Google Company Profile

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Company Profile

by Michael Gariffo

Docid: 00018905

Publication Date: 2110

Report Type: VENDOR


Web industry giant Google generates revenue primarily through the delivery of targeted online
advertising, a business built on its search dominance. Google is involved in
a host of other technology initiatives, including mobile computing
through its highly successful Android platform, as well as the creation of
several nascent telecommunications services including its Google Fiber and
Google Fi offerings. As a result of the company’s preeminent position in search,
its move into the Web browser market with Chrome, and its expanding scope in all
areas of technology, the company is increasingly coming under the scrutiny of
regulators in the US and Europe. This includes an ongoing suit filed by the US Department of Justice
filed over its alleged violation of US anti-trust laws,
with the government saying the company holds monopolistic control of search
services on the Internet.

Report Contents:

Fast Facts

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Name: Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View CA 94043
Phone: (650) 623-4000
Fax: (650) 618-1499
Type of Vendor: Internet Search Engine
Founded: 1998
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: GOOG


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Founded in 1998, Google runs the world’s most popular Internet search engine. For hundreds of millions of Web users, an online session starts at the Google
search box.1 The Google search engine accounts for over 92 percent
of all Web searches performed globally.2

Google – which provides its products and services in more than 100 languages
and more than 50 countries, regions, and territories – has leveraged its dominance in Web search to broaden its
portfolio, including forays into terrestrial broadband and wireless carrier
services. This expansion has been aggressive, but Google
maintains the same
basic strategy it followed from the start: To offer free search
tools and other commodity services with a broad appeal to a wide range of
users. It then translates its
large user base into revenue as it takes bids on ad placements within its
widely-used Web search results, while also charging for advertising space on its Web sites and assets, such as Gmail and
YouTube, as well as for retail and commercial services, such as its Google
Play, Chrome Web Store, and Google Books offerings. 

To attract users, the company focuses on making its products, such as Gmail,
Google Maps, and
Search more effective and intuitive. Google spurns pizzazz in favor of
a simple aesthetic. Its Web properties tend to look minimalistic and uncluttered, and
typically focus on placing functionality at the forefront of their design.

As the company expanded into new areas it has run into an increasing number
of critics, particularly those concerned about privacy and security. Many
expressed concern about how Google is handling the massive amount of information
is has been able to store,
index, and access.

Another effect of Google’s broadening portfolio is that the company has put
itself in the sights of more competitors. From Google’s entry into
the Web browser market with Chrome, to its globally dominant Android mobile
platform, the company has attracted the attention of industry power players like
Microsoft and Apple. Although Google has managed to give a fair
accounting of itself against all of these competitors thus far, even beating
them in many cases, they remain
powerful obstacles to the company’s continued success. 

In addition to expanding its services, Google has expanded its
geographic reach and supports numerous, often rarely seen languages for many of
its products and services. Google also provides
localized versions of its products in many developing countries.

On a worldwide basis, Google employs approximately 140,000 employees.


On August 10, 2015, Google Inc. announced plans to create a new public holding company, Alphabet Inc.,
and a new operating structure to increase management scale and focus on
its consolidated businesses. Under the new operating structure, its
main Google business now includes
Search, ads, Maps, apps, YouTube, and Android and the related technical
infrastructure. Businesses
such as Calico, Nest, and Fiber, as well as its investing arms such as
Google Ventures and Google Capital, and incubator projects such as
Google X, are managed separately from the main Google business.

connection with the new operating structure and upon completion of the
Alphabet merger, Larry Page became the Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) of Alphabet, while Sergey Brin was made the
President of Alphabet, Eric E. Schmidt took the role of Executive
Chairman of Alphabet, Ruth Porat is the Senior Vice President
and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Alphabet, and David C. Drummond was
named the Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Chief Legal
Officer and Secretary of Alphabet. Ms. Porat also retained her role as the CFO of Google.
Schmidt left the company in 2017, following a long stint with both Alphabet and
Google. Upon completion of the Alphabet
merger, Sundar Pichai was chosen as
the new CEO of Google Inc. Near the end of 2019, it was announced that his
role would shift to CEO of Alphabet, with both Sergey Brin and Larry Page
moving to advisory positions while remaining active in the company’s

The formation of Alphabet is widely viewed as a move to calm
investors who are concerned that Google is losing focus on its core
search business, investing in areas like drones, pharmaceuticals, and
venture capital. The new structure and their somewhat nebulous new
positions enable Page and Brin to pursue these "moonshot" businesses without disturbing Google’s
traditional – and profitable – product lines.

History & Milestone Events

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The company claims its name from the term “googol,” a mathematical
term for a “1” followed by 100 zeros. The following list provides a timeline of the
company’s history.

  • 1995 – Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin began work on developing a search
    engine at Stanford University.
  • 1996 – Page and Brin began working on the BackRub search engine, the precursor to the
    company’s Google search engine.
  • 1998 – Raised $1 million USD in funding and incorporated Google. Hired Craig Silverstein
    as the company’s first employee. Silverstein currently serves as Google’s director of technology.
  • 1999 – Moved into its current offices, known as the “Googleplex,” in Mountain
    View, CA. Signed Red Hat as the company’s first commercial customer. Received a round of funding,
    including $25 million from leading venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins
    Caufield & Buyers, which took positions on Google’s Board of Directors. Removed the beta label
    from its Google search engine. Signed contract to provide search technology to AOL/Netscape.
  • 2000 – Expanded its Google search engine index to cover one billion Web pages. Announced
    a partnership with Yahoo! and introduced its self-service ad program AdWords. Also introduced its
    Google Toolbar. Finally, the firm introduced 10 non-English versions of its search engine.
  • 2001 – Signed deals with mobile providers, including Cingular and AT&T Wireless, to
    bring the company’s search technology to mobile devices. Acquired and Outride. Company
    achieved profitability. Search index reached three billion searchable sites.
  • 2002 – Introduced its Google Search Appliance. Altered AdWords to include a
    cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model. Signed a contract to provide AOL with search and advertising
    for its members and other visitors to its properties. Launched Google News, a site to search news
    stories, and Froogle, a product search service.
  • 2003 – Acquired Pyra Labs. Launched the Google AdSense program, offering Web sites
    placement of highly targeted ads adjacent to their content. Launched version 2.0 of its Toolbar
    offering and Google Deskbar, allowing users to search via Google without launching a Web browser.
  • 2004 – Announced the launch of its online email service, Gmail. Saw Yahoo! drop the
    company as its search provider after Yahoo! purchased search companies Overture Services and
    Inktomi. Announced its IPO in August.
  • 2005 – Purchased Urchin Software and
  • 2006 – Acquired a five percent stake in AOL for $1 billion. Also purchased video-sharing
    Web site YouTube for $1.65 billion.
  • 2007 – Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. Google also
    purchased Postini,
    GrandCentral Communications, FeedBurner, Panoramio, PeakStream, Zenter, GreenBorder Technologies,
    Tonic Systems, Marratech, Adscape, and Endoxon.
  • 2008 – Announced the close of its acquisition of online ad delivery
    company, Double-Click, after the deal won approval from the European
    Commission. The company released its first-ever browser, Chrome ahead of
    schedule when the comic book that introduced the open source browser was leaked
    online. Google celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
  • 2011 – In April 2011, Larry Page, Google co-founder, reclaimed the position of CEO.
  • 2011 – In August 2011, Google announced its intentions to acquire
    Motorola Mobility, establishing Google as a cellphone/smartphone manufacturer.
  • 2012 – In May 2012, Google completed its acquisition of Motorola
  • 2014 – In January 2014, Google agreed to sell its Motorola Mobile
    business to Lenovo, completing the sale in November of that year.
  • 2015 – In April 2015, Google unveiled Google Fi, a Wi-Fi focused
    wireless carrier service that provides extremely inexpensive carriage for
  • 2016 – In August, Google acquired Orbitera, a company
    specializing in tools for managing cloud-based software marketplaces. The
    purchase price was estimated at approximately $100 million.
  • 2017 – In June, Google received a fine from the European
    Commission of EUR 2.4 billion, the largest ever handed down by the European
    commercial regulatory authority. The penalty was the result of a years-long
    investigation into Google’s practice of prioritizing its own shopping services
    above those of its competitors in its search results.
  • 2018 – Google is handed an even larger fine of
    approximately $5 billion by the European Commission over anti-competitive
    practices relating to licensing of bundled Google apps to mobile device
    manufacturers. This spurs a change to the company’s licensing policy in the
    European Economic Area. Later in the year, Google comes under fire from human
    rights and free speech advocates when it reveals that it is working on a
    censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market.

  • 2019

    – Google announces its entry into the video gaming market with
    the introduction of Google Stadia, a game streaming service that provides users
    with access to AAA titles over the Web by streaming console-quality games to
    something as simple as a Chromecast or smart TV.
  • 2020 – Google’s anti-trust pressure increased in
    July, when it – along with Apple, Amazon, and Facebook – were called before
    Congress to testify on their industry dominance and alleged anti-competitive
    Also in 2020, Google faced multiple fines in Europe over alleged monopolistic
    practices relating to search results and price comparison services.
  • 2021 Google’s anti-trust woes worsened
    over the year, as it was revealed in a Wall Street Journal article that the
    company had used data from past advertising bids to gain advantages over
    competing services when acquiring commercial contracts. Also during the year,
    the company ran afoul of Australian regulators when it balked at plans for paid
    content usage laws in the country, and proposed restrictions to its ad targeting


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Google’s main mission is to organize the world’s information and make it
universally accessible and useful. To that end, Google has become the
preeminent provider of Internet search services, with its core business – search advertising
– generally accounts for more than 90 percent of the company’s revenue in a
typical quarter.

A Calculated Risk-Taker

Google is not afraid to take calculated risks. In August 2011, in the first major move of the
then newly minted Larry Page-led era, Google
announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings, the cellphone
business that split off from Motorola, for $12.5 billion. When the deal
was completed in May 2012, Google also gained Motorola’s valuable patent portfolio.

Less than two years later, in January 2014, Google announced that it would
sell Motorola to the Chinese company Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Mitigating
the obvious financial loss, Google retained 15,000 of the 17,000 patents it
originally acquired from Motorola, a prize worth several billion dollars and
one that is likely to prove particularly useful in the ongoing defense of its
Android mobile operating system.3 That is not where the
benefits end, however. As The New York Times observes, the deal also "essentially turned Lenovo
into a factory for [Google’s] Android operating system."4

The sale also served to distance Google from the growing animosity some
believed was developing between Google and the its top Android device
manufacturers, due to the in-house competition represented by Motorola. As Tom Kang, an analyst at Counterpoint,
posits, the deal allows Google to remove itself from "unnecessary friction with the manufacturers."5

A "Principled" but
Risky Relationship with China.
 In 2006, Google reached an agreement
with the Chinese government that gave it access to the enormous Chinese market,
if the company purged its Chinese search results of banned topics. However, in
January 2010, Google announced that it would stop cooperating with China’s
Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country
altogether. It cited assaults from hackers on its computer systems and China’s
attempts to "limit free speech on the Web," as the reasons for its decision. In
March of that year, after difficult discussions with the Chinese government,
Google said it would move its mainland Chinese-language Web site and begin
rerouting search queries to its Hong Kong-based site. The stunning move
represented a powerful slap at Beijing regulators but also a risky ploy in which
Google will essentially turn its back on the world’s largest Internet market,
with nearly 400 million Web users and growing quickly.6

In June 2010, the Google-China standoff appeared to ease as Google gave the
Chinese government a link to uncensored search results rather than automatically
redirecting users. For its part, the Beijing government renewed Google’s license
to operate a Web site in mainland China.

A decade later, Google’s relationship with China is once again
under the microscope, as CEO Sundar Pichai revealed at a 2018 Wired Summit that
his company was working on a version of its search engine that excludes search
results that could be deemed controversial by the Chinese government’s Internet
censorship laws.7 This was seen by many as Google caving to a
repressive regime. Pichai, however, portrayed the move as a way for Google to
provide whatever improvements it could to the information available to Chinese
citizens, even if those efforts were somewhat limited by the aforementioned
governmental censorship. At a time when protests in Hong Kong over China’s human
rights violations and attempts to quash free speech remain ongoing, this issue
is likely to remain at the forefront for Google’s critics.

Expanding Its Wireless Mobile Presence. Google
has made
wireless communications a key part of its current and future strategy. The company
has long offered mobile
Web and mobile app versions of
services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Web search, and YouTube. In late 2007, Google introduced Android, the company’s open-source mobile phone
software platform. Android is made up of an operating system, middleware, an interface, and applications. The company launched its Android mobile phone software in conjunction with the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational
group focused on developing
applications on the Android platform. Programmers can access Android through
the non-restrictive Apache open source license, which enables handset manufacturers and wireless operators to
utilize the platform to create customized mobile devices and experiences. Android
also enables Google to optimize its own applications such Google Maps and Gmail
on Web-enabled devices such as smart phones. Over a decade later, this
highly successful excursion of Google’s was joined by its foray into the service
end of the wireless market with the launch of Google Fi. The offering is
currently still a niche service provider, with a limited number of supported
devices and a relatively small user base.
However, its bargain basement pricing and synthesis of multiple existing carrier
networks with a heavy reliance on Wi-Fi has the potential to disrupt a large
portion of the established wireless carrier market as a whole, should Google
ever shift additional assets into expanding the business.

