#google

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.

Mat Honan:

Google’s native apps, on the other hand, were pretty great. I loved Glass for (very basic) rapid-fire email replies. The navigation stuff was aces. And the Google Now for your face is incredible — its ambient location awareness, combined with previous Google searches, means extremely relevant notifications come to your attention in a way they just can’t on a smartphone, unless you wear your smartphone on your face. If you want to know what Glass is really, really good at, it’s Google Now for your face. You are so going to love Google Now for your face.

Google Now on your phone is fantastic. Google Now even more accessible, whether that be on your wrist or yes, your face, seems like one of the few ways it could be even better.

Also interesting:

Glass kind of made me hate my phone — or any phone. It made me realize how much they have captured our attention. Phones separate us from our lives in all sorts of ways. Here we are together, looking at little screens, interacting (at best) with people who aren’t here. Looking at our hands instead of each other. Documenting instead of experiencing. Glass sold me on the concept of getting in and getting out. Glass helped me appreciate what a monster I have become, tethered to the thing in my pocket. I’m too absent. Can yet another device make me more present? Or is it just going to be another distraction? Another way to stare off and away from the things actually in front of us, out into the electronic ether? I honestly have no idea.

I thought Honan’s take on Glass was both fairly critical and also forward-thinking (with some actual context). And funny. Great piece.

Burkhard Bilger:

The Google car has now driven more than half a million miles without causing an accident—about twice as far as the average American driver goes before crashing. Of course, the computer has always had a human driver to take over in tight spots. Left to its own devices, Thrun says, it could go only about fifty thousand miles on freeways without a major mistake. Google calls this the dog-food stage: not quite fit for human consumption. “The risk is too high,” Thrun says. “You would never accept it.” The car has trouble in the rain, for instance, when its lasers bounce off shiny surfaces. (The first drops call forth a small icon of a cloud onscreen and a voice warning that auto-drive will soon disengage.) It can’t tell wet concrete from dry or fresh asphalt from firm. It can’t hear a traffic cop’s whistle or follow hand signals.

And yet, for each of its failings, the car has a corresponding strength. It never gets drowsy or distracted, never wonders who has the right-of-way. It knows every turn, tree, and streetlight ahead in precise, three-dimensional detail. Dolgov was riding through a wooded area one night when the car suddenly slowed to a crawl. “I was thinking, What the hell? It must be a bug,” he told me. “Then we noticed the deer walking along the shoulder.” The car, unlike its riders, could see in the dark. Within a year, Thrun added, it should be safe for a hundred thousand miles.

I’ll repeat: “The car, unlike its rider, could see in the dark.”

Quentin Hardy:

Google closed up 14 percent on Friday, at $1,011.41, after a better-than-expected earnings release late Thursday. The jump brought its gain since its initial offering to roughly 1,100 percent. During the same period, the shares of Amazon.com rose 830 percent. Samsung, which makes smartphones as well as the chips that go into many other manufacturers’ devices, rose 760 percent. And Apple leapt a staggering 3,300 percent. By comparison, the overall Nasdaq composite rose 120 percent, while Microsoft — 10 years ago the most feared giant in technology — gained just 28 percent.

While I largely think the stock market has a bit too many forces at play to serve as a good barometer, at a high level, this data seems pretty telling.

Eric Johnson:

Google’s mobile augmented-reality game Ingress, which has found a small but passionate audience on Android, is also coming to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, but not until next year.

Ingress product manager Brandon Badger confirmed the iOS plans in an interview yesterday with AllThingsD. The game launched into closed beta last November, and so far has racked up about one million activations, with hundreds of thousands of active players every month on Android phones.

We’ve been dancing around “augmented reality” gaming for a long time now. Ingress may just be the thing that makes it tip.