Archive for Google

Google Bought Fitbit For $2.1 Billion…. Here’s Why

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 1, 2019 by itnerd

A few minutes ago, it was announced that Google had bought struggling wearables maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion.

Now this is great for Fitbit because they were bleeding cash like a drive by shooting victim in Compton CA. So it is clear why they would agree to be bought by Google. But why would Google buy them? I see a couple of reasons:

  • Google wants the data that Fitbit has: Fitbit was first to the wearables market and has a pile of data that Google would be very, VERY interested in. A lot of that data was acquired via deals with insurance companies to bundle Fitbit products in with customer health offerings. That’s something that Google can easily monetize.
  • Google needs help with Android Wear: Let’s face it, Android Wear is an afterthought. If you want proof of that, just go to any shopping mall or subway station and count the number of people wearing Apple Watches. Then count the number of Samsung wearables. Followed by the number of Fitbit products and finally Android Wear products. I suspect that you’ll see that Apple Watches will dominate what you see by a country mile, followed by Fitbit products. Samsung products may pop up now and again, and you MAY see a Google product. But likely not. If Google wants to make Android Wear a player in the wearables space, they need Fitbit to do it as clearly if Google could have done this in house, they would have done it already. Thus buying Fitbit makes sense as their expertise could help them immeasurably.

I am going to go out on a limb guess that a bunch of execs at 1 Apple Park are sending emails to their staff as we speak as they may actually have to deal with competition in the wearables market for the first time.

This should be fun.

 

So What Did Google Announce Today?

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 15, 2019 by itnerd

Google had an event called Made by Google event in New York today and they made a bunch of announcements. Here’s the highlights:

Pixel 4The new Pixel 4 and 4 XL were announced today. You can pre-order a Pixel 4 for $799 USD and Pixel 4 XL for $899 USD, and phones will ship on October 24, globally. The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL feature 5.7- and 6.3-inch OLED 90Hz “Smooth Displays.” The Pixel 4 comes with a 2,800mAh battery while the 4 XL has a 3,700mAh capacity. They use the Snapdragon 855 processors, have 6GB or RAM, and have 64 or 128GB storage. They support face unlocking. And it has a new Motion Sense feature that uses a miniature radar sensor to detect movement around the phone to turn off alarms and the like.

Pixel Buds 2The latest attempt in terms of coming up with an AirPods killer comes in the form of the Pixel Buds 2. They are truly wireless unlike the first Pixel Buds and they’ll supposedly going to fit well and securely in most ears. Pixel Buds will be available for $179 USD in spring 2020 in four colors.

Pixelbook Go: Google’s latest ChromeBook comes in the form of the Pixelbook Go. It has a 13″ screen, 8th-generation Intel Core processors, up to 16GB RAM, up to 256GB flash storage, up to 12 hours of battery life, a backlight keyboard with soft typing, two USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. It’s 13mm thick and weighs just over two pounds. Expect to fork out $879 USD and up for one. You can preorder today in North America.

Stadia: Google also gave a firm launch date of November 19 for its Stadia gaming service.

Nest Mini and Nest Wifi: Finally Google unveiled the Nest Mini. Key features include stronger bass and faster response times. There’s also the Nest Wifi router with two times the speed and up to 25 percent better coverage. You can pick up the Nest Mini for $49 USD. As for the Nest WiFi, you can get a two pack with one router and one point for $269 USD or a three pack with one router and two points for $349 USD. 

If you want to watch the full announcement, here’s the video: 

 

Google Under Antitrust Investigation By All 50 US States

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 9, 2019 by itnerd

US States rarely agree on anything. But they apparently agree on an antitrust investigation of Google. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a higher number of states investigating Google versus the number investigating Facebook. Here’s the details from CNBC:

Fifty attorneys general are joining an investigation into Google over possible antitrust violations, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the initiative’s leader, announced Monday.

The news confirms reports last week about the bipartisan investigation into Google’s practices. The probe includes attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. California and Alabama are not involved in the probe, Paxton said at a press conference.

Other attorneys general at the media conference emphasized Google’s dominance in the ad market and use of consumer data.

“When there is no longer a free market or competition, this increases prices, even when something is marketed as free, and harms consumers,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican. “Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company’s control?”

This is a big problem for Google as an investigation that is this big involving this many states has to mean that it’s not if but when they find something to hang Google on. I guess  we’ll find out soon if that’s true or not.

Apple Calls Out Google’s Project Zero Claims Regarding Security Vulnerabilities in iOS [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 6, 2019 by itnerd

Back in the day, Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” on Google. It now seems that we may be headed back to those days. I say that because you might recall that Google’s Project Zero put out a statement on zero day attacks that targeted iOS that they found. I then posted a story that said that not only were the attacks aimed at the Uighur minority in China, and likely done by China, but Google failed to mention that the attacks covered Android and Windows as well.