Promoting Android App Development. Google offers tools designed to make it easy for people to write
applications for its Android operating system. “The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of
opening up its technology to all kinds of developers will eventually give it the
upper hand in the smart phone software market. Its leading rival, Apple,
takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone,
controlling the software and vetting the programs available.”8 Although
this strategy has its detractors, with those often focusing on security
concerns, Google’s success in expanding the app marketplace is undeniable, with
it’s Google Play storefront currently sitting at nearly 3 million apps
with over 100 billion recorded downloads.9 Although this
places it ahead of the older iOS App Store in both available apps and download
volume, the digital storefront still generally lags behind Apple’s in revenue production
for developers.10

Adopting a "Mobile First" Philosophy. Google has embraced a
"Mobile First" development philosophy, meaning it will build products for phones
at the same time as versions for PCs. While the company’s execution of
this strategy has been less than timely, one area it views as essential is mobile
search. According to Scott B. Huffman, who works on mobile search at
Google and leads its search evaluation team, "Mobile search is definitely going
to surpass desktop search. The lines will pass, and I think they’ll pass
before anyone thought they would."11 By many accounts, this has
already occurred in many countries around the world.

the Quality of Search Results.
 In a tacit admission that Web
publishers attempt to flooding its search engine with low-quality pages, Google has
revised its methods to improve the usefulness of its results. Google
designs the changes to raise the rankings of high-quality Web sites and reduce those
of lesser sites. At times this has affected as much as 12 percent of all search queries. Persuading users
that it has the best results is crucial for Google, whose reputation and status
as the front door to the Web depend on them.12

Replacing Conventional PCs. Google
has introduced a type of portable computer called a Chromebook, which replaces a
traditional operating system and locally installed applications with cloud-based
storage and Web apps. According to analyst Claire Cain Miller, the
company’s goal was to "eliminate the need for software
updates and hard drive backups" and to eventually "replace PCs running Microsoft’s Windows software in offices and homes around
the world." As Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and director of
special projects, explains, "Whether it be Microsoft or other OS vendors, I
think the complexity of managing your computers is really torturing users
out there. That’s a flawed model fundamentally. And I think Chromebooks
are a new model that doesn’t put the burden of managing your computer on
yourself." Adds Ms. Cain, "Google’s strategy is to go after businesses and schools first. If students get used to a Web-based operating system, they might request it
in their offices later on, and if people use it at work, they might decide
to buy one for their homes."13 Chromebooks have since become
a major competitor in the consumer-level laptop market, as well as a strong
player in education-focused device deployments, particularly with the increased
need for at-home learning terminals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Replacing Video Game Consoles. In many ways, Google Stadia
is attempting to do for video game consoles what Chromebooks did for laptops; it
is replacing a powerful, consumer owned machine with a more lightweight hardware
device that offloads much of its functionality to a cloud-based service. In this
case, that service allows users to play AAA titles from major video game studios
on something as simple as a Chromecast or smart TV, or even on their PC, without
the need for any of the processing power that devices like the Xbox and
Playstation line require. Although Stadia has had something of a rocky start,
with complaints about game selections and stream stability, the concept is
promising enough that competing products have since launched from other major
players, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Sony.

Winning Over Europeans. If there’s an enemy capable of toppling
Google, it’s not Microsoft; it’s probably a bureaucrat in Brussels. Google has launched a public relations campaign in Europe designed to convince
the European people – and European regulators – that Google is a well-meaning
member of the European community, not a voracious predator from abroad that
tramples personal privacy, a major issue on the continent.14 Despite
its best efforts, however, Google remains the frequent target of probes from
regulators across Europe, particularly for alleged anti-competitive practices
being leveraged in its search and mobile operating businesses, as its recent EUR
2.4 billion and EUR 4.5 billion fines from the European Commission illustrates.

Google Pay. Google’s wants users to turn to one of its
first-party applications to replace the credit cards they
carry every day. Originally launched as Google Wallet and since renamed Android
Pay and then Google Pay, the app was one of the first attempts at providing a
smartphone-based payment platform, before the market became crowded with
competing products like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. As analyst David Pogue
explains, Google Pay
was one of the originators of the idea: "No fishing plastic cards out of wallets, no
paper slips, no signatures. Everything is handled securely, instantly,
conveniently, with one tap of your phone at the register."15

Mapping the World. Google has
literally undertaken the task of mapping the world, not just to enhance the Google Maps utility, but to
advance a concept called "location-awareness." As The New York Times
reported on the rise of the technology, "location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is – and that awareness will imbue the real
world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you
that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that
they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on
an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools."16

Public Cloud for Enterprises. Google is in an
ongoing battle with major cloud infrastructure providers like IBM and Amazon
for the ownership of corporate customers – a contest which The New York Times
predicts will "last years and cost the competitors
billions of dollars annually in material and talent."17


Smart Acquisitions. Google successfully acquires companies that
expand its capabilities and increase its appeal to advertisers. In 2006,
Google acquired YouTube for a reported $1.65 billion USD. Less than three
years later, YouTube was already being referred to as the
largest and most popular online, user-made video repository and service, with very little
real competition around to threaten its position more than one decade
later. Similarly, Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick
in 2008 provided an established base of display advertisers and publishers,
while introducing the ability for Google’s advertisers and publishers
provide users with targeted display advertisements, a facet of its as network
which a huge portion of the business world has come to rely
on. More recently, the company purchased home automation and
security company Nest. It remains in the process of integrating Nest
assets into its Google Home line of products, renaming several
products to add Nest branding.

Search Technology and Capabilities. Google launched
with a Web index of approximately 30 million pages. Its index has grown to
billions of pages and it continuously refines its relevance algorithms to
provide users with accurate and objective search results. Google has
become the preferred search engine because it is streamlined, easy to use, and
clearly marks its sponsored links and separates them from natural results.
Google search results are nearly instantaneous; according to Google,
the life span of
a user query is typically less than half a second. 

Android. Although Android’s launch was slow – largely due to it being
limited to a single device on the fourth most popular carrier in the US at the
time – the
mobile operating system has gone on to surpass former power houses Microsoft and BlackBerry (formerly
known as RIM), as well as current competitor Apple as the
top smartphone platform in the US, and many other parts of the world. BlackBerry
have had the business customers in hand, and Apple may be largely responsible
for making the smartphone what it is today, but Google’s Android has surpassed
both in the public’s eye by simply offering choices. A big part of this success
was derived from the fact that Android, an open-source operating system, can be
installed on a device from any manufacturer and made to work on any carrier’s
network. This fact has led to numerous Android options being a ubiquitous
presence on every major carrier in the US, and even on most regional carriers.
Although there are some lingering claims of a lack of stability or need for
improved security
found in Android, these claims have done little to counteract the benefit
of having a variety of price points, device models, and carrier options when it
comes to retails sales.


The Internet. While it may seem obvious, Google lives (in fact,
feasts) on the Internet. While most traditional brick-and-mortar
businesses can at least survive without the World Wide Web, Google cannot. The Web is vulnerable to:

  • Government officials who can choose to filter Internet content (for
    political or other reasons).
  • Hackers and other miscreants who can disrupt Internet traffic (often for
    their own amusement).
  • Terrorists who can launch an attack against critical Internet

Although the Internet is a powerful instrument for commercial success, it is
also relatively vulnerable to regulators and criminals alike. For enterprises like Google,
eBay, Microsoft, and
others, a robust and reliable Internet is not only important, it is

Google Books & The Law. Google’s has created a giant
online library and bookstore by digitizing millions of print volumes, angering
many authors, publishers, and catching the attention of the US Justice Department. Critics of the company’s approach to copyright law, even voice
concern that Google would gain access to
millions of orphaned works, i.e., books whose right holders are unknown or
cannot be found.18

In October 2012, after seven years of litigation, Google and book publishers
reached a settlement to allow publishers to choose whether Google digitizes
their books and journals.19

In November 2013, Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court
of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed, after countless
delays, a lawsuit that authors had filed against Google. "It
[Google Books] advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while
maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of
authors and other creative individuals, and without
adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders," Judge
Chin wrote in his ruling. "Indeed, all society benefits."20

While scoring what is probably a final victory in the book war, hard feelings
remain between Google and some member of the creative community.

Persistent Antitrust Battles. Google suffered two financial
blows in quick succession: one in 2017 when it was fined EUR 2.4 billion by the European Commission over
its practice of placing its own products at the top of search results, and one
in 2018 when the EC handed down a EUR 4.5 billion fine over anti-competitive
practices relating to Google’s bundling of first-party app licenses with Android.21
The European regulatory agency found the company’s policies in both cases to be anti-competitive, and
handed down the two largest fines in its history. Although the size of the
punishments may have put many companies out of business, it was barely enough to
be punitive to Google.

These hefty fines followed numerous near misses for Google, including unwanted
attention from the Federal Trade Commission and its counterpart in Russia.
Unfortunately for Google, its sheer size almost guarantees that it will remain
the constant target of anti-trust probes and investigatory efforts by regulatory
bodies around the world.

In 2020, Google once again found itself under intense scrutiny, along with
fellow tech giants like Amazon and Facebook. In October, the US Department of
filed suit against the company over its alleged violation of US anti-trust laws.
The federal case focuses on two main areas: Google’s supposedly monopolistic
control of search services on the Internet, and its handling of pre-loaded
applications and services on its Android mobile operating system.
Google has called the case a "deeply flawed lawsuit that would do nothing to help consumers." It is
likely the case will be contested in court for many months, if not years, before
any final outcome is determined.

2021 would see Google’s conflicts also expand to
Australia, with that country taking issue with Google’s ad
business, and the policy of major Internet companies in general making money
from content that they had not paid for. It remains to be seen how this will
impact Google’s operations in the nation.

Facebook. While the rapid ascent of Facebook has become far
more rocky in recent years and the company deals with its own public relations
issues, it remains a worrisome thorn in the side of Google, which sees the social
networking giant as a threat on multiple fronts. Much of the activity on Facebook is invisible to Google’s search engine, which
impacts the usefulness of Google’s search capabilities. What’s more, the billions of links posted by users on Facebook have
turned the social network into an important driver of users to sites across the
Web. That has traditionally been Google’s role.22 The company
attempted to combat this with its launch of Google+, a very similar social
network. Unfortunately for Google, that project turned into a long-term failure,
and has since been shuttered for good. Earlier attempts at social networking products such as
Google Wave and Google Buzz both suffered early setbacks and never received any
widespread adoption. Despite its business savvy in other areas, Google has yet
to be able to break into the social networking market with any kind of real

Android Security. Android’s more open approach to platform and
app development, compared to Apple’s iOS, leaves its more usable to a wider
variety of clientele, but also more vulnerable to the malicious factors
attempting to exploit its flexibility to harm others for their own gain. While
iOS and Windows Phone share similar threats, none seem to be so
heavily targeted as Android.
"The mobile threat continues to grow at a very rapid pace with
threats only increasing in complexity," says Dan Hoffman, mobile
security researcher at networking technology firm Juniper
Networks.23 Although third-party solutions like
Samsung Knox and other offerings can make Android as secure as, or more secure
than, iOS, the mobile OS continues to be unable to shed a general reputation of
being less secure than its counterpart.

Privacy. Google has a track record for ignoring
personal privacy. In the well-known sanction, in November 2013,
Google agreed to pay $17 million to 37 states and the District of
Columbia in a wide-reaching settlement over tracking consumers online without their knowledge.24
Although it has been several years since a blunder on this
scale, the company has yet to shake its reputation as a voracious
consumer of user information with less-than-honorable plans for it.


Finances. Google’s holding company, Alphabet, reported consolidated revenues of $61.9 billion for
the second quarter of 2021, an impressive increase of over 62
percent when compared with the year-ago quarter.

Management. In April 2011, Google co-founder Larry Page
said, "One of the primary goals I have is to get Google to be a big company that
has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up." This took
place shortly after Page’s 2011 re-instatement as the company’s CEO, and at the
beginning of an era of renewed focus on correcting what many considered to be a
stagnant period in the company’s history.

The New York Times put it this way: "The
unspoken fear within Google is that it could become like Microsoft, a
once-dominant technology company that seems past its prime and [is] perceived as
stodgier, despite successes like XBox and Kinect. Indeed, for all its financial
success, Google … is no longer considered by many top engineers as the most
desirable place to work in the Valley; a new generation of start-ups has taken
that place."25

Since then, the reins of Alphabet Inc have been turned over to Sundar Pichai
as its CEO. However, Brin and Page remain strong behind-the-scenes forces at the
company they founded.

Surveillance Backlash. Somewhat ironically, Google, along
with Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have called on
the federal government to curtail their surveillance activities, contending that
the feds are creating an atmosphere of mistrust that affects consumers’
willingness to go online. Larry Page criticized governments for the "apparent wholesale collection of
data, in secret and without independent oversight." He added, "It’s time
for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way."26

Since even encrypted data are at risk, Google fears that consumers may curb
their Web activity and thereby cut Google profits.

