A theory on Google and Microsoft

Post ImageI have a theory regarding Google and Microsoft. The two technology giants are often pitted against one another, and hey, you have to admit it’s fun to do. Will Google make inroads on the desktop? Will Microsoft win the battle for Internet search? And on, and on. Ignoring how silly it is to need to declare a winner, here’s my theory: Microsoft is going to win, and their technology won’t be the reason.

Consider for example this article in The Register:

“Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story,” noted reporter Elinor Mills here.

Google isn’t alone in amassing one of the world’s largest databases of personal information and behavior – as Yahoo! and Microsoft have too. But the retaliation against the news site is only likely to focus more attention to Google’s often contemptuous attitude to press and analyst scrutiny (on its first ever financial analyst day the company offered its chef, but not its CFO) and puts its privacy issues firmly in the spotlight.

I would argue that the best thing to happen to Microsoft in the last few years was the major anti-trust trial. Since that major public relations debacle, Microsoft has become much more friendly. They have become a kinder giant. The things Google is accused of doing in the above article sound like something the Microsoft of old might have done.

And therein lies the reason I think Microsoft is going to prevail. They’re still as cutthroat as ever, and yet they’ve learned to be come across as anything but. Google, on the other hand, needs to have its hubris checked, and I think Microsoft is just the company to do so. If Google doesn’t make some changes, Microsoft is going to clobber them in the eyes of the public, not to mention in the eyes of the media.

And if recent tools like MSN Search and Virtual Earth are any indication, Microsoft will nail Google on technology too.

Read: The Register

Google Maps Pedometer

Post ImageI came across a really cool tool this afternoon (via Penmachine) – Gmaps Pedometer! Basically its a tool that someone named Paul cooked up that lets you draw a route on Google Maps and it will calculate the distance for you.

I started playing with it and found myself getting addicted! So you have been warned, this tool might lower your productivity as you try to figure out the distances of all the little routes you take. For example, the route I take to the office from home is about 14 KM, while the route from the office back home (I go a different way) is about 12 KM. The tool only displays distances in miles, so I converted them using Google’s calculator.

Give it a shot! You might discover that the route you take is longer (or shorter) than you think! I am not entirely certain how accurate the results are, but they seem pretty reasonable to me.

Read: Gmaps Pedometer

Google's Personalized Home Page

Post ImageGoogle is the search engine everyone loves to love. And they are not a portal, oh no, they are definitely not that evil word portal. And yet, we have Google News. We have Google Mail. We even have Google Groups and Google Local. Possibly the only “portal” feature missing is a customizable page. Well, that was the only thing missing.

Feast your eyes on Google’s new personalized home page. You can now customize Google to display your Gmail, articles from Google News, weather for your area, your stocks, and more. Your new selections come in a simple, fast loading, very Google-esque page.

Just remember, Google is not a portal 😉

Read: Google

Google Web Accelerator

Google announced on Wednesday the release of Google Web Accelerator,
beta of course. Basically it’s an Internet accelerator, designed simply
to make your web browsing experience faster. Here’s how it works:

  • Sending your page requests through Google machines dedicated to handling Google Web Accelerator traffic.
  • Storing copies of frequently looked at pages to make them quickly accessible.
  • Downloading only the updates if a web page has changed slightly since you last viewed it.
  • Prefetching certain pages onto your computer in advance.
  • Managing your Internet connection to reduce delays.
  • Compressing data before sending it to your computer.

As other have noted
however, the application also makes heavy use of Google’s servers, and
could allow them to collect some pretty interesting aggregate data on
the surfing habits of web users. Is that a good or bad thing? Who
knows. Maybe they’ll figure out a way to tie it into their advertising
network. Or maybe they’ll ignore it completely. At least they don’t
track you specifically.

Google Video Upload

If you’re into the whole video podcasting or video-blogging thing, you can now upload your videos to Google. Here’s their mission:

Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Currently, Google Video lets you search a growing archive of televised content — everything from sports events to dinosaur documentaries to news programs. In addition to televised content, we’re now accepting video from anyone who wants to upload content to us. Uploaded content will not be immediately available to users searching Google Video as this is just the submission stage of the program. But (if you’ll pardon the pun) stay tuned.

If all you want to do is index video, does that really require uploading of the video? Seems to me there must be more to it. Check it out anyway, at Google Video.

Google is #6 for "britney spears"

Go to Google and run a search for “britney spears”. Or, if you’re lazy, click here. See what the number six result is? Yep, that’s a Google page. It’s significant, because the pop princess is the 16th most popular search term on the web. Millions of people search for britney spears on Google. It’s also significant because the page is usless.

So why does Google rank so high for this search? A combination of two things. First of all, Google needs to upgrade their algorithms – or else MSN/Yahoo will easily surpass them. Secondly, Google should follow their own best practices! They basically invented the rel=”nofollow” tag which would have prevent their page from appear in the top ten, so why aren’t they using it?

Either it’s an honest mistake, or the whole “do no evil” mantra has gone to the crapper. For more on that, visit FuckedGoogle.com.

Read: Stephan Spencer

Google News Sued!

I, like most people, have always said it was only a matter of time. Google News, the perpetually beta service, has finally had a lawsuit brought against it:

Agence France Presse has sued Google, alleging the Web search leader includes AFP’s photos, news headlines and stories on its news site without permission. AFP said it has informed Google that it is not authorized to use AFP’s copyrighted material as it does and has asked Google to cease and desist from infringing its copyright work.

Read: CNET News.com