Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Is Google Voice Aiming To Be The Next Skype?

Google Voice has been a very loved product among the invite-only American users that it currently serves. By giving an opportunity to replace all your different call numbers with one number from Google Voice, users have finally been able to consolidate their communications at one place. Also, with features like threaded SMS, voicemail transcriptions and conference calling, the potential of this service started to show.

However, Google wants more out of this. Last month, the company acquired VoIP based startup, Gizmo5 who joined the talented workforce at Voice. So what is the company now looking at? In a recent interview with E-Week, Google Vice President of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz opined that all the features currently available are merely “scratching the surface”. Horowitz insisted that his team was working on a much improved product come 2010. Horowitz says

We want to make sure you’re communication is available to you irrespective of where you are at, what device you have in your pocket, etc.

Rumors are that Google has been working to move Voice completely into a VoIP service, effectively competing with Skype. This way, the company would be expanding outside US and could be launching a worldwide service. Also, with current capabilities with features like threaded SMSes, the service prove to be pretty effective. Also, with call forwarding features, American users who use Google Voice to consolidate their calling numbers can continue to make use of this functionality.

As always, Google has not explicitly let their intentions known. But that is a pretty likely possibility. What do you think of this move?

[via eWeek]

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

NexusOne.com – Who Owns The Domain Name?

Google has of late been busy bringing to books those companies trying to violate their trademark. In the past one month alone, Google brought to court 64 such domain names. 62 of them, except for Groovle.com and Froogles.com were seen as names confusingly similar to Google’s and were ordered by the courts that they be handed over to Big G.

In less than a week from now, we will be seeing Google’s own smartphone in the market. Google has decided to handle all the distribution by itself – online. While at present, it is believed that interested consumers need to visit Google.com/phone to make their purchases, it is likely that this shall move to an independent domain name in the future. That could be NexusOne.com in all likelihood.

So who owns NexusOne.com? At present, the website redirects to a website called AltamiraFinishes.com. The website claims to be owned by Altamira Mineral Paint company based out of Philippines. We are not really sure if this is a legitimate company website. The website is hosted at DreamHost, but the Who Is information is not really helpful.

The website is supposedly developed by Rodel Sinapilo. This is more likely to be the owner of the site and not the designer since the footer link to the developer points to a WordPress.com page which is itself on a free theme.

Anyway, irrespective of who owns the domain, it shall be interesting to see if Google is interested in laying claim to this domain name soon. Will NexusOne.com be number 65 in Google’s recent fight against domain names violating its trademark? Time will tell.

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

How Google Nexus One Invites System Will Work?

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Google’s upcoming mobile phone, named Nexus One. However, the biggest point of contention is how anyone can purchase a device themselves. It is implicitly understood that the whole distribution will be via an invites system, and that Nexus One wouldn’t be available outside this – at retail stores.

So, how will the whole thing pan out. From what we know till now, this is the possible way forward:

1. Google has been sending invites to people for a “special android media event” to be held on January 5. We do know that it is all about the Nexus One.

2. As part of the media event, the attendees will be given free invites that they may pass along to those in their network who want to buy a Nexus One.

3. All those who have an invite to purchase a Nexus One can proceed to the Google Phone website (not yet live) to make their purchase.

4. As part of the purchase, users will be required to register themselves at the site.

5.  Once these users register themselves, they shall be given additional invites to send it to their network.

6. The Google Phone website shall also become the destination for all future software upgrades.

So as you see, the system shall pretty much work like it did when Gmail was first introduced or as it has now been working with Google Wave. And Google has all the while known to keep the demand high above the supply in order to make their product tantalizingly attractive.

Considering that Google Wave invites sold for close to $70 on eBay, expect a lot more Nexus One auctioning to happen early next year.

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

YouTube To Offer Interactive Gaming Videos?

In February of this year, Google had apparently filed a patent which has finally been published lately and if what we read into the patent is true, we can soon be seeing YouTube offering interactive gaming videos to its users.

If you are wondering what an interactive gaming video is, then read on. According to the patent, Google is planning on using the annotations (the tiny blocks of texts that the video uploaders use to comment on the video or direct you to another link) to create a gaming platform which can open up different locations depending on which annotation is click. Here is the patent description verbatim

A video may have associated with it one or more annotations, which modify the appearance and/or behavior of a video as it was originally submitted to an online video hosting site. Some examples of annotations are graphical text box annotations, which display text at certain locations and certain times of the video, and pause annotations, which halt playback of the video at a specified time within the video. Some annotations, e.g. a graphical annotation (such as a text box annotation) comprising a link to a particular portion of a target video, are associated with a time of the target video, which can be either the video with which the annotation is associated, or a separate video. Selecting such annotations causes playback of the target video to begin at the associated time. Such annotations can be used to construct interactive games using videos, such as a game in which clicking on different portions of a video leads to different outcomes.

This could be interesting. But the information so far looks incomplete. For an interactive gaming to happen from video based content, there needs to be a way for Youtube to open different videos from the same frame. Presently, clicking on an alternate video link from the annotations opens up a new window altogether. Instead, YouTube should let the new video link open from the same object frame opening the original video.

It is likely that Google is already working on that too. Nevertheless it is some fabulous news, and we will keep following on this one.