Lower-Margin Mobile Ads. Google’s ad-based revenue model is
facing some "challenges" according to The New York Times. "As [Google’s]
desktop search and advertising businesses mature, … its growth rate is slowing
and the amount of money it makes from each ad it sells is falling. The problem is that mobile ads cost half to two-thirds as much as
desktop ads, yet they lead to purchases just a quarter to a third of
the frequency that desktop ads do. That’s because advertisers have
not yet figured out the best format for mobile ads, tracking the
effectiveness of such ads is harder, and buying things on small
screens is more cumbersome for consumers."27

The Big Four. The long-term future of Google
will likely depend on its ability to compete with Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. At the present time:

  • Google and Apple
    are vying for leadership in smartphone and tablet operating
  • Google, Apple, and
    Amazon are attempting to dominate the mobile hardware market.
  • Google is striving to stave off Facebook’s data collection and
    advertising efforts.
  • Google has occasionally had designs on e-commerce, currently
    Amazon’s stronghold.28

Google can be expected to:

  • Exploit its
    advantage in data collection – no company controls as much data as Google.
  • Create innovative
    solutions to the problems of "big data" – a subject about which Google has
    considerable expertise.
  • Continue its leadership in cloud computing,
    especially through Google Apps.
  • Skirt the line between maximizing its data collection and bringing too
    much regulatory scrutiny on itself, with suits against it already mounting.

Product Lines

[return to top of this report]


Google Search. The goal
of Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords), Google’s primary auction-based advertising program, is to deliver
ads that are so useful and relevant to search queries or web content that they
are a form of information in their own right. With Google Ads, advertisers create
simple text-based ads that then appear beside related search results or web
content on Google websites and on thousands of partner websites in the Google
Network, which is the network of third parties that use Google’s advertising
programs to deliver relevant ads with their search results and content.

Google Display.
Display advertising comprises the videos, text, images, and other interactive
ads that run across the web on computers and mobile devices, including smart
phones and handheld computers such as netbooks and tablets. The Google Display
Network provides advertisers services related to the delivery of display
advertising across publishers participating in Google’s AdSense program,
publishers participating in the Google Marketing Platform Ad Exchange, and Google-owned sites
such as YouTube and Google Finance.

Google Mobile. Google
is focused on developing easy-to-use ad products to help advertisers extend
their reach, help create revenue opportunities for Google’s publisher partners, and
deliver relevant and useful ads to users on the go.

Google Local. Google is
committed to providing users with relevant local information. Google has
organized information around nearly 100 million places globally from various
sources across the web. Users can find addresses, phone numbers, hours of
operation, directions and more for millions of local queries like shops,
restaurants, parks and landmarks right on, on Google Maps and on
Google Maps for mobile.

Operating Systems and Platforms

Android. Working closely with the Open Handset Alliance, a business alliance of more than
75 technology and mobile companies, Google developed Android, a free, fully open
source mobile software platform that any developer can use to create
applications for mobile devices and any handset manufacturer can install on a

Google Chrome OS and Google Chrome.
Google Chrome OS is an open source operating system with the Google Chrome web browser
as its foundation. Both the Google Chrome OS and the Google Chrome browser are
built around the core tenets of speed, simplicity, and security. Designed for
people who spend most of their time on the web, the Google Chrome OS is a new
approach to operating systems.

Google Play.
Google Play is an entirely cloud-based, digital entertainment destination with
more than 3 million apps and games, as well as music, movies and books that Google
users can find, enjoy and share on the web and on their Android phone or tablet.

Google Drive
Google Drive is a place where users can create, share, collaborate, and keep all
of their stuff. Google Docs is built right into Google Drive so users can work
with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations and users’
files go everywhere they do. When users change a file on the web, on their
computer, or on their mobile device, the file updates on every device where
users have installed Google Drive.

Google Pay.
Google Pay is a virtual wallet that securely stores your credit and debit
cards, offers, and rewards cards. Users can tap their phone to pay in-store
using Google Wallet anywhere contactless payments are accepted – at over 300,000
merchants across the US. Users can also pay online by signing into their Google
Pay account.

Google Stadia.

Google Stadia is a video game streaming service that is capable of allowing
users to play AAA titles on something as simple and inexpensive as a Chromecast
or smart TV by offloading all of the heavy lifting done by graphics processing
units to a cloud-based server. It offers both subscription-based and
pay-per-title pricing options.

Telecom Services

Google Fiber is currently offered in a limited number of markets,
primarily located in the Midwestern US, with some outlier locations in places
like Provo, Utah. The service offers 1Gbps (gigabit per second) symmetrical
broadband to residential and small business customers. Google also offers bundle
packages which include its ISP offering alongside paid TV services and
VoIP-based home phone service. 

Google Fi is a wireless carrier service which runs on the combined
networks of T-Mobile and Sprint. This MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)
also provides Wi-Fi based calling and messaging, creating a singular network
capable of providing coverage in many areas where even the strongest competitors


Google’s enterprise products provide
familiar, easy-to-use Google technology for business settings. Through Google
Apps, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Sites,
among other features, Google provides hosted, web-based applications that people
can use on any device with a browser and an internet connection. In addition,
Google provides its search technology for use within enterprises through the
Google Search Appliance (real-time search of business applications, intranet
applications, and public websites), on their public-facing sites with Google
Site Search (custom search engine), and Google Commerce Search (for online
retail enterprises). Google also provides versions of the Google Maps Application
Programming Interface (API) for businesses (including fully interactive Google
Maps for public and internal websites), as well as Google Earth Enterprise (a
behind-the-company-firewall software solution for imagery and data
visualization). Google’s enterprise solutions have been adopted by a variety of
businesses, governments, schools, and non-profit organizations. Google Apps is
the first cloud computing suite of message and collaboration tools to receive US
government security certification.

Major Competitors


[return to top of this report]

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures

Google has officially completed its acquisition of fitness
tracking company FitBit. The long-simmering purchase had run into
several regulatory hurdles, which Google has obviously managed to
overcome. While the deal is expected to positively impact
Google’s place in the wearables marketplace, a letter posted by FitBit CEO James Park promises that the
company’s devices will remain platform agnostic, continuing to
support the Apple ecosystem as well as Google’s own Android. The
same letter also addressed continued privacy commitments and
the ongoing separation of FitBit user data from Google’s larger
pool of user information. This particular commitment was
seemingly added to allay fears that FitBit data would be used to
serve users with ads and promotional offers. The transaction was
valued at approximately $2.1 billion.


Products and Services

Google has published an update to its Google Pay app
that adds support for adding COVID-19 test and vaccination
documentation to its Passes section. The new feature will allow
users to carry digital versions of their vaccination cards, as
well as test results on their Android smartphones. This includes
a new API that will allow healthcare organizations, government
agencies, and organizations authorized by public health
authorities to distribute these digital documents. The new
feature is available to any device running Android 5 or later.


Google has outlined
new security standards for its Nest smart home devices and made
a privacy commitment, strengthening its stand on user data. The
new Nest security commitments include standards that Google has
long held in addition to updates specific to its connected home
devices and services. Among the steps being taken as outlined in
a blog post, Nest devices introduced in 2019 and
later will be validated using third-party, industry-recognized
security standards like those developed by the Internet of Secure
Things Alliance (ioXt).
New products will be assessed against the standards to make sure
they are meeting or exceeding them before launch and results of
all tests will be published. The company also said that Nest will
now be part of the Google vulnerability reward program, providing
monetary compensation for researchers to report security issues.


A report from The
says that Apple is now the largest
corporate client for Google
Cloud, expanding its data presence to more than eight exabytes.
One exabyte is equivalent to 1000 bytes raised to the sixth power
or, as AppleInsider notes, “enough to record a video call that’s more than 237,000
years long.” According to The Information’s sources, Apple is
expected to pay $300 million to Google for cloud storage in 2021
alone. This amounts to a 50 percent jump year-over-year. The
report speculates that Apple’s increased use of Google Cloud
suggests the company’s rising cloud storage requirements have
outpaced its ability to develop and operate its own data centers
to handle its needs. The Information says that Google Cloud’s
next largest customers after Apple are TikTok parent ByteDance
and Spotify.


Google announced the
first product of its collaboration with Indian telecom carrier
Jio, the JioPhone Next, a low-cost Android device designed
specifically for citizens of the carrier’s home country. The new
unit is part of a commitment Google made to produce affordable
devices when it purchased a 7.7 percent stake in the mobile
services provider last year. Features of the handset include
on-screen and in-camera translation tools, access to the Google
Assistant, support for the Jio Saavn streaming music service, the
My Jio payments app, and more. The device’s hardware also
supports low-light photography and comes with built-in Snapchat
filters, thanks to Jio’s collaboration with another partial
owner, Facebook. The JioPhone Next is scheduled for launch on
September 10 in India, with plans to roll it out to other
countries at a later date.


Google revealed that it
will delay its planned rollout of a third-party cookie
replacement for the Chrome browser to sometime in mid-2023. The
feature, which was originally slated for launch next year, was
designed to provide group-based ad targeting while increasing
individual user privacy. Google hoped to match similar changes
that had been enacted by fellow Web browser makers, including
Mozilla, Microsoft, and Apple. However, the search giant now
claims that it “needs more time across the ecosystem to get this
right.” While the full changeover is not expected until 2023,
Google noted that it plans to begin testing certain API
components in 2022 for a planned nine-month trial period.


Samsung revealed
that it will virtually debut the new Wear OS experience during its
Mobile World Congress event next week. The press event, which is
scheduled for 1:15PM ET on June 28, will play home to the first
public look at the new collaboration between Samsung and Google. The updated wearable
operating system has been touted as combining the best aspects
of Google’s Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen smartwatch operating
system. Google already teased the update during its recent I/O
conference, but remained very vague on exactly what would be
changing within this new joint effort. The press briefing may or
may not also include new device reveals, the most likely of which
is an updated Galaxy Watch that runs the revamped WearOS out
of the box. Hopefully, for current Tizen device owners, Samsung
will also answer the oft-asked question of whether or not any of
its existing wearables will be updated to the new OS.


Google is reportedly preparing a new Spot feature for “Find My Device”
that leverages Bluetooth to locate other devices. According to 9to5Google, the news was
uncovered as part of the new beta version of Play, which
supposedly includes APK (Android Package) data with lines of
code hinting at this function. Traditionally, Find My Device
requires Wi-Fi or cellular data network connectivity. Spot,
however, is believed to be connected to the Eddystone protocol
for “proximity beacon messages,” as developed in the mid-2010s.
The outlet noted that, despite its appearance, “Google may or may
not ever ship these features.”


After Google published
a list of updates coming to Android this summer, the company also
quietly revealed that this
same update will also flip the switch on end-to-end encryption
within its Google Messages app. This security feature will
initially only be supported during one-on-one conversations
between two users of the app, assuming both users’ devices and
carriers support RCS (Rich Chat Services). The feature has been
in beta since November 2020, and offers a way for users to
protect their messages against man-in-the-middle attacks and
other intrusions. Users can tell if their messages will be
encrypted by checking the send button. If a padlock icon is
there, the message will transmit in an encrypted format.
Otherwise, it will be sent as a standard SMS. Google has said
that it plans to expand the functionality to group messages
sometime in the future.


Google announced a slate of 6 new features coming to Android this summer.
While some of these have been teased by the search giant before,
several are completely new. First up is the expansion of the
company’s earthquake detection technology to new countries:
Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These new locales join other recent
additions New Zealand and Greece. Next, Google is adding the
ability to star incoming text messages, allowing them to be
retrieved more easily later on. Also coming to Android messaging
are new contextual suggestions for emojis, allowing the company’s
Gboard on-screen keyboard to suggest emoji based on what’s
being said in a conversation. The two final features designed for
smartphones are expanded voice control options, allowing Google
Assistant to perform actions within compatible apps and a “gaze
detection” feature, which can allow the Google assistant to tell
if the user is actually looking at their smartphone when a
request is detected, potentially eliminating accidental
activations. Lastly, Google is also updating Android Auto with a
new collection of personalization options and navigation
features, including additions designed to aid in EV charging and
parking. All of these features are coming to all eligible devices
running Android 6.0 or later, and to compatible cars, in the case
of the last item.


Google revealed plans
to create its sixth private subsea cable. The new conduit will
connect the US with various points in South America and will be
called Firmina, named for Brazilian
abolitionist Maria Firmina dos Reis. It will include 12 fiber
pairs with built-in resiliency measures and will be, according to
Google, be the longest cable in the world capable of being
powered exclusively from one end. The goal of the new connection
will be to provide users near its termination points with “fast,
low-latency access to Google products such as Search, Gmail and
YouTube, as well as Google Cloud services.” Termination points
for the cable are expected to include the mid-Atlantic US and Las
Toninas, Argentina, with branches extending to Praia Grande,
Brazil, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Firmina is expected to go
online sometime in 2023.


