Popular online discount coupon service Groupon is said to be considering an acquisition bid by Google.
Citing people with the knowledge of the talks between the two companies, Bloomberg reported that Groupon is currently considering whether to accept Google’s offer or to move ahead with a fresh round of funding that could value the company at $3 billion.
According to the Bloomberg sources, the company’s management held talks last week in order to discuss both possibilities and is currently leaning towards an acquisition. However, the company will not be making a decision until the end of this year.
If Google manages to acquire Groupon, its online advertising business could receive a significant boost and would provide Google entry into the lucrative web based discount coupon market.
However, Bloomberg said that Groupon may decide against the Google acquisition as a previous attempt by Yahoo had fallen through.
Groupon representatives refused to comment on the matter.
Google has been let off very lightly by the Information Commissioner Office after it promised to delete all the Wi-Fi data that its Street View cars had downloaded in the UK.
One however must ask (a) who will check whether Google has actually deleted the data given that it is only available in electronic format and can therefore be cloned ad infinitum and (b) how do we know that Google will not make use of the secondary data extracted from the Wi-Fi database to get a competitive advantage over its rivals.
Fortunately for Google (and unfortunately for the rest of us), the deputy information commissioner, David Smith, said that the ICO spent less time searching than others like the Canadian authorities did, before unceremoniously adding that if they had searched for days and days, they would have found more.
The ICO has already said that they will do an audit of Google’s internal privacy structure, training programs and privacy reviews for new products (ed : what about existing ones?) within the next nine months.
Over a period of more than four years, Google Street View cars systematically criss-crossed 30 countries worldwide, collecting more than 600GB worth of data, whose nature, no one really knows.
Did Google know about the data? Certainly yes. Did Google use it? We shall never know even if the search engine giant would strongly deny it. Was there anyone fired over the privacy violation? Not that we know.
Google has released an HTML 5-based online guidebook for the internet.
The book, titled “20 Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web”, has been created in collaboration with illustrator Christoph Niemann and aims to instruct people on the every day technologies they use to access the web.
According to Google, the book has been released to mark the 20th anniversary of the proposal for World Wide Web released by Sir Tim-Berners Lee, the founder of the web.
Google said that the book has been written by the Chrome team and strives to explain “complex but fascinating ideas about technology.” Some of the examples used to explain the internet make reference to the Chrome web browser, Google said.
Min Li Chan, Product Marketing Manager, Google Chrome, wrote: “We built ’20 Things’ in HTML5 so that we could incorporate features that hearken back to what we love about books—feeling the heft of a book’s cover, flipping a page or even reading under the covers with a flashlight.”
Google has slammed web censorship policies used by countries like China and Turkey, describing them as the “trade barriers of the 21st century”.
In a blog post, the company said that blocking the free flow of information on the internet not only violates human rights, but also harms trade practices.
Google explained that the internet had been a huge influence on the development of countries and trade over the last two decades but practices adopted by some countries were threatening to harm the “engine of economic growth”.
“Governments are blocking online services, imposing non-transparent regulation, and seeking to incorporate surveillance tools into their Internet infrastructure. These are the trade barriers of the 21st century economy,” Google said.
The company has urged US, European and other western policy makers in a white paper to join together and break down the trade barriers of web censorship imposed by some countries.
Google launched its new venture called Boutiques.com without much fanfare but the project could herald a new era where the search engine becomes a more active (and aggressive) partner and co-opetitor.
Boutiques.com is an evolution of the existing Product Search (formerly known as Froggle) which is a giant database of products pulled together by vendors themselves and by the army of Google spiders and bots.
Product Search acts as the equivalent of a price comparison website and has been keen over the past few years to emphasise the fact that it won’t charge vendors to get their products listed in the giant catalogue.
However, Google’s latest project may herald an abrupt change in strategy from the search giant and Boutiques.com contains many clues as to where it might go next.
Firstly, the layout and general look of the site looks like no other Google-branded websites; indeed, it is difficult to believe that this is indeed a Google website.
It is sleek, beautifully crafted and most important of all, doesn’t contain Google’s Logo. The team of crack engineers brought together by Google aimed at making of Boutiques.com the equivalent of your own personal shopper.
One that they say, will create your own “curated” boutique; this is done either though machine learning and computer vision or through the input of taste-makers (or shall we say trend setters).
