Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote shareholders about the potential downsides of AI in April, chief executive Sundar Pichai released “guiding principles” for the company’s AI projects in June. This came after employee protests succeeded in getting Google to drop a Pentagon contract to interpret drone footage. Now, Google has released a 30-page white paper that stresses the benefits of artificial intelligence, arguing that its downsides can be avoided without more regulation “in the vast majority of instances.” Continue reading Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Alphabet, dealing with pushback from regulators and struggles in its corporate culture, reported net profit that increased 37 percent to $9.19 billion in the quarter through September. Last year, during the same period, the company posted $6.7 billion. Although this growth exceeded analysts’ expectations, overall revenue is actually down, growing 21 percent to $33.74 billion versus last year’s 24 percent growth in the same period. Revenue from advertising, representing the majority of sales, grew 20 percent to $28.95 billion. Continue reading Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

India’s digital payment market is on fire, mainly due to new easy-to-use apps that also offer discounts and cash bonuses. The country’s banks, postal service and richest man (Mukesh Ambani) are investing in the arena, and even Warren Buffett, through Berkshire Hathaway, is reportedly taking a stake in the country’s leading digital payment company Paytm. Credit Suisse Group estimates that the Indian market will reach $1 trillion by 2023. China, meanwhile, already has a digital payments market valued at $5+ trillion. Continue reading Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

At its Cloud Next conference, Google revealed that its AutoML Vision, which allows non-experts to train their own self-learning models for image and object recognition, will soon be available in public beta. It also debuted AutoML Natural Language and AutoML Translation. To democratize such techy AI tools, Google relied on a simple graphical interface and such widely adopted interfaces as drag-and-drop. The company is also pitching its cloud services to corporations, having recently nabbed Target as a client. Continue reading Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google engineers are working on Fuchsia, a project to create software that would replace Android. The new software is designed from the ground up to offer improved voice interactions, frequent security updates and “look the same” across multiple devices from laptops to IoT sensors. The move is in line with chief executive Sundar Pichai’s stated goal of integrating artificial intelligence with consumer products. Google first started posting Fuchsia code in 2016, and allowed some app developers to try out open source code. Continue reading Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Sources say that Google has agreed to discuss the concerns of publishers at four of its global offices on the eve of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect May 25. Google has told publishers using its advertising tools that they will be responsible for obtaining user consent to gather personal information from European users. Google has not adopted an industry-wide framework that many publishers plan to use to gain user permission on behalf of their advertising technology partners. Continue reading Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

At the Google I/O developers conference, Google announced compelling updates including: Google Duplex brings new AI tech to Google Assistant; six new voices are coming to Google Assistant (including a version from John Legend); mobile operating system Android P gets an interface refresh, gesture controls, and expanded dashboard features; the new Android TV dongle supports 4K streaming and touts 8GB of storage; AI-powered Smart Compose comes to Gmail; Google Maps adds a new social layer and AR directions functionality by teaming AI with Street View; Google News curates online content via AI; and Google Lens is closer to delivering its text copy and style match features. Continue reading Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

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