Google debuted its
latest round of updates to the Pixel smartphone line with its June Feature Drop. This time around,
the search giant is adding enhanced astrophotography features for
capturing images of starfields, a slate of new LGBTQ+ ringtones
and wallpapers to celebrate Pride Month, and the ability to
create locked folders within Google Photos to store private
images. More minor updates include the expansion of the Pixel
line’s ability to detect car crashes to new countries, and the
option to answer or reject calls by saying “Hey Google, answer
call” or “Hey Google, reject call.” All of the aforementioned
updates will be available to owners of the Pixel 4 or newer,
while a smaller subset will also be added to the Pixel 3
generation. The update is rolling out to all eligible devices


Google is reportedly planning to begin making it harder for
third-party app developers to track users’ behavior, according to
Financial Times. The news site
pointed to a Google support post which reveals that the
company will introduce new protections for customers opting out
of having their unique Advertising ID tracked. These
individualized identifiers allow companies to track a single user
across multiple apps. The protections will soon cause the apps
attempting to track the user to see a useless string of zeros,
rather than the correct Advertising ID. Google intends for the
changes to begin rolling out later this year with the
introduction of Android 12, with a plan to reach all Google
Play-equipped Android devices by some time in early 2022. While
Google has been known to be working on a feature like this for
some time, this move, it should be noted, comes shortly after
Apple’s high-profile decision to introduce a similar opt-out
option for users, which put it in direct conflict with Facebook
and others that rely on those tracking options to drive revenue.


announced that subscribers to select smartphone
plans will now receive six to 12 free months of either Apple
Arcade or Google Play Pass. The services in question are for
iPhones and Android devices, respectively, and provide access to
a slate of premium mobile games and apps at no additional cost.
Verizon customers on any unlimited plan will receive six months
of free access to the service of their choice, while subscribers
on either the “Play More” or “Get More” plans will receive 12
months of access. Both new and existing customers on qualifying
plans will be able to qualify for the deal. Additional details
and terms can be found within Verizon’s press release.


In addition to unveiling the first official Android 12 beta
and announcing a collaboration with Samsung to move the
WearOS platform forward, Google also made a slew of
slightly less major announcements at this year’s I/O event. Among
them were its new Smart Canvas collaboration tools for work from
home setups; its new LaMDA natural language platform that it
hopes to leverage to improve the conversational abilities of its
Translate and Assistant products; New password management
tools for Google Chrome, better integration between smart home
and Android-powered devices, and a new AI app that is capable of
diagnosing common skin ailments. The company did not, however,
reveal its oft-leaked Pixel 6 smartphone just yet.


Google is collaborating
with Samsung to update
its wearables operating system Wear OS. The goal of the new
alliance is to bring “the best of Wear and Tizen into a single,
unified platform.” Samsung has used its own Tizen platform to
power its Galaxy-branded smartwatches for several years, while
Google has remained reliant on its Wear OS (which it appears to
now be branding as simply Wear). The results of this
collaboration is apparently a 30 percent increase in performance
on existing smartwatch chips, resulting in smoother interface
interactions, longer battery life, and optimizations that make it
possible to do things like run a heart-rate sensor throughout the
day without draining the device’s battery. Other planned updates
include a new app switcher, home screen customizations, and a
selection of new apps. This last item includes a redesigned
version of Google Assistant and Google Maps, as well as a new
YouTube Music app and new fitness options powered by Google’s
FitBit acquisition. The company remained vague on any timeline
for when these new features might be available to consumers,
saying only that the updates will be “rolling out later this
year,” without any details on which devices might receive the


Among the many announcements revealed by Google at its 2021 I/O
Conference was the debut of its first Android 12 beta release.
The software, which is available to download and install on
eligible devices now, revolves around Google’s new “Material You”
design language for its visual overhaul, as well as a slate of
under-the-hood and functional changes. The first part of the
update includes a visual revamp of nearly every aspect of the OS
interface, with a heavy shift towards added customizability. This
ranges from additional options for the user’s notification shade
and volume controls to new system transition animations and quick
settings menu components. Despite the changes being designed to
be more visually appealing, Google claims it also managed to make
the platform more efficient, improving both speed and CPU usage,
when compared to Android 11. Security and privacy advocates will
likely approve of several new features as well, including a list
of all data being accessed by third-party apps, a dashboard where
users can revoke app permissions, and indicator icons for when
the device’s microphone and camera are being used. Google has
promised to reveal additional details in subsequent updates for
Android 12 over the remainder of 2021. In the meantime, users
with eligible smartphones from Asus, Google, OnePlus, Oppo,
Realme, Sharp, Tecno, TCL, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE can download the beta from the Android developers’ Web site.


Google has introduced
a new feature for its Chrome on Android browser that lets users
change compromised passwords with a single tap. A company blog post says, “On supported sites, whenever you
check your passwords and Chrome finds a password that may have
been compromised, you will see a `Change password’ button from
Assistant. When you tap the button, Chrome will not only navigate
to the site, but also go through the entire process of changing
your password.” The system will also allow the option for the
user to go through the process manually. The feature is rolling
out on supported sites gradually in the US for Chrome on Android
users who sync their passwords. Google says it will become
available on more sites and in more countries in the coming


A new
YouTube video
claims to show a leaked demo of Google‘s upcoming Android 12
update, just ahead of the software’s likely reveal at May 18’s
Google I/O conference. Among the changes shown off in the clip
are a revamp of the platform’s notification interface, with cards
being grouped based on what app they originated from; a new
lock-screen feature that unifies everything the user missed while
the device was idle; a slate of new weather and clock widgets;
and a visual overhaul. The new look appears to focus on more
rounded corners, redesigned transitions and visual effects, and a
new design aesthetic that skews away from the simplistic icons
and components seen in the last several generations. It should
become clear whether or not this leak is legitimate when Google
shows off its Android 12 update at its I/O conference.


Samsung revealed
that it will not be attending the in-person Mobile World Congress
(MWC) in Barcelona, Spain this summer. The company pulled out
of the event with a statement that read, in part, “the health and
safety of our employees, partners and customers is our number
one priority, so we have made the decision to withdraw from
exhibiting in-person at this year’s Mobile World Congress.” The
GSM Association, which runs the MWC shows, currently plans to
hold the in-person event on June 28. However, several major
vendors have already pulled out, with Sony, Nokia, Ericsson and
Google also revealing they will only attend the event virtually.
A spokesperson from the event organizer told EnGadget that they “respect
that planning in a pandemic is complicated,” and concluded by
saying “Samsung will adapt their presence to virtual for MWC21
and we look forward to seeing them in person 2022.” It remains
unclear if the GSMA will end up following suit with its 2020
attempt at an MWC event, which was eventually canceled when
nearly all of the major vendors declined to attend.


Google announced that
its Google Pay mobile payment platform will soon add support for
sending funds to friends and loved ones in India and Singapore.
The new feature is being made possible by a pair of alliances
with Western Union and Wise. The company allied with these two
payment providers for their international money transfer
frameworks, which it plans to leverage to offer payment services
in 200 countries via Western Union and 80 countries via Wise,
before year’s end. To attract users, Google is offering
promotional periods during which customers can send free,
unlimited payments via Western Union through June 16, and a
single free transfer via Wise (up to $500). The search giant
noted that it believes the feature will be a boon to those who
regularly need to send money home to relatives in other


Google announced that
it will add a “Safety” section to the Play store in the same vein
as Apple‘s new app privacy
labels. The company noted in a recent blog post that – starting
in “Q2 2022” – new and updated app submissions will be required
to provide specific details regarding the software’s policy of
collecting, sharing, securing, and storing data that could impact
one’s privacy and security. Google plans to collaborate “closely”
with developers to specifically highlight the types of info
collected and stored, app security practices, adherence to the
store’s Families policy, the necessity of sensitive information
for app functionality, verification status by an independent
third party, and policies regarding data deletion in the event of
an uninstall. The company noted that the individual app developer
will be responsible for keeping this information updated, with
those found in non-compliance subject to policy enforcement.


Google revealed that it
plans to begin stepping up
its efforts to get more users enrolled in its two-step
verification (2SV) service soon. The company has offered a second
factor for authenticating users’ passwords for several years. It
requires that users logging into a given Google-owned property
also tap a confirmation notification on their mobile device to
prove they are the legitimate owner of the account being logged
in. While this service has, so far, used voluntary enrollment,
Google revealed that it will now begin enrolling all users whose
“accounts are appropriately configured.” Users can use Google’s
tool to see if they fall into this category before
the changes begin. The search giant did not provide a timeframe
for when it will begin implementing this change, but did note
that this extra security measure is just one of a series of
efforts designed to increase security for users across the Web,
with a particular focus on using accounts holders’ mobile devices
as an extra level of security.


Google is reportedly testing the automated translations of YouTube videos from English
into the user’s native language. According to tips received by Android Police, the
feature has appeared for certain Web users on desktop and mobile,
as well as users of the service’s Android app, providing
subtitles in the user’s native tongue. So far only Turkish and
Portuguese are confirmed to have appeared as options, although
support for many more is widely expected given Google Translate’s
ability to translate 108 languages, at last count. Google has
remained mum on the rollout, making it unclear if this is the
beginning of a widespread launch, or simply an unannounced test.


In a streaming media version of the cable disputes between
carriers and channels, Roku says
that Google‘s YouTube TV
will no longer available on the Roku Channel Store. The deal
between the two entities expired at the end of April, and the
sides have not been able to reach agreement on a new contract.
The impasse seems to be not so much about financial terms but
about data. A letter to Roku’s customers published by Endgadget says, “We
cannot accept Google’s unfair and anticompetitive requirements
that would allow for the manipulation of your search results,
impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.”
Google countered in its own blog post that “We can’t give Roku special
treatment at the expense of users. To be clear, we have never, as
they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or
interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false.”
Roku says that the regular YouTube app is unaffected by this
situation and remains freely available on Roku devices, but new
subscriptions from the YouTube TV app have been switched off
“until an agreement is reached.”


Google announced that
it is expanding its Android Earthquake Alerts System to countries
that do not have their own early warning system for the first
time. The first two of these nations will be Greece and New
Zealand, both of which will now receive access to mobile
notifications of dangerous seismic activity. The detection system
uses the accelerometers of many, many Android devices to act as
a seismometer, detecting events and informing other users of
those detections. While Google had already partnered with the
United States Geological Survey (USGS) and ShakeAlert in the US
to provide alerts to users in California, this is the first time
the company has offered an entire nation both detection and alert


Google introduced a
new “Simply Unlimited” phone data plan for Google Fi users. This
offering, which coincidentally launches on the sixth anniversary
of Fi, promises “unlimited data with just the essentials.” Rates
begin at $30/device/month for three or more lines of service, and
include unlimited voice minutes, texting, and data in the US,
Canada, and Mexico. Single- ($60/month) and two-line
($45/device/month) plans are also available. It should be noted
that other premium features, such as mobile hotspot connectivity,
are available starting with the more expensive $50/device/month
Unlimited Plus plan formerly known as “Unlimited.” Unlimited Plus
also includes calling to 50+ destinations and data in 200+
foreign locations, worldwide. Additional information
regarding Fi plans is available via the Google Fi Web site.


Google issued a new
status report to
address the fallout from last month’s widespread issue with its
WebView protocol. The code in question caused dozens of apps to
freeze or be inoperable for up to eight hours, before Google
fixed the issue on its end. The company’s update both goes into
the technical details of the root cause of the failure, while
also providing information on how it plans to prevent any
recurrence in the future. This preventative measure revolves
around a new “Safe Mode,” which will allow WebView to revert to a
previous version, in the event of an error. Additional
information is available at the provided link.


Google debuted its
latest update to the Chromebook platform with several new
features. Among the new and updated capabilities is an expanded
universal search bar that can now surface answers to simple
calculations and immediate responses to queries about weather
and stock prices; a new Diagnostics App that allows users to
troubleshoot their Chromebooks; expanded support for text editing
of scanned documents; and the addition of support for Google’s
Live Captioning service, which provides automatic close captions
for any audio or video files being played on the device. The
update is rolling out now to all eligible devices.


A number of major browser developers appear to be leaning
against using Google‘s new
Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) mechanism to replace
cookie trackers. Unlike third-party cookies that are used by
advertisers to keep tabs on users’ online behavior and interests
across different sites, FLoC is built into the Web browser and
assigns consumers to behavior cohorts. This aggregated data is
then sold to sites and advertisers. 9to5 Google reports that Mozilla says it is evaluating
“privacy-preserving advertising proposals” for Firefox, including
FLoC, but at this point, it is not implementing the new tech, a
stance that was echoed by Opera. Microsoft Edge, which uses
Google’s open source Chromium as its base but is advocating for
its own PARAKEET tracking system, has reportedly disabled FLoC and will not make it available in the
browser even if enabled via command-line arguments. Previously,
DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and Brave all came out against the tool,
with Vivaldi stating, “We will not support the FLoC API and plan
to disable it, no matter how it is implemented. It does not
protect privacy and it certainly is not beneficial to users, to
unwittingly give away their privacy for the financial gain of


The Project Connected Home over IP (Project CHIP) alliance
between Apple, Amazon, Google, and more than 170
other companies is set to start certifying smart home devices in
late 2021. The Verge reports that the
Zigbee Alliance
indicated in a Webinar that products operating under the
compatibility standard – such as lighting controls, blinds, HVAC
systems, TVs, door locks, garage door openers, security systems,
and Wi-Fi routers – could be available in time for holiday
shopping. CHIP is meant to establish a unified standard for smart
home products to ensure that the products consumers buy will
work with devices they already own. One important factor is to
ensure devices from different manufacturers work with the
customer’s voice assistant of choice. From its initiation in
late 2019, the project has said it aims to enable communication
across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services as
well as define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies
for device certification.


