Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Google released Writley/SpereadSheet as Google Docs.

[Quote= Copied from Wall Street journal]

Just as Microsoft Corp. is about to roll out the latest version of its cash-cow Office applications, Google Inc. is beefing up efforts that could win away some of the customers Microsoft is targeting.

Google's latest move, expected to be announced today, is a plan to bundle its existing word-processing and spreadsheet offerings -- online applications that people can use through their Web browsers -- under the name Google Docs & Spreadsheets and more tightly weave them together. The services, which are available free, offer more-limited functions than Microsoft's word processor and spreadsheet programs, which people use the old-fashioned way on their personal computers.


Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told reporters last week that Microsoft's hold on customers who aren't "professional users" of its core Office product "may be vulnerable." The Web search giant is targeting average consumer users and organizations such as universities as it continues to expand email, calendar, spreadsheet and word-processing services that overlap with Microsoft offerings.

Google's push comes as Microsoft puts the finishing touches on Office 2007, the latest version of its ubiquitous set of business programs, due by the end of the year. The programs, taken together, are Microsoft's largest generator of revenue and profit after its Windows operating system. They are also deeply entrenched in the world's large and small businesses around the world.

Free equivalents of Office have existed for years and failed to crack Microsoft's market share, But over the past two years, a growing number of Internet companies, including Google, have started to make concerted efforts to pick away at the business, which accounted for $11.8 billion in revenue for Microsoft in the year ended June 30.

Working in favor of these Internet interlopers is a continuing shift by businesses and consumers to software used over the Internet. For decades most computing tasks were handled with software that was installed on computers. Microsoft defined that era with its Windows operating system and its Office suite of applications.

In recent years, though, as high-speed broadband Internet connections have spread to homes and offices, an increasing number of computer users have begun experimenting with software applications hosted over the Web. With just a Web browser, they can use software over the Internet that's free or available by subscription.

Kyle McNabb, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says that Google's moves are less about grabbing market share today than about changing behavior and getting consumers accustomed to free online software that they now buy from Microsoft. "Google is helping set the expectations that you don't have to go buy these things," he says. "This is going to have an impact over five to 10 years."

Microsoft Vice President Antoine Leblond says that Microsoft doesn't have plans to roll out an online version of Office. Instead, he says, the company is building online services designed to work with Office, a strategy that would tap the benefits of online programs without cannibalizing Office. "The future of software is going to be the combination of client applications [like Office] and [online] services," Mr. Leblond says. "It's not going to be one or the other -- the black or white approach."

Mr. Schmidt said last week that Google was "not in the business of building Office," which he said was well suited for "professional users." But the comments by Mr. Schmidt, who has long played down any competition with Microsoft, make much clearer Google's likely core target market: users at home, in educational settings, and at small- and medium-size businesses. It could also include professional users who rely on Google for personal applications. Mr. Schmidt said Google's calendar application is better than Microsoft's for family members sharing their schedules, primarily because it is free and allows such sharing to take place easily online.

Google has rolled out a range of free online services. Some of them carry advertisements, and it hopes others will entice people to use its ad-supported services more. In contrast, Microsoft licenses Office to businesses and sells it to consumers for about $400.

Microsoft plays down the potential threat to Office from Google, arguing that online software can't have the same full features that computer users demand. It can also be slow, and many businesses are loath to entrust core business functions and data to outside companies.

Microsoft's Mr. Leblond says that Google will also find it increasingly difficult to add new features to its programs, in part because the programs rely on browser software for many of their functions. So for instance, printing is much more limited than printing from an Office program, he says. "The technology they are using has some inherent limits," he says. "They are going to hit up against these limits."

But Google says it isn't trying to match all the features of traditional productivity software. "We believe that 90% of users don't necessarily need 90% of the functions that are in there," says Jonathan Rochelle, a product manager for Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

With the Google products, a user can save any documents on Google's servers, accessing them from anywhere that can connect to the Internet. Other key differences with Microsoft: Besides being free, Google services make it easier for users to share files and work on them simultaneously, Google executives say. One important similarity: The Google services can generally save and open files in Microsoft-compatible formats.

"We're building a different way of dealing with complex, powerful information that is online all the time, on every device, and fully shared," explained Mr. Schmidt.

Google is now trying to drive a shift toward this sort of consumer usage. The Mountain View, Calif., company earlier this year bought Writely, a Web-based word-processing service, and rolled out its own spreadsheet product. In August it began offering Google Apps for Your Domain, a package that allows organizations to tap email, calendar, instant-messaging and Web-page creation services that run on Google's computers. Google executives had said that word-processing and spreadsheets were "good candidates" to be added to that offering, which is geared toward organizations and small businesses.

Google's Gmail email service had 9.7 million U.S. visitors in September, and its Calendar service had 896,000, according to comScore Networks Inc. The research firm didn't have usage statistics for Google's word-processing or spreadsheet services.

Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, thinks that Microsoft will need to respond more directly to Google's moves. He predicts -- despite Microsoft's denials -- that the company will offer a lower-end version of Office over the next year that's aimed at consumers and small businesses.

