Google just released its 11th annual Zeitgeist site, covering the most searched terms in 2011. In a year that brought us the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, nuclear disaster in Japan, floods in Brazil, and the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the fastest growing search turns out to have been a manufactured pop star. Don’t ever change, humans! No, you’re good just like you are.
Google landed on the right side of the privacy debate by making its newly released facial recognition feature for Google+ opt-in. If you’ll remember, “Tag Suggestions,” Facebook’s similar service, is not only opt-out, but also strongly encouraged! (“Before you opt out of using this feature, we encourage you to consider how tag suggestions benefit you and your friends. . . “) Read More
Google rarely if ever discusses the secrets of the inner workings of the tech giant’s search algorithms or the changes they’re constantly making to it. Today, they did. What were they, and why’d they want to talk? Read More
If you’ve never heard of Google X, a secret lair hidden away in some undisclosed Bay Area location, you’re in good company. Many Google employees haven’t either.
The future-facing lab makes Google’s 80/20 model for fostering innovation sound like child’s play. Rather than devoting part of the week to somewhat far-fetched ideas, the New York Times reports, Google X is “tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas.”
That “stars” part is somewhat literal. One of the projects its developing is a space elevator, “a longtime fantasy of Google’s founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs” that images space travel along a cable tied to Earth. Read More
Google+ Pages Proves Mark Zuckerberg Was Right: Google Is ‘Trying to Build Their Own Little Version of Facebook’
In an interview with Mark Zuckerberg that airs tonight, Charlie Rose speaks in grave tones about the impending platform cage match that will define our technological future. “There are many people who look to the Silicon Valley and they say there are four platforms out here. It’s Amazon, it’s Apple, it’s Google, it’s Facebook. And what we’re going to witness over the next 10 years is a flat-out war between the four of you for the future.”
Mr. Zuckerberg shrugs off the war metaphor: “I mean, people like to talk about war. You know, there are a lot of ways in which the companies actually work together,” pointing to Facebook’s mutual back-scratching with Amazon and Apple. (AllThingsD has the full transcript.) But eventually, Zuck concedes, “Google, I think, in some ways, is more competitive and certainly is trying to build their own little version of Facebook.”
After taking a look at the newly-launched Google+ Pages for businesses, brands, groups, artists, places, and more along with its Direct Connect feature, it’s obvious that Google is not even pretending otherwise anymore. Read More
Near field communication is now as near as our friend to the south and east. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced today that Google Wallet would be partnering with NJ Transit, the third largest transit system in the country.
Eric Schmidt made his much-anticipated appearance in Washington D.C. yesterday for the Senate antitrust hearings on Google. Sadly, it was not the show Betabeat was hoping for.
Not only did Congress fail to familiarize itself with how the internet works and seem confused as to whether they wanted to chastize Google or beseech it to bring broadband to their home states. But Mr. Schmidt, who could always be counted on for a wry/terrifying turn-of-phrase during his tenure as CEO, seemed to have been coached into submission.
He did, however manage to sneak in a few quips into his prepared remarks. Read More
How much is a catalog of restaurant reviews better-associated with a little red book worth in the Yelp area? Not a heckuva lot according the Wall Street Journal. The paper’s source says Google paid a mere $125 million to acquire the 32-year-old company. That’s the same valuation Zagat claimed in an investment round 11 years ago. Zagat took itself off the market back in 2008 when no buyer came forward willing to meet its asking price of $200 million. Read More
If you’ve ever tried to click on a restaurant listing off of Google Places, well, let’s just say it makes you miss Yelp. And if you’ve ever used Google Offers instead of Groupon, then you’d be the first person Betabeat has ever heard of. This might explain why Google just acquired Zagat. After failing to acquire both Yelp and Groupon, Zagat’s millions of ratings and reviews “will be a cornerstone of our local offering,” writes Google’s Marissa Mayer in a peppy post announcing the news.
The deal price has yet to be disclosed, but as Business Insider points out, Zagat took a reported $200 million acquisition price off the table back in 2008 when it couldn’t find any buyers. Indeed, although Ms. Mayer touts Zagat’s 32-year-old history (they made the Silicon Alley Reporter 100 list back in 2001 for being ahead of this whole internet thing) and the fact that “their surveys may be one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet as we know it today even existed,” Zagat questionnaires seem a touch out-of-date with more lightweight UGC in these more mobile times, i.e. Yelp, Foursquare tips, etc. Read More
At some point yesterday we saw a tweet that described the air quality in New York right now as not unlike walking through the inside of a dog’s mouth. Sounds about right. It’s the kind of oppressive weather that affects everything from subway platform demeanor (much more death-like) to clothing choice (midriff baring at an all-time high!) to the will to move two feet in any direction from your busted window unit A/C, which, let’s be honest, you didn’t even bother to properly insulate this year. Sorry, environment! Apparently, it’s also affecting New Yorker’s internet habits.
Betabeat’s sources at Googleplex East noticed some changes in what locals were searching for online and sent us over a report comparing July, 2011 to July, 2010. Here’s what they found. Read More