Google‘s Project Zero
threat hunting team says it will add an additional 30 days to its
vulnerability disclosure cycle, providing more time to fix
vulnerabilities before technical details are released. The group
previously had a 90-day policy following vendor notification
before publicly releasing news of vulnerabilities. According to
the new guidelines, “If an issue remains
unpatched after 90 days, technical details are published
immediately. If the issue is fixed within 90 days, technical
details are published 30 days after the fix.” Rather than
allowing vendors more time to develop a fix, the additional
timeframe is intended for customers to apply the patch before
details are released and hackers begin looking for exposed
devices. Google also says the 30-day period before releasing
technical details will apply to bugs being actively exploited
in-the-wild. If the issue remains unpatched after seven days,
technical details are published immediately, but if it is fixed
within a week, those details will now be published 30 days after
the patch.


Google officially pegged
May 18th through May 20th as the dates for the 2021 edition of
its I/O developer’s conference. The event will once again be held
in an online-only format, with attendance being offered for free
to anyone wishing to participate. The event typically plays home
to major software updates under development at Google, with past
editions providing reveals for Google’s Duplex AI, major
Assistant updates, and other features. A full schedule for this
year’s conference, which should provide more clues on what
attendees can expect to see, has been promised for later this
month. Attendees will also be able to access livestreamed
workshops and Ask Me Anything sessions with Google engineers.
is open now.


Google‘s latest update
for its flagship Pixel 5 smartphone appears to have provided a
significant boost to the performance of the device’s GPU.
According to tests performed by Der Standard and Anandtech, the most recent refresh includes a 30 to 50
percent increase in benchmark testing performance. The related
patch notes do reference the inclusion of “performance
optimizations for certain graphics-intensive apps and games.”
This may come as welcome news to device owners, as the Pixel
5’s GPU was widely reported to be underperforming, when
compared to other smartphones based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon
765G chipset. The update in question is available for all Pixel 5
units now.


A North Korean espionage campaign that targets security
researchers has refined its attack by creating a fake company,
Web site, and social media accounts to lure victims, according to
Google‘s Threat Analysis
Group (TAG). The supposed company, called “SecuriElite”, poses as a
Turkish security company offering penetration testing, software
security assessments, and exploits. Social media listings from
the attackers include phony profiles of individuals posing as
fellow security researchers interested in exploitation and
offensive security. TAG says, “On LinkedIn, we identified two
accounts impersonating recruiters for antivirus and security
companies.” Using the profiles, the actors reach out to security
professionals, asking to collaborate on cybersecurity research
and sending them an attachment containing a backdoor or pointing
them to a blog with malicious code including browser exploits.
The latest development is part of a campaign that TAG originally
uncovered in January and continues to track.


Google has introduced
a new policy limiting what types of applications on the Android
platform can access information detailing what else is installed
on the same device. The change was noted in Google’s Developer Program Policy, and
impacts the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission,” which can
provide software with a full list of installed apps on a device
running Android 11 or later. Google now regards this list of
installed apps as “personal and sensitive information,” requiring
that access to it be strictly limited. The types of apps that
will retain the ability to use the API call are antivirus
programs, file managers, browsers, and applications designed to
search the device’s internal storage. The updated policy notes
that any apps wishing to retain access must “sufficiently justify
why a less intrusive method of app visibility will not
sufficiently enable [their] app’s policy compliant user facing
core functionality.” This follows a similar policy change enacted
in 2018, which saw Google limiting which apps could access a
user’s call logs and text messaging data.


Google introduced Stack, a new mobile app
designed to help smartphone owners scan and organize their
important documents. Developed by the company’s Area 120
incubator, the new app utilizes Google’s enterprise-grade DocAI
technology to analyze and categorize your documents
automatically. Users can scan documents via their device’s
cameras, or by uploading an image of the document. Once
captured, the image will be organized into a titular “Stack,”
based on its contents. The app is also capable of highlighting
important content within each captured document, such as
transaction dates on receipts, while also capturing all including
text, and making it searchable. The app is available exclusively
for Android on the Google Play store. It should be noted that the
application is still considered under development, which could
result in less-than-perfect behavior.


At-home entertainment continues to boom with consumers
turning to their personal devices to fill time previously spent
with friends. App Annie’s first quarter report for 2021
shows that spending on apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play rose to $32
billion, up 40 percent from the year before. This marks the
biggest quarter for app purchasing ever and a $9 billion increase
over the first quarter of 2020, when pandemic restrictions were
just beginning to fully be implemented. The percentage of share
between the two stores remains consistent when comparing the
two periods. Apple customers spent $21 billion on iOS apps in the
quarter, while Android captured $11 billion in the market.


Google‘s Project Zero says that a highly
sophisticated cyberthreat group – or possibly two groups working
in tandem – is using as many as eleven zero-day flaws to infect
fully patched devices running Windows, iOS, and Android. The
attacks, which began in February 2020, chain together several
vulnerabilities using compromised Web sites as “watering holes”
to attract victims. The researchers say that in a first wave of
attacks four zero-day exploits targeted Chrome and Windows
machines via a complex exploit chain. This was followed in
October by the discovery that the same attackers were using seven
additional zero-day exploits for Android, Windows, and iOS. Upon
further analysis, the researchers were led to two exploit
servers, and though evidence suggests that the entities behind
the two exploit servers were different, the researchers believe
they were likely working in a coordinated fashion. While this
group of zero-days has been addressed by the companies involved,
Project Zero says the hacking operation shows “expert
understanding of exploit development and the vulnerability being


Google revealed that its
Live Caption feature is now available with the latest update to
its Google Chrome Web browser for desktops operating systems.
The accessibility option, which has been available within the
Android version of Chrome for some time, uses Google’s AI
technology to automatically provide live captions for ongoing
audio or video playback. The company said it created the
technology for both the deaf and hard of hearing community, and
for those wishing to consume content without audible volume. The
feature works across “social and video sites, podcasts and radio
content, personal video libraries (such as Google Photos),
embedded video players, and most web-based video or audio chat
services.” It can also be used offline for video and audio files
stored locally that are being played through Chrome. Google notes
that all of the processing that allows audible speech to be
turned into text happens entirely on the user’s device, meaning
none of the associated data is ever transmitted over the open
Internet. The new feature can be found in the Advanced portion of
the Accessibility section within the Chrome Settings menu. Google
plans to bring the feature to its ChromeOS “soon.”


Google Introduced a
new version of its Nest Hub smart display with features designed
to help users get a better night’s sleep. The new Nest Hub
utilizes Google’s Soli technology to detect the user’s movements
during the night, including measurements as granular as their
breathing patterns. These readings are combined with other user
metrics to produce a report on the individual’s sleep quality,
duration, and more. In addition to these sleep-centric
capabilities, the Nest Hub provides the usual array of smart
display capabilities on its seven-inch, 1024 x 600 touchscreen.
Behind this screen is an updated speaker array which includes a
new 43.5mm woofer for better bass performance, as well as
updated hardware that makes it possible for up to 50 percent
faster responses. The new Nest Hub will run consumers $99 and
will be available March 30, with Google opening pre-orders on
March 16.


Google announced that it will soon reduce the fees
being paid to its Google Play store for the majority of Andorid
app developers. According to the aforementioned press release,
devs will now only be charged 15 percent for the first $1 billion
they earn from the first-party app store each calendar year.
Google claims this will effectively halve the amount being paid
to it by 99 percent of Android developers. The company noted that
it hopes these additional funds will allow smaller devs to “scale
up at a critical phase of their growth by hiring more engineers,
adding to their marketing staff, increasing server capacity, and
more.” It should be noted that any developers that make more than
$1 million in a single year will still have to pay the standard
30 percent fee to Google for all funds received past that point.
While Apple also announced a similar program for smaller
developers last year, that initiative required those devs to
specifically apply to receive access to the reduced fee. Google’s
take on the move will automatically impact all programmers of the
appropriate size.


Google updated its
Meet video chat app with a new “grid view.” This mode equally spaces all call
participants into a grid which has been automatically organized
bases on the size of the user’s device screen. This layout joins
the app’s traditional method of displaying a single
participating, typically the current speaker, as taking up the
vast majority of the display. The updated version of Google Meet
is available now for iOS, and is expected to roll out for Android


Google updated its
Chrome for Android browser with a new feature that allows users
to see a “preview page” of what lies behind a link before
actually tapping on it. The change, which was originally reported
by 9to5Google, is made possible via a
server-side update. It appears when users long-press on a link,
popping up a small peek at what they will see if they actually
visit the page in question. Similar features have been available
in Apple’s mobile Safari browser and Microsoft’s Edge on iOS for
some time.


Google will soon
remove a long-standing feature from its Google Voice service
which allowed users to forward text messages to a second mobile
number. While the ability to forward calls remains part of the
offering, the text message redirection will apparently be
removed, according to a notice reported on by Android
. The warning, which appeared within select users’
Google Voice apps, says “message forwarding to linked numbers
will stop soon because mobile carriers have started to block
those messages.” It should be noted that texts received through
Google Voice will still be accessible via the Web, but will no
longer be shared between devices. Google did not elaborate on
exactly when the change would happen, or why carrier have begun
blocking such redirected messages.


Google marked the
10-year anniversary of its first Chromebook release with the
debut of a major revamp of the Chrome OS operating system. The
new features in this upcoming update include a new Phone Hub
which brings “key capabilities” such as responding to messages,
seeing battery levels, and syncing browser tabs from the user’s
Android device over to their Chromebook; expanded Wi-Fi Sync for
quickly connecting new devices to an existing wireless network; a
revamped screen capture tool; new media controls in the Quick
Setting menu; a more advanced clipboard which can store up to
five items at once; an expansion of the management of multiple
desktops, and more. The New update is rolling out soon to
eligible devices.


Google is rumored to
be working on a revamped version of its Chromecast interface for
Android users. According to 9to5Google, the company is
currently developing a new version of its YouTube app for Android
which will be its first software to support a more advanced
version of the Chromecast interface, adding the ability to see
information such as the option to set streaming resolutions,
enable subtitles and captions, and access other features
typically only found on the YouTube Web site. While the
additional capabilities will likely be welcome for many users,
the report’s sources also claim that the updated YouTube app
appears to also include additional ads, when compared to the
current version. Google had not commented on the pre-release
version of its YouTube app for Android at the time of writing.


Google introduced a
major shift in its online advertising business model in a new blog post titled “Charting a course towards a more
privacy-first web.” According to the official publication, the
search giant will stop selling ads that are targeted via
individuals’ Web browsing histories, and it will no longer build
any tools to aid in the tracking of specific individuals across
the Web. Targeted ads have been a major tentpole of Google’s ad
business for over a decade, but have been under increasing
regulatory pressure from government entities and consumer
watchdog groups that decry their impact on user privacy. Instead,
the company apparently plans to rely on technologies like
“Federated Learning of Cohorts API (FloC),” a method that tracks
anonymous groups of users to deliver targeted ads, rather than
specific individuals. This tracking method is expected to be
available in Chrome trial versions later this month, with support
being added to Google Ads for the technology sometime during the
second quarter of the year.


Google revealed an
update for its Google Play Services for AR app that will allow
owners of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL to use their dual camera arrays to
power ARCore SDK content. According to the company, this will
provide AR-based content with better depth perception, resulting
in more accurate placement of virtual objects within the real
world. The new functionality will be available in Google’s Search
app, and within other software based on the ARCore SDK. Google
did not specifically mention any intention to bring the update to
the Pixel 5, but it almost certainly will, given the device’s
inclusion of all necessary hardware and newer generational
status. The update is rolling out to all eligible Pixel 4 devices


Google debuted the latest update for its Pixel
smartphones, adding new functionality for its voice recorder, UI
customization options, and underwater photography capabilities.
First, the built-in Recorder app now supports sharing
automatically transcribed text files of voice recordings
alongside audio files of the same content. These files are now
available to other Pixel users, as well as to other smartphone
and PC users via Next,
the company’s customization options have been expanded to
include new wallpaper options focused on International Women’s
Day, new options for its predictive Smart Compose feature that
allow it to be used within third-party messaging apps, and new
bedtime scheduling notifications. Lastly, the latest Pixel update
includes new features which allow the smartphones, with
appropriate waterproof cases, to be used for underwater
photography. More information about this feature and supported
cases can be found via this Web page. The update
is rolling out to eligible Pixel smartphones now.


Google says that its
Password Checkup feature that warns users if their login has been
involved in a data breach is now available to Android users. When
a password is entered, Android will compare the information to a
database containing billions of leaked or stolen credentials. In
addition to searching for compromised information, it also
indicates the relative strength of a password. The program was
first rolled out on the Chrome Web browser in October 2019, and
similar offerings can be found on other browsers such as Firefox,
Safari, and Edge. Apple has had its own version for iPhones since
iOS 14 was released in 2020. The Verge says that Password Checkup is available for
phones and tablets running Android 9 or later and comes as part
of a package of new features, including the option to schedule
delivery of text messages.


