Archive for November, 2010

Google gives employees 10 percent raise, cash

November 27, 2010

In an apparent move to stave off defections to competitors, Google announced it is giving all its employees a $1,000 cash bonus and a raise of 10 percent, according to a source familiar with the matter.

 

The raises, which take affect January 1, 2011, apply to all 25,000 employees at the Internet giant, according to an e-mail to employees penned by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and first revealed by Business Insider. “We want to make sure that you feel rewarded for your hard work,” Schmidt wrote. “We want to continue to attract the best people to Google.” Reg Cure

 

In addition to the raise and bonus, Google will move a portion of employees’ bonuses into their base salaries, ensuring that they received the entire amount, Schmidt said in his e-mail:

 

 

 CONFIDENTIAL: INTERNAL ONLY 
GOOGLERS ONLY (FULL TIME AND PART TIME EMPLOYEES)

 

I’m pleased to share some very, very good news with Googlers worldwide. But first let me say, on behalf of everyone on the management team, that we believe we have the best employees in the world. Period. The brightest, most capable group of this size ever assembled. It’s why I’m excited to come to work every day–and I’m sure you feel the same way. We want to make sure that you feel rewarded for your hard work, and we want to continue to attract the best people to Google.


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Android gets a multi-browser advantage

November 27, 2010

The browser wars have extended to mobile devices, and that’s good news for consumers.

 

Last week, Mozilla released a second Firefox beta for Android. Yesterday, Opera released its first Opera Mobile beta for Android. Neither is ready for prime time, much less used on more than a tiny fraction of phones, but already I see them as a step forward. Regcure

 

Why? Because now there’s an important new front in the browser wars.

And while that means more stress for browser makers and more testing for Web developers, it holds the potential to dramatically improve browsing for the rest of us.

 

Today’s browser market on personal computers is on fire. Programmers for all five of the major browsers–Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera in descending order of usage–are working to add major new features to benefit users. Among the biggest changes are performance and a host of new Web technologies.

 

I don’t expect the mobile browser market to be as fluid and dynamic as the desktop browser market. But I do expect improvements from the competition.


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BlackBerry tablet out early 2011 for under $500

November 27, 2010

Research In Motion’s first tablet computer will launch in North America in the first quarter and cost less than $500, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Bloomberg late yesterday.

RIM's first tablet gets a launch target and price tag.

Regcure

Unveiling the new BlackBerry PlayBook in September, RIM was mum on the cost until now. The PlayBook’s price tag sets it up to compete with Apple’s iPad, which costs $499 for the least expensive 16GB Wi-Fi-only model.

 

The PlayBook has a 1,024×600 pixel, 7-inch display, which is smaller than the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. It includes both a front-facing and a rear-facing camera, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. The initial models will offer Wi-Fi-only connectivity, but RIM has said it plans to offer 3G and 4G models in the future. And unlike the iPad, the PlayBook will support Adobe Flash.

 

The PlayBook may be available through retail stores such as Best Buy and Target as well as from mobile carriers, Balsillie told Bloomberg. Following its North American debut, the tablet will be released elsewhere in the second quarter. South Korea will be one of the first countries on that list.

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Google’s New Feature: “Trap My Contacts Now”

November 26, 2010

Want to import your Gmail address book into Facebook? Google is happy to let you do that (although it doesn’t want to make it easy). But first, it wants you to be aware of what you’re doing — namely, that you are importing them into a place where you will never be able to get them back out again. Hence, the new message that greets anyone trying to use this feature, which has the sarcastic title: “Trap my contacts now.” In the serve-and-volley that has been going on between the two web giants over data portability in the past week, call this one a drop shot. Reg Cure

The Google message asks users: “Are you super sure you want to import your contact information for your friends into a service that won’t let you get it out?” and notes that the site the user was redirected from (Facebook’s name is never mentioned) “doesn’t allow you to re-export your data to other services, essentially locking up your contact data about your friends.” Google says it “strongly disagrees” with this kind of data protectionism, but is willing to let users export their information because it believes they should control what happens to it. The notice also contains a checkbox that allows a user to “register a complaint over data protectionism,” although it’s not clear what exactly that does.

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Android Jumps Into Second Place Worldwide

November 26, 2010

Gartner last year said Android wouldn’t be the No. 2 operating system in the world until 2012, but the future seems to have come early for the platform, which Gartner said todaygrabbed 25.5 percent of the smartphone market in the third quarter, up from 3.5 percent a year ago, good enough to move into second place behind Symbian. Regcure

The ascent of Android is well documented, and shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you’ve been watching sales over the last year. But what it suggests is that the smartphone market is still very fluid and even predictions made a year ago are proving to be wrong. We look at the momentum of Android and Apple and presume it to be a two-horse race, but the fact is that the competition is still in its early stages. Gartner said smartphones, which almost doubled in growth in the third quarter, only account for 19.3 percent of all cell phones sold in the third quarter, meaning there’s a lot of opportunity left as consumers make the shift to full-featured handsets.