[via Slashdot]

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Google Nexus One Price Revealed

Ok, this is again a speculation, but call it a more studied one. Gizmodo has claimed access to pre-launch webpages at Google.com/phone which is claimed to be the sole store from where customers can purchase their Nexus One phones.

It is also learnt that the phone will be available unlocked and without subsidy. Alternately, you may also choose to gain some subsidy if you choose to go with a T-Mobile 2 year contract. So, here are the pricing details

Unsubsidized and Unlocked : $530
Subsidized with 2 year T-Mobile contract : $179.99

Optional accessories:
Car docking station : $49.99
Desktop docking station : $39.99

Right now, there is only one T-Mobile plan of $79.99 monthly that comes with the phone. Willing to take it? Let us know in the comments.

[via Gizmodo]

Dec 29, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

T-Mobile Getting Ready For Nexus One Launch

The launch is less than a week away from now. But weirdly enough, Google is still maintaining a studied silence over the launch. However, as we have been hearing from sources close to the product, the Nexus One is indeed coming on January 5 – at 9 AM to be precise.

Apparently, it is T-Mobile that will be handling the network for Nexus One. According to internal documents circulated at T-Mobile, the “Google Phone” shall be handled by their company. However, their role shall be restricted to “billing, coverage, features and rate plans, as we have previously stated. All troubleshooting and exchanges will be managed by Google and HTC. Launch is ‘early January.’”

This is interesting. Is T-Mobile an exclusive partner or are there more networks gearing up for the launch? Also, if the launch on Jan 5 is only to a limited circle, then is there really a necessity for the company to ready themselves up? We do not have the answers to these questions right now, and hopefully Google will come up with an answer sooner. Till then, revel in the suspense!

[via TmoNews]

Dec 29, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Will Google Chrome OS Be The Most Hacked Software Of 2010?

McAfee’s recent report on internet security for the future claims that Google Chrome OS which is yet to be officially released could become the target of hackers in the new year.

Why? Because, McAfee says, it is the reliance of the web operating system on the HTML 5 technology that lets the software interact online with the PC on and off in the background.

Google Chrome OS is designed to let users use web applications as easily as locally installed software. In order to enable this, the OS lets these applications periodically interact online while making everything available locally to the users.

Because of this interaction that happens in the background, McAfee claims hackers may use the exploit to inject their own malware into your system. Users might be caught unawares as they might expect it to be their operating system that is interacting online.

But the issues raised by McAfee seem far fetched considering that Google’s operating system is yet to be released and we are yet to check out on the security measures that Google has taken in this regard. For the record, in a blog posting earlier this year, Google had emphasized on the security measures being taken. The company had said they were

“completely redesigning the underlying security architecture…so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware, and security updates.”

Considering this, it looks like McAfee’s report has only raised false alarms. Nevertheless, the points raised are still potential exploits which we hope Google works on before the operating system is released.

[via Business Week]

Dec 29, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Did Google Fudge Taxes in UK?

Over the past one week, Google has been slammed by ministers in UK over fudging of their earnings in order to avoid taxes. According to their report, Google made over £1.6 billion in the past year from advertising in UK. However, the company has not paid any tax at all.

The reason, it is being said is because the company used its status as an international company to transfer holdings from one country to the other in a way to minimize taxes.

In this case, Google transferred its earnings from UK to Ireland. Tax levels for corporations in Ireland are between 10%-25% whereas in the UK, it is between 28%-30%.

While the company has not given any officially reply to the criticisms hailed at it, it will be interesting to see if the UK Government will plan any action in order to prevent a recurrence.

[via BNET]

Dec 29, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Will Google’s AdMob Acquisition Be Thwarted?

Two Consumer groups protesting Google’s recent move to acquire the mobile advertising company AdMob have said that this should not be allowed since it can potentially diminish competition.

According to a report published on BusinessWeek, the Consumer groups have said

“Without vigorous competition and strong privacy guarantees this vital and growing segment of the online economy will be stifled”

What do we make of this? Will the AdMob acquisition indeed be thwarted. From the current market conditions, it is pretty unlikely that FCC would heed to the claims by Consumer groups. Google and AdMob together constitute just over 40% of the mobile advertising market (according to an IDC analyst). In that condition, this does not really bother competition to a great extent.

As a matter of fact, the mobile advertising market is currently pretty much fragmented and we do need a bit of consolidation as this for the mobile advertising market to move to the next level.

We would like to hear your opinion on this? Do you see the Consumer groups claims hold truth? Please tell in the comments.

[via Business Week]

Dec 29, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Nexus One To Come With Desktop Dock Accessory?

Google Nexus One could be coming up with a few official accessories above the actual handset. Earlier, we had rumors about an official car kit in the works that will offer users the ability to charge their phones from inside the car as well as possible speaker phone functionalities.

Now, we are hearing that yet another accessory could be in the works. Documents submitted by HTC to FCC point out to the development of a Desktop Dock.

The Desktop Dock shall presumably make bluetooth wireless be available on the Nexus One. While the exact functionality of the accessory is not known, it could possibly help in synchronizing your desktop files with your handset and also offer other Bluetooth functionalities like hands-free speakerphone and remote control options.

Here is the image of the HTC application that SlashGear got hold of

What do you make of this? Tell us in the comments.

[via Slash Gear]