Google introduced a slate of udpates to its education tools, including
Classroom, Meet, and Workspace for education. The updates are
designed to help users currently participating in remote learning
and include a new dashboard for Classroom, improved offline
support, new anti-plagiarism tools, classroom management
capabilities for Meet chats, and an expansion of the company’s
Workspace product to specifically address issues facing teachers
and students. Additional details about the updates are available
at the above link.


Google updated its
Google Maps app for Android to allow users to pay for parking
services within the app itself. the new payment feature supports
parking fees in more than 400 US cities as well as transport
costs at 80 transit agencies across the world. Both options use
Google Pay to fund the service in question, with users able to
leverage their devices’ contactless payment options to pay for
parking meters operated by Parkmobile and Passport by tapping
the new “Pay for Parking” button that appears in supported areas.
Device owners that are running late will also have the option to
extend their parking time within the app, without having to visit
the meter itself. The list of cities currently supporting the new
payment option includes Boston, Cincinnati, Houston, Los
Angeles, New York, and Washington DC, with plans for additional
locations to launch in the future. iOS support for this feature
is expected to follow in the near future.


Chromium Web browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, will
enhance their security protections with the addition Intel‘s Control-flow Enforcement
Technology (CET). The CET feature prevents the hijacking of an
application’s control-flow transfer instructions. This is a
method employed by attackers to inject malicious code. CET is
also designed to protect against Return Oriented Programming
(ROP) and Jump Oriented Programming (JOP) attacks, which use
existing code running from executable memory to change program
behavior. The security feature will be coming to all Chromium
browsers, including Chrome, Edge, Brave, and Opera. In addition,
Mozilla is looking into
adding support for Intel CET in Firefox, but, according to Bleeping
, there has been no recent status update for their
implementation. Because Intel CET is a hardware-based security
solution, only Chromium browsers running on devices with 11th
generation Intel CPUs, which were released last year, will have
access to the feature.


Google released a major update to its Google Photos
app that brings much of the granular control previously limited
to photo editing to the app’s video editing capabilities as well.
New features include the ability to trim, stabilize, and rotate
videos, as well as new options to crop, change perspective, and
apply a range of filters capable of altering metrics such as
brightness, contrast, warmth, and saturation. Unusually, these
new features are available first on the iOS version of Google
Photos, with plans to bring them to the Android edition of the
app in the “coming weeks.” As part of the same announcement,
Google also noted that it is making cloud-based photo and video
editing capabilities originally limited to its Google Pixel line
to its Google One cloud-based storage service. The new
capabilities here include a range of edits based on machine
learning, such as Portrait Blur and Portrait Light, as well as
other functions capable of leveraging the company’s AI to alter
photos with included depth information. Devices will be required
to have 3GB of RAM and Android 8.0, or newer, to take advantage
of the expanded Google One photo editing options.


Google announced a
series of major changes to the Virtual Private Network (VPN)
service provided by its Google Fi wireless carrier offering.
First, the company’s VPN for Android is officially exiting beta
after spending several months in a pre-finale state. Next, it
will soon be available for iPhone users, making it officially
available to all Fi subscribers for the first time. Users on both
platforms will also soon be able to access a new privacy and security hub, which provides info on the VPN
service, as well as on other security features offered by Google
Fi. Lastly, Google revealed that all Fi customers will now also
receive protection against spam and unwanted robocalls, as well
as safeguards to prevent attempts to steal their phone number
through attacks such as SIM swapping. Additional information
about all of these changes is available via the Google Fi Web

Google‘s upcoming
Android 12 update appears to have been leaked by XDA-Developers. The
blog posted what it claims are the “first” screenshots of the
next major refresh of the mobile operating system. The source of
these screenshots is an “alleged early draft” of the update drawn
from a document designed to outline proposed changes. Alterations
appear to include a new notifications pane, a reorganization of
the Quick Settings tiles, and a new “privacy indicator” field.
This final feature is designed to let users know when apps are
making use of their device’s hardware, such as its camera or
microphone. In addition to these alterations to the basic Android
framework, the screenshots also purport to show a new
“conversations widget,” a pop-up app that allows users to quickly
access messaging conversations from their home screen. It
remains unclear how accurate these screenshots will be by the
time Google officially reveals Android 12 sometime later this


Google paid more than
$6.7 million to 662 security researchers from 62 countries in
2020 for spotting vulnerabilities in its products. The payments
are made through the company’s Vulnerability Reward Programs for Android,
Chrome, and Web services and surpassed 2019’s $6.5 million
payout. Android operating system vulnerabilities reaped
researchers $1.74 million in rewards, while identified Chrome
exploits chalked up $2.1 million for approximately 300 bugs. That
is 83 percent more paid for Chrome flaws than in 2019, partially
due to a new payment scale instituted in mid-2019. Google says it
also awarded more than $400,000 in grants to 180 security
researchers around the world last year that resulted in 200 bug
reports and 100 confirmed vulnerabilities in its products and the
open-source ecosystem.


Google introduced a
new update for its Pixel smartphones that
will allow the devices to measure users’ heart rates and
breathing metrics by exploiting the smartphones’ cameras. The
technology works by using the devices’ rear cameras to measure
tiny changes in user skin color to detect pulse rates, and by
using the smartphone’s front camera to detect respiration through
the expansion of the user’s torso. Google noted that it plans to
gradually expand this feature to other Android-based devices, but
did not specify what hardware requirements the functionality may


Google‘s latest release
of the Chrome operating system for Chromebooks will implement
passwordless sign in. A company blog says that with the
WebAuthn feature users can securely sign in to Web sites with the
PIN or fingerprint used to unlock their Chromebook. “Websites
that support WebAuthn will let you use your Chromebook PIN or
fingerprint ID – if your Chromebook has a fingerprint reader –
instead of the password you’ve set for the website. And if you
use 2-Step Verification to sign-in, your Chromebook PIN or
fingerprint ID can be used as the second factor, so you no longer
need to pull out your security key or phone to authenticate.”
Sites that support WebAuthn include Google, Twitter, Dropbox,
Microsoft, and GitHub. WebAuthn was elevated to an official Web
standard by the World Wide Web Consortium in 2019.


Google debuted a newly redesigned results page for its mobile Web
search. The visual refresh is designed to bring the focus of the
page design back to the results themselves, rather than any
extraneous media or information. To this end, the pages now take
up the user’s entire screen, include larger text, and feature
reduced graphical flares, like drop-shadows. The company also
revamped the fonts and graphics to bring the results pages in
line with its most recent branding efforts. Google noted that the
revamped results page should begin appearing for all users “in
the coming days.”


For several months, Google‘s Threat Analysis
Group has been tracking an ongoing North Korean-backed
campaign that targets individual security researchers working on
vulnerability research and development at various companies and
organizations. In its blog post, the Google team says
the actors use multiple platforms to communicate with potential
targets, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, Discord, Keybase,
and e-mail. “After establishing initial communications, the
actors would ask the targeted researcher if they wanted to
collaborate on vulnerability research together, and then provide
the researcher with a Visual Studio Project.” This file, however,
contained malicious code that installed malware on the targeted
researcher’s operating system, which operated as a backdoor and
contacted a remote command and control server to receive future
commands. The malware was subsequently linked to the Lazarus
Group, a well-known North Korean operation. Although Google does
not say exactly what the aim of the hacking campaign is, the
focus on a specific type of researcher suggests the attackers may
be trying to learn more about non-public vulnerabilities that can
be used in future state-sponsored attacks.


Although Google
announced one year ago that it would end the use of third-party
cookies for tracking on its Chrome Web browser by early 2022,
what it will use as a replacement has been unclear. Now, the
company says that among the options it is testing is a process
that tracks groups of users rather than individuals. The
proposal, termed Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), would put
people into groups based on similar browsing behaviors and use
“cohort IDs” rather than individual behaviors to target them. The
user’s Web history and other inputs for the algorithm would be
kept on the browser, with the browser only identifying a “cohort”
that holds thousands of people. The company claims this is “an
effective privacy-focused replacement signal for third party
cookies.” While advertisers and other companies that track
individuals’ browsing habits across Web sites are wary of
Google’s move to replace the ubiquitous cookies, the company’s blog post claims that with FLoC “advertisers can
expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent
when compared to cookie-based advertising.” Google says it
expects to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in
Google Ads during the second quarter of 2021.


Google introduced Guest
, a new way to control privacy across its smart speaker
and smart display lineups. The new option goes into effect when
users say “Hey Google, turn on Guest Mode,” at which point the
unit in question will no longer save any interactions to its
associated user accounts. Users can still use all of the same
functionality, but none of the queries or control requests will
be saved, nor will any personalized results be shown. Google
suggests the new mode will be handy when trying to avoid spoiling
surprises for other members of the same household, and when the
device’s owner wants to avoid having guests’ usage impacting
their personal recommendations. The new feature should be rolling
out to all eligible devices now.


Google engineers were
confirmed to be investigating an issue with the
Android Exposure Notifications System, the company’s platform for
tracking COVID-19 exposure in the UK and elsewhere. According
to a report
from The Verge, the
app is experiencing extremely long load times during exposure
checks and while operating in the background of user devices. The
notification system was designed collaboratively through a
cooperative effort between Google and Apple. It remained unknown at
the time of writing what the cause was, or if any Apple users
were being impacted. A tweet from the UK’s NHS, linked above,
noted that it is “working with Google to urgently investigate and
resolve the issue as soon as possible.”


A sophisticated hacking operation that used previously
unknown vulnerabilities was able to gain access to Android and
Windows devices during the first months of 2020, according to Google researchers. The Project Zero team says it discovered two
exploit servers delivering different exploit chains, with one
server targeting Windows users and the other targeting Android.
Both the Windows and the Android servers used Chrome exploits
for the initial remote code execution. “The exploits for Chrome
and Windows included 0-days. For Android, the exploit chains used
publicly known n-day exploits,” the researchers explained. “Based
on the actor’s sophistication, we think it’s likely that they had
access to Android 0-days, but we didn’t discover any in our
analysis.” The four zero-day exploits employed included a Chrome
vulnerability in TurboFan, two font issues on Windows, and a
Windows CSRSS flaw. All the items were patched by their vendors
in February and April of 2020. Project Zero called the exploit
chain a well-engineered effort that provided both flexibility and
efficiency, concluding, “We believe that teams of experts have
designed and developed these exploit chains.”


In the aftermath of the rampage at the US Capitol, Apple and Google have both removed
Parler from their app stores, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) said it would no
longer provide cloud hosting services for the social media site.
The forum has been a favorite for ultraconservative supporters of
President Donald Trump and was used to coordinate activities
leading up to and during the Capitol breach. Parler has little to
no moderation of content, and Apple cited “threats of violence
and illegal activity” taking place on the site as a reason for
its removal. AWS similarly ruled that the frequency of content
calling for violence was not in compliance with its terms of
service. “Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent
content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” AWS
said in an e-mail to Parler’s chief policy officer. “It’s clear
that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the
AWS terms of service.” In response, Parler filed a lawsuit
against AWS hours after it was taken down. The Washington Post says that Parler
claims Amazon is in breach of its contract by not providing 30
days’ notice before dropping the service. Parler also alleges
that Amazon is being hypocritical by not taking similar action
against Twitter, where violent posts can also appear.


Google announced that
Apple‘s Apple TV app is
coming to its Chromecast with Google TV streaming devices. With
this new support, users will be able to watch content from the
Apple TV+ streaming video service, with an active subscription,
as well as any movies and TV shows purchased from Apple’s digital
storefronts. Google claims this makes its Chromecast with Google
TV device “one of the only streaming devices with all the major
video subscriptions.” Apple TV joins Apple Music, which was
already available on the Chromecast with Google TV platform. The
app is expected to be available “early next year,” with support
on other Android TV-based devices planned for later in 2021.


In a move predicted by many, Google has officially ended
sales of its Google Home Max smart speaker. The device’s
production has already ended, and it has now gone out of stock on
Google’s own online store front. The company told EnGadget that it plans to
continue supporting the unit for the foreseeable future, but will
not be restocking it for sale. The Home Max was designed to be an
ideal smart speaker for audiophiles, sporting a dedicated 75mm
woofer, 19mm tweeter, and specialized software designed to
optimize sound for the user’s streaming audio needs. While Google
has not launched a direct successor to the Home Max, it does now
produce the Nest Audio, a smaller, audiophile-focused unit with
its own enhanced speaker array and audio optimization software.
The Nest Audio also offers the additional option of being usable
in pairs for true stereo sound.


Most of Google‘s major
services suffered a complete outage early Monday morning,
including Google Drive, Maps, Nest, Calendar, Gmail, YouTube,
YouTube TV, Meet, Hangouts, Stadia, Duo, and several others. The
outage began around 6:47 AM ET and lasted nearly an hour before
most services were fully restored. A Google spokesperson
explained the downtime later in the day, saying “at 3:47 AM PT
Google experienced an authentication system outage for
approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue.
Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates
during this period. The authentication system issue was resolved
at 4:32AM PT.” While the company did not post any specific
information on what the original root cause of the issue may have
been, it did promise to “conduct a thorough follow up review to
ensure this problem cannot recur in the future.” This unwelcome
outage comes during a year when Google has already experienced
several high-profile service failures, and at a time when many
remote workers and online students are relying on its products.
Luckily this particular incident was mostly resolved before most
of these groups would be impacted by it.


