#google

Harry McCracken:

In the end, Gmail ended up running on three hundred old Pentium III computers nobody else at Google wanted. That was sufficient for the limited beta rollout the company planned, which involved giving accounts to a thousand outsiders, allowing them to invite a couple of friends apiece, and growing slowly from there.

As much as I rag on email, it’s hard to imagine a world without Gmail. Actually, it’s terrifying. We’d still be using email, but it would probably look like this.

Charles Cooper and Seth Rosenblatt:

Microsoft went through a blogger’s private Hotmail account in order to trace the identity of a source who allegedly leaked trade secrets.

Technically legal or not, this is absolutely insane. And awkward — here’s the copy from Microsoft’s "Scroogled" Gmail campaign:

Outlook.com is different—we don’t go through your email to sell ads.

Nope, we just go through it to get information we need to use in lawsuits. You literally cannot make this up.

And if users needed even more reasons to ditch Hotmail today — beyond the fact that it’s 2014 — Google has a nearly opposite announcement today:

Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 we made HTTPS the default. Today’s change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100 percent of them—is encrypted while moving internally. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail’s servers, but also as they move between Google’s data centers—something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.

Where’s Mark Penn when you need him?

A New Glue For A New Kingdom

To me, the most exciting part of the Facebook/WhatsApp deal has nothing to do with the deal itself. Instead, I’m excited about the ramifications of such a deal. And I’m not talking about Facebook or WhatsApp here either. History will ultimately prove that deal genius or folly. But more importantly, I know that a deal like this has other people talking, thinking, and building.

The last group is key, but let me start with the first group. Once the fervor around the deal itself died down, we got a couple of compelling posts from the likes of Benedict Evans and riffing on it, John Lilly. Incidentally, both are now VCs. But neither started out that way, and both have long histories of solid thinking and writing.

Both understand that the Facebook/WhatsApp deal is simply the strongest signal yet that we’ve fully entered a new age in the world of computing where mobile is now the kingdom. And the $19 billion price tag simply shows that there isn’t yet a king.

Read More

Brian Womack:

Google, which became the world’s largest online advertiser through its dominant search engine, had a higher market capitalization during intraday trading today before falling back at the close in New York to a value of $395.4 billion compared to Exxon’s $395.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple had a market value of $463.5 billion. Software company Microsoft Corp. is No. 4 with $303.5 billion.

Technology companies are establishing themselves as key players worldwide as they disrupt industries from retail to finance. Google, which went public in 2004 — 84 years after Exxon — has benefited from consumers moving to online services and content, a trend that’s being accelerated by the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.

I suspect we’ll see quite a few more tech companies ahead of Exxon in the coming years. Progress.

Google Operating System:

"If you use Google Now on your mobile device, you can see certain Now cards on your desktop computer if you’re signed into Chrome, including weather, sports scores, commute traffic, and event reminders cards. Some of these cards may be based on the location of your mobile device. Google Now on Chrome shows a subset of the Now cards you see on your mobile device, which uses your device’s location. You can edit your location settings (Location Reporting and Location History) on your Android or iOS device at any time," informs Google.

Want.

Nest CEO Tony Fadell on the news that Google has entered an agreement to acquire his startup:

When Matt and I started Nest in 2010, we were determined to change our homes and the world around us. Starting a business focused on the lowly thermostat seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it made all the sense in the world to us. That little device that went unnoticed and unchanged year after year on the walls of our homes was a lost opportunity to save energy and money. We knew we could do better.

Google will help us fully realize our vision of the conscious home and allow us to change the world faster than we ever could if we continued to go it alone. We’ve had great momentum, but this is a rocket ship.

As I previously mentioned, I’m incredibly biased here.1 But that doesn’t change the fact that Nest is a remarkable company that was able to take some Apple DNA and translate it into a startup. One working on both hardware and software, no less. It should be surprising to no one that Google saw massive value and opportunity here.

Huge congrats to team Nest as well as my colleagues at Google Ventures.


  1. Though, to be fair, I was a huge fan before I was conflicted. 

Ben Thompson:

Meanwhile, the new entrant may not have all of the required performance – like my Chromebook – but along with that missing performance comes additional simplicity. Paradoxically, the fact the new entrant has less-than-desired performance makes it even better from a user experience standpoint. And, when the performance gets close enough, that user experience advantage makes it an obvious choice over a higher end product that does more, in every sense of the word.

This is a flip-side that most people fail to look at. One man’s feature is another man’s bloat.

The recent rise of the Chromebook suggests it may have hit enough features without the bloat of a Windows machine. A weakness becomes a strength.

More on Microsoft’s Chromebook nightmare, Miguel Helft:

But a story close to home gave me reason to think that Chromebooks are the latest headache for Microsoft, which has struggled to gain traction in phones and tablets at a time when growth in the PC market has stalled. At the public elementary school that my two sons attend in Oakland, the parent teacher association, on whose board I serve, recently decided to purchase 36 Chromebooks for students in the fourth grade. A few weeks later, we received news that the school district would purchase an additional 70 or so Chromebooks — and would upgrade the Wi-Fi in the school so all the new machines could work simultaneously. This allows half of fourth and fifth graders to work on computers at any one time, if their teachers decide it’s appropriate.

What was striking was not so much that a school in an urban district would purchase 100 Chromebooks, but that there was never any discussion of purchasing Windows machines. When an alternative to the Chromebooks was discussed, the conversation was about Macs — of which there are several in the school library, media lab, and some classrooms — or iPads.

While only anecdotal, this sure sounds like the ultimately disaster scenario for Microsoft.

Gregg Keizer:

By NPD’s tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales.

Stephen Baker of NPD pointed out what others had said previously: Chromebooks have capitalized on Microsoft’s stumble with Windows 8. “Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” Baker said in a Monday statement.

Part of the attraction of Chromebooks is their low prices: The systems forgo high-resolution displays, rely on inexpensive graphics chipsets, include paltry amounts of RAM — often just 2GB — and get by with little local storage. And their operating system, Chrome OS, doesn’t cost computer makers a dime.

Even more remarkable: two Chromebooks, one by Samsung and one by Acer, are the two best-selling laptops on all of Amazon (and a second Acer model is #5).

It perhaps took a bit longer than originally anticipated, but The Microsoft Squeeze is now being fully applied.