Now Apple has decided to return fire as only Apple can. The company issued a press release that says among other things this:

First, the sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones “en masse” as described. The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community. Regardless of the scale of the attack, we take the safety and security of all users extremely seriously.

Google’s post, issued six months after iOS patches were released, creates the false impression of “mass exploitation” to “monitor the private activities of entire populations in real time,” stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised. This was never the case.

Second, all evidence indicates that these website attacks were only operational for a brief period, roughly two months, not “two years” as Google implies. We fixed the vulnerabilities in question in February — working extremely quickly to resolve the issue just 10 days after we learned about it. When Google approached us, we were already in the process of fixing the exploited bugs.

The more that this story goes on, the worse that Google looks. It will be interesting to see if Google responds to this as they’ve pretty much been called out and if they don’t respond, the reputation of Project Zero will be in tatters and un-repairable.

Over to you Google.

UPDATE: Google shot back via The Verge saying that it stands by its statement. Game on Apple.

More Trouble For Google As US States Team Up To Investigate It Over Possible Antitrust Violations

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 4, 2019 by itnerd

It seems that more than half the states in the USA are about to team up to launch an antitrust investigation. At least that’s what the Washington Post is reporting:

More than half of the nation’s state attorneys general are readying an investigation into Google for potential antitrust violations, scheduled to be announced next week, marking a major escalation in U.S. regulators’ efforts to probe Silicon Valley’s largest companies.

A smaller group of these state officials, representing the broader coalition, is expected to unveil the investigation at a Monday news conference in Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a law enforcement proceeding on the record, cautioning the plans could change.

It is unclear whether some or all of the attorneys general also plan to open or announce additional probes into other tech giants, including Amazon and Facebook, which have faced similar U.S. antitrust scrutiny. The states’ effort is expected to be bipartisan and could include more than 30 attorneys general, one of the people said.

This is big trouble for Google as if they are deemed to be doing bad things on the antitrust front, things will get ugly. Just ask Microsoft when they ran into issues on the antitrust front. You have bet that there’s a bunch of execs at Google who are sweating buckets right now as this is far from a trivial development for the company.

Google Gets A Slap On The Wrist For Collecting Children’s Data On YouTube And Making Money By Doing So

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 4, 2019 by itnerd

US regulators need to learn that the only way to alter the behavior of billion dollar companies is to serve up fines that hurt. A case in point is this report from the New York Times that has Google cutting a $170 million cheque to the FTC because it was caught collecting children’s data on YouTube and making money off that data:

Google on Wednesday agreed to pay a record $170 million fine and to make changes to protect children’s privacy on YouTube, as regulators said the video site had knowingly and illegally harvested personal information from youngsters and used that data to profit by targeting them with ads.

The measures were part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general. They said YouTube had violated a federal children’s privacy law known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.

The fact is $170 million is a rounding error to a company that had revenues of almost $40 billion dollars last quarter. Meaning that this will do nothing to send a message that such behavior is unacceptable.  If the FTC and others really want to send that message, I would say fines have to be in the same range as the GDPR which really hurt companies who run afoul of it.

It Seems That Google Was Playing Fast And Loose With The Apple Exploits That They Published Last Week

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 2, 2019 by itnerd

Last week, I posted this tweet:

This was mind blowing that there were this many exploits for the iPhone floating around out there. The good news is that Apple patched them earlier this year. But Forbes has a story that indicates not only was this more extensive than thought, but we now know who the target was. And we now know that Google wasn’t telling us all the details:

Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said that Google’s own Android operating system and Microsoft Windows PCs were also targeted in a campaign that sought to infect the computers and smartphones of the Uighur ethnic group in China. That community has long been targeted by the Chinese government, in particular in the Xinjiang region, where surveillance is pervasive.

Google’s and Microsoft’s operating systems were targeted via the same websites that launched the iPhone hacks, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. That Android and Windows were targeted is a sign that the hacks were part of a broad, two-year effort that went beyond Apple phones and infected many more than first suspected. One source suggested that the attacks were updated over time for different operating systems as the tech usage of the Uighur community changed…

The attacks appear to form part of a mass surveillance operation taking place on Uighur civilians, who’ve faced various forms of persecution in Xinjiang. Surveillance cameras are scattered across the region and facial recognition is prevalent.

Googles reputation has taken a monster dive with this revelation. When I first read this, it seemed that this were centered around iOS. But that’s apparently not true. They kind of left out the fact that Android which is Google’s own OS was affected by this along with Microsoft Windows. That’s a #Fail on Google’s part. Someone needs to slap them over that.

As for the fact that China is apparently behind this. I’m not shocked. China are the dirtiest players in the game. You can bet that they had other attacks on every platform ready to go after these ones were discovered. Hopefully this incident forces everyone from the average user to Microsoft, Apple, and Google to up their game.