It’s no surprise that mobile usage sky-rocketed in 2020 due to
COVID-19. To make that abundantly clear, App Annie’s end of year
highlights the accelerated adoption of apps throughout
the year. The growth of the market has now placed us “two to
three years” ahead of where analysts thought we would be twelve
months ago, with global spending on Apple‘s App Store and Google Play projected to reach
$112 billion by the end of the year. That’s a 25 percent
year-over-year increase. “While 65 cents of every dollar went to
iOS, spend in Google Play will grow close to 30 percent,”
according to the report. In terms of categories, $0.71 of every
dollar went to games across iOS and Google Play combined, while
other leading categories include photo and video and social
networking apps. In total, consumers will have downloaded 130
billion apps in 2020 across iOS and Google Play, showing 10
percent growth year-over-year.


Google dropped its
latest batch of new features
for owners of its Pixel
smartphones. The newest update brings with it a slate of
capabilities that were recently introduced with Google’s Pixel 5
smartphone. This includes Hold for Me, an option which helps
users put their phone down while being put on hold by a business
by notifying them when a live operator rejoins the call; Extreme
Battery Saver, an ultra-low power operating mode which throttles
all be essential apps; enhanced screen sharing options; and a
revamped photo editor for the company’s Google Photos app. The
update also includes several under-the-hood enhancements, such
as Adaptive Sound and Adaptive Battery, both of which tailor
device performance to the user’s current situation, as well as
new AR media options featuring characters from “The Mandalorian.”
The December Pixel feature drop is rolling out now to all
eligible devices.


Google is reportedly preparing a new Android update that
includes a number of “small but practical additions.” According
to EnGadget, the mobile
platform refresh will include access to auto-narrated audiobooks,
expanded Voice Access features, and revamped Android Auto app
with additional country support. The Web site claims that Google
is collaborating with a set of “US and UK publishers” to add
audiobook content to the Play Store with publishers given
“limited access” to a beta auto-narration tool sometime in “early
2021.” Google is also supposedly rolling out support for Android
Auto in additional countries in the “next few months,” although
it is as-yet unclear as to whether support will be available
exclusively for Android 10 and later. Also reportedly of note,
Google is adding a “Go Tab” within Maps for navigating to
frequently visited locations; pinned public transportation routes
for Maps; a “Nearby Share” option for sending apps of interest to
other Android devices; improved Voice Access; and improved
access to Gboard emojis. Engadget – which did not cite a specific
source for this information – noted that users will likely have
to wait until 2021 to trial the elements.


Google introduced its new Community Feed feature to its Maps
platform. The purpose of the capability is to help users stay
apprised of changes in their communities, including restaurant
openings and closings, service availabilities, and other regional
changes. The new feature will appear in Google Maps’ Explore tab,
where users can see reviews, photos, and posts submitted by
fellow users. Device owners can also choose to follow local
businesses to be updated on changes submitted by their operators.
Google noted that, “In early testing of the community feed [it]
saw that posts from merchants are seen two times more than
before the feed existed.”


Google revealed that Android device owners
will now be able to capture and upload their own Street View
images to its Google Maps database. The “connected photos”
feature employs Google’s ARCore technology to capture images as
the user walks down a given street. Google’s software can then
“rotate, position and create a series of connected photos,” from
the user’s capture images. This gallery can then be uploaded “in
the right place on Google Maps, so your new Street View can be
found in the exact location where it was taken for others to see
and explore.” Photo galleries uploaded in this way will appear on
the live version of Google Maps as dotted blue lines, which can
be tapped on to surface the associated images. Google’s own
images will be displayed as solid blue lines now, to
differentiate official uploads from user captures. While Google
had previously supported user-generated Street View imagery, it
required users to employ a 360-degree camera. This is the first
time users can upload imagery with a standard smartphone


Google officially
announced that its RCS (Rich Chat Services) messaging support is
now available on a global basis. This means that anyone with a
supported Android device using Google’s Messages app can now
take advantage of the feature. The RCS protocol supports improved
photo and video quality, read receipts, Wi-Fi-based messaging,
and enhanced group chat abilities. With this phase of its rollout
complete, Google announced that it will now focus on introducing
end-to-end encryption. Google plans to roll out this security
feature for one-on-one conversations in a beta environment
starting this month. Interested users can sign up for the open
beta program here.


Google released a rare
update for its WearOS wearable operating system. This refresh
focuses on the platform’s health and fitness features, adding
three new Tiles: Workouts, Weather, and Breathe. Tiles are
quick-access screens the user can swipe to in order to access
certain functions quickly. The new Workout Tile allows users to
quickly access recent workouts, including metrics like pulse and
duration; Weather provides quick access to current conditions and
forecast information; and Breathe offers the user quick access to
guided breathing sessions, complete with heart rate monitoring.
To empower these new features, Google is also updating its Fit
smartphone app with the ability to pull data from third-party
devices and services, such as fitness trackers and allied
applications. A revamped homepage within the app will leverage
these stats and others to summarize the user’s performance,
including metrics such as recent workout duration, fitness
trends, and health measurements for heart rate, weight, and blood
pressure. The update is rolling out now to eligible devices.


Google‘s YouTube streaming video
platform suffered a major outage on Wednesday, November 11. The
downtime began during the evening, with YouTube’s TeamYouTube Twitter
acknowledging the outage in a tweet posted at 7:23PM ET. The outage impacted
not only the YouTube Web site, but also its apps and related
services, such as YouTube TV and YouTube Music. Malfunctions
included pages simply not loading, endless buffering loops, and
other strange behavior. While Google has still not provided any
reason behind the major outage, it did confirm that the service was back up and running
nearly two hours later at 9:13PM ET. This is the second major
downtime suffered by the service this year.


Google revea
that it will no longer offer free, unlimited storage of
photos for users of its Google Photos cloud-based album service.
The company announced this termination as part of a larger change
to its service storage policies, with Google’s Workspace, Slides,
and Sheets offerings also being affected. The change will go into
effect on June 1, 2021, and will impact any “high quality” photos
or videos uploaded after that date. Any new media will then count
against the user’s 15GB free storage allowance, which also
supports accounts’ Gmail storage and other Google Drive-based
services. It should be noted that owners of Google’s Pixel
smartphones will continue to be exempt from uploads completed
via any of the first-party handsets. The company pointed to “the
growing demand for storage” as being behind this decision. The
search giant’s Google One service will remain available for $2
per month, offering subscribers 100GB of space for photos or
other media.


Google announced a
major expansion of its Android
Enterprise Recommended
program, including the addition of
several major industry players. The program, which was founded in
2018, aims to “help customers select, deploy and manage devices
with more confidence.” It does this by evaluating and approving
devices and hardware for use by enterprise customers via a
stringent review of hardware security and manufacturers’ software
update policies. The program launched with 7 hardware partners,
and has now grown to include a total of 30 Android device makers.
The latest batch of participants added to the program with this
announcement includes Samsung, Lenovo, OnePlus, OPPO, and
Xiaomi. As part of the same announcement, Google also noted that
the Android Enterprise Recommended program was being updated
with new guidelines as well, including tighter hardware
specifications, improved testing, and more transparency around
device update support.


According to recent reports, a number of the top SSL-secured
Web sites will no longer be able to load on “older” Android
devices starting in 2021. This news comes via Android Police, which
noted that
Let’s Encrypt plans to
officially stop signing new SSL certificates that contain DST
Root X1. Essentially, this decision would mean that proper
certificates would not be installed on some devices, causing
those pages to either “encounter issues or fail to load
entirely.” The certificate authority – which Android Police noted
has certificates used by approximately 30 percent of all web
domains – has seen all of its certificates to date cross-signed
with IdenTrust‘s DST Root X3
root. At issue is that the companies’ partnership expires on
September 1, 2021, and, per AP, the group “doesn’t plan on
entering another cross-signing agreement.” This change would
mean that any browsers or operating systems without a Let’s
Encrypt root certificate will no longer load with sites using IdenTrust. Although Let’s Encrypt plans to cease cross-signing
activity by default on January 11, 2021, sites can continue
generating cross-signed certificates for the remaining eight
months. Devices running Android 7.1 or lower are expected to be
primarily affected. Android Police noted that the only
work-around is to run the Firefox browser, but that this “doesn’t
prevent applications and other functions outside the browser from


Google took to its own forums to attempt to allay user fears over a widely
reported issue with its recently-launched Pixel 5 smartphone.
Shortly after the device began shipping, multiple users began
reporting that there was an unusually large gap between the
display glass and the body of their devices. Users were disturbed
by both the aesthetic nature of the gap, and by the possibility
that it would detract from the device’s water and dust proofing.
However, Google has now posted to the forums to say that it “can
confirm that the variation in the clearance between the body and
the display is a normal part of the design of [the] Pixel 5.” The
representative making the post further claims that “There is no
effect on the water and dust resistance or functionality of [the]
phone,” and promises to “work with customers on an individual
basis to address any concerns they may have.” Some users have
reported getting Google to issue a replacement unit due to the
gap. However, the company has yet to provide any information on
why the gaps exist in the first place. It remains to be seen if
there will be a wider effort by Google to correct the issue in
future shipments of the Pixel 5.


Google stealthily
introduced a new feature to its Pixel 5 smartphone that allows
the device to automatically serve as a Qi-based wireless charger
whenever it is plugged into a power supply. A support page discovered by 9to5Google shows that
whenever the Pixel 5 is plugged in, its systems automatically
activate its “Battery Share” mode, which allows users to charge
other Qi-based devices by placing them against the back of the
smartphone. According to the support page, the feature is only
activated “for a short period.” 30 seconds later, if a device is
not placed against the Pixel 5 to charge, Battery Share is
deactivated to save power draw. Similarly, if the device being
charged by the Pixel 5 reaches full capacity, Battery Share will
also switch off to save power. It should be noted that the
Battery Share feature can also be activated manually at any time,
regardless of whether or not the Pixel 5 itself is plugged in.


A law firm that provides Google with I-9 employment
verification compliance services says the personal information of
some company employees was compromised in a recent data
breach. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, which specializes
in immigration law, discovered that an unauthorized third-party
accessed a file in early July containing personal information on
a “limited number” of current and former Google employees. TechCrunch reports that the company did not
say exactly what data was compromised or how many employees
were affected. A notice was filed with the California attorney
general’s office, however, which is required if more than 500 of
the state’s residents are affected by a breach. Although it was
not stated that I-9 forms were accessed, the high-value data they
contain – including passport information, ID cards, driver’s
licenses, and other personally identifiable information – make
them a tempting target for cybercriminals.


Google updated the
mobile Web version of its YouTube streaming video
Web site. Changes in this new version include the ability swipe
up or down to switch in and out of full-screen mode, direct
access to the closed captioning button within the player,
suggestions to help watchers optimize their viewing experience,
and more responsive controls. Google also previewed other
features that it plans to bring to its mobile Web site, including
bedtime reminders for younger viewers and the ability to jump to
specific chapters within videos that support it. No timeframe was
given for when these additional features may be available.


Google‘s newest
release of its Chrome browser includes five security updates, including a
patch for a zero-day vulnerability in its Freetype font rendering
library. Details of the bug have not been released, although the
company says it is a heap buffer overflow issue and it is aware
of reports that an exploit exists in the wild. Google often
restricts access to bug details until a majority of users are
updated with a fix or if the bug is known to exist in third party
libraries but has not yet been remediated.


In a move that may be related to its recent investment in
security firm ADT, Google
has discontinued its Google Nest Secure smart home alarm
system. The Nest Secure system was introduced in 2017 with a
$499 price point, which was dropped to $399 less than a year
later. The modular system, featuring a central hub and sensors
around the home, could communicate with Google Assistant or be
accessed via a mobile app to get alerts or disarm the system
remotely. “Google Nest will no longer be producing Nest Secure,
however we will continue to support our security users in all the
same ways,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. In August
2020, Google made a $450 million investment in ADT, with Nest
devices said to “become the cornerstone of ADT’s smart home


Chinese state-sponsored hackers trying to disrupt the 2020 US
presidential election have been faking antivirus software to
spread their own malware. Google‘s Threat Analysis
Group issued a blog post saying that APT31 impersonated
McAfee threat prevention software in order to trick campaign
workers into installing malware. “While the software was a real
copy stored in GitHub, the ploy would quietly install malware in
the background.” A successful attack would let intruders run
arbitrary commands as well as transfer files. Google also says it
disrupted a large-scale spam network trying to influence opinion
in the US via YouTube videos (some from hijacked channels) with
“clumsy translations and computer-generated voices.” Google said
it removed more than 3,000 channels and that the effort did not
have any practical reach. The researchers note that there have
not been any “significant” coordinated influence campaigns on its
various platforms aimed at US voters.