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Apple’s iAd traveling to Japan

November 26, 2010

Apple’s iAd is setting up shop in Japan.

 

Released in the U.S. over the summer, the mobile ad platform will reach iPhone and iPod Touch users in Japan in early 2011, Apple said yesterday.

Apple will host, target, and deliver the ads, while Tokyo-based ad agency Dentsu Group will sell and develop them. Dentsu’s subsidiary Cyber Communications will handle the specific planning and production of the ads. Regcure 

 

“After an incredibly successful launch in the U.S. where we’ve already doubled the number of brands on the network, we’re excited to bring iAd to Japan,” Andy Miller, Apple’s vice president of iAd, said in a statement. “Dentsu is one of the world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, making them an ideal partner for iAds in Japan.”


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Google Search versus Bing for Windows Phone 7 (review)

November 24, 2010

It wouldn’t be a mobile platform if it didn’t have a dedicated Google search app, and this week the Big G ratified Windows Phone 7’s competitive existence with a search app of its own–Google Search for Windows Phone 7. Reg Cure

Like others, Google Search uses the phone’s GPS to localize searches (on the Samsung Focus, in this case). It hands out search suggestions as you type, but only if you type slowly, we found. It also keeps track of your previous searches, a boon for anyone hoping to bypass typing and repeat a search. Results appear in a browser window, which provides access to image, local, and news results as well as the Web findings.

And that’s about it. While suggestions and history are nice additions, were hoping for more than a Web shortcut from the Sovereign of Search in its debut Windows Phone app.

On the other hand, Bing’s more polished app enables voice search and spell check in addition to search suggestions. Bing’s results look more striking as well, since they manifest in an app and not in a browser search results page–just as we expect for an integrated search incumbent. Image results and search history are missing; however, Bing’s local results for “bagel” were mapped in an image and spot on.

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Cloud-computing predictions for 2011

November 24, 2010

2011 will be the Year of the X. Next year, Technology Y will kill Technology Z. Something will “die.”

These sorts of predictions are commonplace as we approach the end of the year. They have a satisfying finality to them. They’re dramatic. They’re also, with few exceptions, rarely correct–certainly not in any literal sense. Regcure

That’s because IT rarely advances in a way that invokes mass extinctions and spontaneous generation. Rather it’s a more evolutionary process. There’s lots of change but even when rapid the new stuff often doesn’t displace the old–and overnight replacements are rare indeed. For example, proclamations about the death of Bluetooth were wildly premature even though that technology didn’t live up to early promises.

This is especially true of cloud computing, given that it refers as much to the way the industry is moving to implement IT as the technology it uses to do so. Will those changes lead to broad shifts in where and how computing is done? Certainly, that’s what makes cloud computing of so much interest after all. But we’re mostly talking about transitions rather than sharp inflection points.

Within that context though, cloud computing is a rapidly developing set of trends that’s generating lots of interest and discussion. And those discussions suggest to me some things that are going to be qualitatively different next year compared to this past one and some that will remain elusive.

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Why Facebook Will Launch Mobile Chat

November 24, 2010

What will be the next big feature that Facebook introduces in terms of mobile applications? It’s not hard to come up with an answer to that question; it’s obvious that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking company will launch one-to-many “chat” as part of its mobile suite. Earlier this week in an interview, Slide CEO Max Levchin pointed out what Facebook has done well is become the “address book” of the web. By doing so, it can easily become the communication center for all sorts of services. Instant messaging is only a part of that communication. Regcure

Facebook launched an “instant messaging” app for chatting on its web platform a few years ago, and it is now is one of the largest IM networks in the world. It’s still not available on many mobile handsets, even though Facebook has 200 million mobile users and has made mobile its top priority.(iPhone App currently allows you to IM your Facebook friends, one at a time.)

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Firefox 4 gets much, much faster

November 23, 2010

One of the major components essential for the future of Firefox just landed in the beta build of the browser, and it gives the open-source browser the page-rendering speed boost that it had been lacking.

Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Firefox 4 beta 7 introduces JagerMonkey, Mozilla’s next-generation JavaScript engine that puts the browser in the same ballpark as its high-speed competitors. The old TraceMonkey engine was slow enough to no longer be in the same league as Chrome, Opera, Safari, and the Internet Explorer 9 beta.

 

Mozilla’s internal benchmarks show significant JavaScript rendering improvements for Firefox 4 beta 7’s new JagerMonkey engine.

(Credit: Mozilla, Inc.)

 

Mozilla describes the improvements as incorporating the JagerMonkey JIT compiler into the new SpiderMonkey engine, and says that users can expect to see significantly faster start-up times, page-load speed, and JavaScript-intensive Web tasks such as running apps and playing games. The company’s internal benchmarking shows Firefox 4 is three times faster than the current Firefox 3.6.12 on both Kraken and Sunspider JavaScript benchmarks, and five times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on the V8 benchmark. Engineer David Mandelin stated in a blog post that Firefox 4 will be “a little bit faster” by the time it’s finished.

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Reg Cure