"I think that they are leaving the door wide open for Google to deliver a broader solution on their online platform," Mr. Sherlund says. Microsoft needs "to be serious about trying to shut that door on Google."


reference :

Orkut in trouble over "I hate India" community

Google’s online community web site Orkut has run into trouble for “spreading hatred against the country”.

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court, comprising Justice AP Deshpande and Justice RM Borde, issued notice to Google last week following a public interest litigation initiated by 22-year-old advocate Yugant R Marlapalle.

In his petition, Marlapalle, who is also an Orkut member, took exception to a community called ‘We hate India’, owned by someone who identifies himself as Miroslav Stankovic. The community features a picture of the Tricolour being burnt.

“My prayer is to direct Google to remove communities that spread hatred against India, the national flag, and all deities in the country,” Marlapalle told DNA. “My objection is to the offending communities, not Orkut.”

He has cited the provisions of section 75 of the Information Technology Act, which empowers authorities to file charges for offences or contravention committed outside India by any person irrespective of nationality.

A Google India spokeswoman told DNA that US courts have jurisdiction over Orkut. Besides, the web site has terms of service that mandate users to abide by rules prohibiting impersonation as well as vulgar and offensive comments or images. She was unable to say, however, if Google had received the court notice.

Orkut has been misused in India before. Last month, the Kolkata police caught spurned lovers who posted fake obscene profiles of girls they dated on the community site.

Only recently, Google was forced to hand over data of specific users to Brazilian authorities, following allegations that Orkut was being used for illegal activities, including child pornography.

Google has earlier raised eyebrows in India with its highly detailed maps of sensitive locations, available freely online.
Cyber law experts say the case only highlights the fact that India lacks laws to deal with hate speech.

In this case, one would have to invoke section 65 of the IT Act, terming Google a network service provider and making it liable for all third party issues.

“We don’t have a national policy against hate speech,” cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said. “It would be interesting to know how the case develops over jurisdictions that cross national boundaries.” Union IT Secretary Jaswinder Singh said the government would respond after studying the web site and getting the court notice.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google acquired YouTube

[Courtsey: Wall Street Journal]

With its $1.65 billion agreement to acquire YouTube Inc., Google Inc. may be able to broaden its online-advertising business and boost its video offerings to meet the rapidly changing viewing habits of consumers.

The all-stock purchase announced yesterday of closely held YouTube, a 19-month-old, San Bruno, Calif., startup with 67 employees, highlights users' growing consumption of video online and the booming sales of Web advertising. The hefty price tag also reflects the interest of other media and technology companies in acquiring YouTube as a way to jump-start their online-video efforts.  

The deal -- the largest in Google's eight-year history -- marries Google's massive collection of computers, data lines and systems for serving up online ads from hundreds of thousands of advertisers with YouTube's leading position in playing videos for users on the Web. It could transform Google, of Mountain View, Calif., into a bigger power broker for the distribution of video online, following the mixed track record of its own online-video efforts. YouTube has said that consumers view videos through its service, ranging from homemade videos to movie clips, more than 100 million times daily.

"This is going to allow us to continue to develop features for our community and our partners, allow us to sharpen our focus," said YouTube Chief Executive Chad Hurley in an interview. "We'll be able to leverage the technology and resources of Google to supercharge our efforts in those areas."

[Fast Forward]

The acquisition could also boost Google's ambitions to significantly broaden its ad-brokering activities beyond simple text ads on Web pages to larger amounts of video advertising online. The Web-search company places ads, often targeted by specific keywords such as "Chicago hotel," on its own and partner sites using an automated online system and has said it intends to also broker ads in radio, print media and television.

"We believe the combination of Google and YouTube will create this very new and interesting global media platform for users, content providers and advertisers all around the world," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt during a conference call announcing the deal.


Yahoo Inc., News Corp. and Microsoft Corp. were among the other companies that expressed interest in acquiring YouTube, say people familiar with the matter. YouTube had earlier passed on a lower offer from Google and held acquisition discussions with Yahoo, which tendered an offer in recent weeks, say people familiar with the matter. Yahoo's offer, valid for 24-hours, expired amid its concerns about copyright- and revenue-related issues though talks continued after the expiration, one of the people says.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company "evaluated acquiring this type of technology several months ago" but decided to build its own service, a test version of which opened recently.

Meanwhile, Google significantly increased its offer and deal talks between the two gathered intensity late Tuesday, when Google's Mr. Drummond and YouTube Chief Financial Officer Gideon Yu drafted a term sheet, a person familiar with the matter says. In parallel, the two companies worked to complete content and ad-revenue-sharing partnerships with the major music companies and CBS Corp. that were announced yesterday morning.

News Corp. sniffed around YouTube as recently as last week, but never made a firm offer because the start-up said it was not for sale, say people familiar with the matter. On Friday, when the news of the Google negotiations surfaced, News Corp. sent a letter to YouTube asking for an opportunity to participate in the sale process, according to the familiar people. YouTube didn't respond, these people said. Behind the scenes, Google's deal to purchase YouTube is threatening to create a rift between Google and News Corp., which jointly made headlines in August with an ad-brokering deal under which Google guaranteed revenue of $900 million over three and a half years to News Corp. for its MySpace social-networking service and other sites.

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