traffic on mobile phones have now surpassed desktop traffic worldwide,” he said.

Shares of Alphabet rose almost nine percent in after-hours trading to $741, easily a record. At that level, the company’s market value would be around $500 billion, making it the second-most valuable company after Apple.

Investors have been pressing the company to return more of its $72 billion cash pile, but the announcement that Alphabet would buy back up to $5.09 billion of its Class C shares came as a surprise.

Third quarter revenue rose 13 percent to $18.68 billion, above the $18.53 billion that Wall Street expected.

The company earned $7.35 per share, up 17.6 percent from the year before. That was ahead of analysts’ average estimate of $7.21 per share.

Expenses rose 9.1 percent to $13.97 billion but were 74.7 percent of total revenue, compared to 77.4 percent in the same quarter last year. This basically means the company has been keeping its spending down.

Alphabet said that the number of paid clicks, in which advertisers pay only if a user clicks on the ad, rose 23 percent, compared to an 18 percent increase in  the previous quarter.

The Cost-per-click, or the average price of online ads, fell 11 percent in the quarter.

Google allows itself to be evil

 

blofeldThe search engine outfit Google is allowing its umbrella company Alphabet to be evil – after all alphabets have the potential to be evil.

Alphabet posted a new code of conduct for its employees after Google completed its transformation into a holding company.

Google’s code of conduct was famous for its first line “Don’t be evil” and the act did spawn a lot of comment when the search engine started to behave a “bit evil”. Some of this evil involved cheating the tax system so that it did not have to help pay for health, welfare and education.

Alphabet’s code doesn’t include that phrase. Instead, it says employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries “should do the right thing – follow the law, act honourably, and treat each other with respect”.

This change is telling.  Sometimes Google can argue that doing the right thing can mean doing the evil thing.  For example, and we don’t mean to harp on about this, doing the right thing for profits and share prices means paying as little tax as possible and exploiting any legal loopholes you can find.

The vast majority of Alphabet employees will still be Google employees, part of the core search-and-advertising unit that is the new holding company’s biggest division. Those workers are still covered by Google’s code of conduct and the “Don’t be evil” motto.

Google’s code of conduct is much longer than Alphabet’s.  It includes things like drinking alcohol at work is OK, but not too much. Dogs are allowed in the office but cats are discouraged.  This makes it very difficult to be an evil overlord as everyone knows you are supposed to have a white cat to stroke.

A Google spokesman said that Alphabet companies may of course have their own codes to ensure they continue to promote compliance and great values.

“But if they start bringing cats to work, there’s gonna be trouble with a capital T.”

 

Google Alphabet infuriates German carmaker

Old cars Google’s sudden move to create an umbrella company called Alphabet has annoyed a German car maker.

BMW, for it is she, appears to think that it owns the name Alphabet. It claims that the Alphabet was not invented by the Ancient Greeks, based on a Phoenician interpretation of Egyptian hieroglyphs but was originally German.

BMW has a subsidiary called Alphabet.

A spokeswoman said there were currently no plans to take legal steps against Google but it was examining if there were any trademark implications.

BMW’s Alphabet provides services to companies with vehicle fleets, operates in 18 countries and supplies 530,000 vehicles to corporate customers.

Apparently there are fears that people who hire a fleet of Bemas might have been confused and were actually searching for news on their Android phone.

A legal dispute is unlikely since Google made clear in its announcement on Monday that in creating a parent company called Alphabet, it was not intending to build products and brands under that name. Besides there is a fair bit of prior art around the name Alphabet including books written in Greek, Latin and European languages.

Alphabet is fairly common brand among American businesses. There are currently 103 trademark registrations in the United States that include the word “alphabet” or some close variation, according to a database search of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

To prove a trademark infringement, a trademark owner would have to show that the new Alphabet created a “likelihood of confusion” among consumers between the two brands. This could occur if both brands offered similar goods and services.

Google becomes Alpha and Omega

Alphabet Soup-001The search engine Google has announced a huge restructuring which will see it controlled by an umbrella company called Alphabet.

Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will move to the company and Google itself under the control of Sundar Pichai as the new CEO of Google will be “slimmed down”.

Page quotes the original founders’ letter that was written 11 years go. It states that “Google is not a conventional company”.

Writing in his bog, Page said that Alphabet will be Google’s new face and said it was more than just a rebranding, it was a complete shakeup.

Alphabet has Page as CEO, assisted by Sergey Brin in the role of president. Putting Pichai at the head of Google is part of improving the focus of the company.

Page said: “Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity). Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.”

He does go on a bit, that Page.

He said that existing Google shares would be converted into Alphabet shares as Google becomes a wholly-own subsidiary of the new company. Two classes of shares will trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG.

Page admitted that he was still getting used to the name, but then alphabets are a bit of a soup.