It’s interesting to note that Google uses the terms “curated” and “hand-curated” to define the process of “filtering out” content either through AI or through human experience.
They’ve already said that they plan to expand the offering in the future, moving to other non-US market, catering for a much bigger audience and critically, getting involved in many other segments as well (grocery, home decoration etc).
By doing so, Google will be coming into direct competition with the likes of Amazon, Ebay, Pricegrabber, Shopping.com and a wealth of many other price aggregators and comparison websites.
Google is rolling-out of a new AdSense online advertisement interface for its 2 million users around the world.
According to the company, the update will offer the product in 30 languages across 200 countries.
The company said that the new interface, which underwent one full year of intense testing before being launched, will let ad publishers access existing and new features to make them more money.
Google said that the new AdSense will offer users more detailed reports on the performance of their ads by: ad type, ad size, ad unit, targeting type, bid type for total earnings, along with graphs in relevant places.
“All ad controls are now in one place, on the Allow and block ads tab. Here, you’ll be able to filter ads from specific advertisers, categories, and ad networks,” Google explained in an Inside AdSense blog post.
“You can now search for ads in the ad review centre by ad type, keyword, URL, or ad network, and choose to allow or block them,” the company added.
Google’s vice president has warned that Europe will run out of IP addresses by early next year, isolating the UK from rest of the online world.
Vint Cerf, considered by many as the “godfather of the internet”, implored the UK government and businesses to switch to the IPv6 standard as the world is running out of IPv4 space, with only four per cent of it left free.
He urged UK ISPs to implement the technology as soon as possible. Cerf is the latest in a line of experts who have warned governments and businesses of the fast decreasing supply of IP address in the current IPv4 format.
Most of the European web addresses are based on the IPv4 standard. Considering the growth of the internet, the remaining space will be exhausted by spring next year.
The Google executive said that limited IP address were a “serious boundary” to the growth of internet and a problem that should addressed as soon as possible.
“You need to be able to talk to everyone in the world [who] is on the internet. If Europe doesn’t implement IPv6, it wont be able to talk to the rest of the world that does implement IPv6 – that’s stupid, and we don’t want people here to be stupid,” he said.
Search engine giant Google has invested $3.2 million in genetics start-up 23andMe, which was founded by Google CEO Sergey Brin’s wife Anne Wojcicki.
The new company, which has thus far received a total of $10.2 million in finance from Google’s investment arm Google Ventures, raised a total of $22 million in this recent round of funding.
In a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Google said it had taken part in a Series C preferred financing round and continues to hold a minority stake in 23andMe, ABC news reports.
The company added that a new lead investor had determined the valuation of the investment, not Google. As of yet the name of the new majority stakeholder has not been revealed.
Apart from Google and the unnamed lead investor, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and New Enterprise Associates also participated in the latest round of funding.
The company, which has raised more than $44 million since its inception, has also received $3.4 million personally from Sergey Brin.
Google has introduced a link-up with the Samaritans, displaying the charity’s help-line number on its web search platform.
According to Google, when a user search query includes words like ‘suicide’ or ‘commit suicide’, a red telephone icon will appear above the search results along with the help-line number for the charity.
Google said that after it had introduced a similar feature in the US, distress calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline support group had increased by 9 per cent.
The company’s UK managing director Matt Brittin said in a statement: “We hope that by adding a highly visible link on searches relating to suicide, Google can guide those who are vulnerable, distressed or suicidal to the renowned expertise and support offered by Samaritans.”
The UK charity Samaritans welcomed the company’s move, and called the new feature a “positive step”.
“The internet is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that allows people to access huge amounts of information, much of which is helpful but some of which can occasionally be dangerous,” the organisation said.
Google has added a new feature to its search service, designed to give users a preview of their search result without having to leave the page.
Named Google Instant Previews, the feature is a visual search results tool that provides users with a graphical over view of their search results, helping them to quickly decide which result is more related to their query.
The tool is designed to significantly reduced the time spent on looking for the most relevant search results.
Previously, in a bid to make the search process faster, the search giant had launched Google Instant, which allowed users to receive search results as soon as they started typing.
Google explained in a blog post that in order to activate the Instant Preview features all users had to do was click on the magnifying glass beside a search result, which will then open a visual search overview of the page on the right.
“In our testing, we’ve found that people who use Instant Previews are about 5 per cent more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit,” Google said.
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