Google has reportedly
begun rolling out a test version of the Google Assistant Driving
Mode. This feature, which it previewed at Google I/O 2019 in May
of last year, offers a substitute for the Android Auto app. In breaking the story, XDA noted that it
recently “discovered evidence” linking the feature to the new
“navigation UI in the Google Maps app.” The element is reportedly
available in the Google Assistant settings area of Maps’
Navigation Settings, having been updated on some devices to say
“manage driving mode.” Tapping this area, XDA noted, would
activate a new driving mode settings page. The navigation
interface cannot be disabled from this area, it was noted, and
seemingly cannot be activated via voice command. XDA stated that
it believes the function is enabled on “several” devices but does
not appear to be linked to any particular version of Google Maps.
“It’s possible that Google is still running A/B tests for the
UI,” the news outlet speculated, or that Google has otherwise
“significantly changed the interface” since its year-ago
announcement. Google has not yet commented on the rumor.


Google‘s YouTube streaming video
platform announced a major change to its policies on potentially
harmful conspiracy theories in a new blog post. According to the company, the
new crackdown focuses on “content that targets an individual or
group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify
real-world violence.” Google specifically named both QAnon and
the related Pizzagate incident as examples of this, with YouTube
apparently having already removed hundreds of channels and
thousands of videos on the QAnon conspiracy. While this will
likely come as a welcome move for those concerned that such
conspiracies could result in real public harm, some may be
unhappy that Google chose not to completely ban such content
from its platforms, regardless of whether or not it targets
specific individuals or groups. This news comes after both
Facebook and Twitter have both issued their own bans on the
QAnon conspiracy.


Nokia and Google announced the creation
of a new, five-year strategic collaboration that will see Nokia
migrating its entire IT infrastructure to the Google Cloud. The
global transition will impact Nokia’s data centers and servers,
as well as various managed software services of its own. The
telecom hardware company claims the agreement will help its
operations by accelerating “cost optimization, efficiency, and
operational reliability.” The service deployments involved in the
transition have already begun, and are expected to take somewhere
between 18 and 24 months. No financial terms for the agreement
were disclosed.


Google announced its
first major update to the AI-based Google Duplex platform. For
the first time since its 2018 launch, the digital assistant
gained a new ability: the option to have it book appointments for
haircuts on the user’s behalf. Duplex launched in 2018 with the
sole option to have it place calls to make restaurant
reservations. Now, users can ask the Assistant-based technology
to call barbers and hairdressers to schedule an appointment by
telling their device what date and time they would like the
appointment to take place, including support for a range of
times, if the user is flexible. It should be noted that, while
the digital AI can communicate conversationally with hair
establishments, it still only supports three basic appointment
types: men’s appointments, women’s appointments, and general
appointments. The new Duplex feature is rolling out now and is
expected to reach all users in the coming weeks.


Google announced it
will institute new security alerts for critical issues affecting
individual Google accounts, such as hacking attempts, with the
alert displayed in whichever Google app is currently being used.
“When we detect a serious Google Account security issue, we’ll
automatically display an alert within the Google app you’re using
and help you address it – no need to check email or your phone’s
alerts,” the company said in a blog post. The alert icon will
appear next to the user’s avatar and clicking on it will take the
user to a “critical security alert” page that will provide an
explanation of why the alert was issued. Google also says, “The
new alerts are resistant to spoofing, so you can always be sure
they’re coming from us.” The notification system is based on the
company’s experience providing warnings sent through Android.
Following the institution of that system, the company realized,
“We saw a 20-fold increase in the number of people that engaged
with these new notifications within an hour of receiving them,
compared to email.” Google will begin a limited roll out in the
coming weeks with plans to expand more broadly early next year.


Reacting to recent controversies surrounding Apple and Google app selling policies, Microsoft announced a set of ten
that will guide interactions with developers and
consumers in its Microsoft Store on Windows 10. Among the rules
are “Developers will have the freedom to choose whether to
distribute their apps for Windows through our app store. We will
not block competing app stores on Windows” and “Our app store
will charge reasonable fees that reflect the competition we face
from other app stores on Windows and will not force a developer
to sell within its app anything it doesn’t want to sell.” The
company says its guidelines are built “on the ideas and work” of
the Coalition for App Fairness, a group recently established by
Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group, each of whom has had
public arguments with Apple and/or Google over regulations for
the distribution of apps.


Google has begun
directly selling
specialized, unlocked versions of Samsung‘s next-gen Galaxy
variants for use with its Fi service. Availability includes the
Galaxy Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra 5G, S20 5G, S20+ 5G, S20 Ultra
5G, and A71 5G. Google Fi’s service includes access to T-Mobile 5G connectivity,
nationwide, to support voice calls, texting, and data access, in
addition to full HD 1080p video calling. As part of the
announcement, Google noted that it will offer credits of
$150-$300 when purchasing a device and activating it on Fi’s
network. A full list of supported handsets – which can either be
purchased outright from the site or unlocked to support T-Mobile – is available via the
Google Fi Web site.


Google introduced a
series of new updates designed to secure the accounts of its
mobile app users. With this change, Google will now inform users
of any “critical” security issues by surfacing a notification
inside any Google-branded app that the user is currently running.
This means that its more likely users will receive prompt and
effective notification of issues with their account, since the
notices can now appear within any Google app. In addition to this
security measure, Google also introduced a pair of
privacy-focused updates, the first of which is a new Guest mode
for Google Assistant that will essentially function as an
Incognito Mode for Assistant requests, allowing the user to issue
queries without the content being saved to their history. This
will be joined by a new option to manually edit the user’s
location history through the Timeline portion of their account
controls. Google expects this final option to help users add
missing locations and prevent unwanted tracking of their
whereabouts. All aforementioned features will roll out to all
users in the coming weeks.


Google‘s latest update
to the mobile version of its Chrome app for Android and iOS,
Chrome 86, introduces a variety of security-focused features
to the browser app. Coming to iOS and Android for the first time
is Safety Check, a feature that alerts users when their passwords
have been compromised, directing them to the appropriate “change
password” page. This will be joined by Enhanced Safe Browsing on
the Android version of Chrome, though not the iOS edition. This
additional layer of security shares data with Google in real-time
to proactively check for malware and phishing scams embedded in
web pages and downloads. Lastly, the Android version of Chrome
86 also includes “mixed form warnings,” which prevent users from
unknowingly entering their information within unsecured forms
displayed as part of encrypted Web pages. Chrome 86 is available
now for iOS and Android via each platform’s official app store.


In yet another indicator of the amount of time people are
spending with their screens during the pandemic, consumer
expenditures on mobile apps reached a record high in the third
quarter of 2020, according to new analysis from App Annie. Smartphone
and tablet users spent a record $28 billion in apps, a 20 percent
year-over-year increase, with a total of 33 billion new apps
downloaded globally. App Annie also estimates that 180 billion
hours per month are being spent interacting with apps, a 25
percent increase Y-O-Y. Apple‘s iOS accounted for
nearly 9 billion downloads – up 20 percent from the year-ago
analysis – while Google
Play downloads grew 10 percent to 25 billion. TechCrunch
points out that some of the download growth can be tied directly
to the pandemic. “As US consumers turned to the outdoors to find
activities amid lockdowns and business closures, Travel,
Navigation and Weather apps all saw strong growth of 50 percent,
25 percent and 15 percent, respectively.”


Google has unveiled a
new program to manage and resolve security issues affecting
third-party Android devices and software produced by original
equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The Android Partner
Vulnerability Initiative (APVI) will include popular Android
devices from manufacturers such as ZTE, Xiaomi, and Huawei to
give users more security information if any issues are detected.
While the company releases information on vulnerabilities within
the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code, “until recently, we
didn’t have a clear way to process Google-discovered security
issues outside of AOSP code that are unique to a much smaller
set of specific Android OEMs. The APVI aims to close this gap,
adding another layer of security for this targeted set of Android
OEMs.” The company says that APVI has already processed a
number of security issues relating to permissions bypasses,
execution of code in the kernel, credential leaks, and generation
of unencrypted backups. Google-discovered vulnerabilities will be
publicly disclosed on Google’s Chromium portal.


Alliances and Joint Ventures

Ericsson announced
a partnership with Google
Cloud under which the companies will jointly develop 5G and edge
cloud solutions to “help communications services providers (CSPs)
digitally transform and to unlock new enterprise and consumer use
cases.” The duo plans to collaboratively explore these solutions
at Ericsson’s Silicon Valley D-15 Labs, where it can test
products and services on a “live, multilayers 5G platform.” The
pair already committed to trialing this jointly-developed
technology with Italian CSP TIM, with plans to “automate the
functions of TIM’s core 5G network and cloud-based applications,”
and to combine “TIM’s Telco Cloud infrastructure, Google Cloud
solutions and Ericsson’s 5G core network and orchestration
technologies.” This new announcement builds on a previous
collaboration under which Ericsson and Google committed to
co-develop operator networks and application migration solutions
using cloud-native, container-based solutions.


AMD and Google Cloud announced the
T2D, which is part of the new family of Tau VMs (virtual
machines). The T2D offering is powered by 3rd Gen AMD EPYC
processors, and is designed to support Web server, containerized
microservice, data logging-processing, and large-scale Java
application workloads. T2D instances will be available in the
third quarter, with a preview now available.


AT&T announced that it will
offer subscribers to its unlimited 5G plans and those on its AT&T
Fiber home broadband services access to 6 months of Google Stadia Pro, the search
giant’s streaming game service. Qualifying customers will be able
to stream the full Stadia gaming library for six months, after
which they will be billed at the standard $9.99 per month. New
Stadia users taking advantage of this offer will also be eligible
to purchase a discounted Stadia Controller and Chromecast Ultra
bundle for $19.99. It should be noted that an active unlimited
plan with 5G access, or a subscription to AT&T’s 300Mbps,
500Mbps or 1 GIG speed plan is required for eligibility.
Additional details can be found within AT&T’s press


NCR and Google Cloud established a global strategic partnership. This deal will see NCR expand cloud availability for its Digital Banking software portfolio.


Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Fastly announced the official
incorporation and expansion of their 2019 Bytecode Alliance. This
cross-industry partnership will work to “advance a vision for
fast, secure, and simplified software development based on
WebAssembly.” Mozilla developed WebAssembly to support Web
growth beyond JavaScript. The announcement follows a round of
technical efforts to support adequate scale. New members,
effective immediately, include Google, ARM, DFINITY Foundation,
Embark Studios, Shopify, and the University of California, San


Siemens and Google Cloud established an
agreement to cooperate on AI (artificial intelligence)-based
technology to support industrial manufacturing. This
collaboration will focus on promoting scaled AI deployments to
optimize factory processes and bolster productivity.
Specifically, Siemens will integrate Google Cloud data cloud and
AI / ML (machine-learning) tech within its own factory automation
product set.


T-Mobile announced a
multi-faceted deal with Google that will see the search
giant becoming the default provider for multiple third-party
services used by T-Mobile customers. First, Google’s Messages
app will now ship as the default text messaging solution on all
T-Mobile-Branded Android smartphones. The carrier noted that it
chose Google’s take on an SMS application due to its support for
RCS (Rich Communication Services) capabilities such as higher
quality image and video transmission, read receipts, and dynamic
group chats. Meanwhile, T-Mobile also revealed that it will wind
down its attempts at an in-house live TV service–Live, Live +,
and Live Zone–on April 29. In their place, T-Mobile will offer a
$10 discount to anyone wishing to subscribe to Google’s YouTube
TV service through the carrier, bringing its starting price down
to $54.99 per month. YouTube TV will also now be prominently
featured in T-Mobile’s TVision HUB streaming video service.
Additional details about the new collaboration can be found
within T-Mobile’s press release on the matter.


Google has reportedly
established the Android Ready SE Alliance. According to
9to5Google, this group will
work specifically to promote the adoption and use of digital keys
and mobile IDs. In particular, it will work toward developing
“tamper-resistant” device hardware that could replace unrelated
items such as digital keys, mobile driver’s licenses, ePassports,
and eMoney solutions. 9to5Google noted that such technology
requires the use of specialized hardware – such as Pixel’s Titan
M chip – for supporting key “Strongbox” storage within Android
apps. Group partners such as Giesecke+Devrient, Kigen, NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Thales will work with
Google to create open-source, validated SE Applets – including
StrongBox for SE – that are “qualified and ready to use” by OEM


Nokia announced a
partnership with Google‘s
Google Cloud division under which the duo will “develop new,
cloud-based 5G radio solutions.” The companies plan to leverage
Nokia’s Radio Access Network (RAN), Open RAN, Cloud RAN
(vRAN), and edge cloud technologies alongside Google’s edge
computing platform and applications ecosystem. Nokia and Google
noted that their initial collaborative research is already
underway at Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland. No timeframe
was provided for when the first fruits of this joint labor may
reach the market.


Intel and Google Cloud forged a
collaboration agreement toward developing telecommunications
cloud reference and integrated solutions for accelerating 5G
deployment across multiple network and edge locations. The
partnership spans technology for deploying virtualized RAN (radio
access network) and open RAN solutions; launching new lab
environments; and facilitating delivery of business applications
to the network edge. The partnership is regarded as an
“important” step in Intel’s journey to “transform the 5G


Microsoft, Amazon
Web Services (AWS), Google, Huawei, and Mozilla established themselves
as founding members of the Rust Foundation.
This independent organization was established to steward the Rust
programming language and ecosystem, in addition to supporting
Rust’s maintainers.


Google has entered into
a new, six-year strategic
with Ford Motor Company. Not only will Google
serve as Ford’s preferred cloud provider, the car company will
also introduce the search giant’s Android Auto platform into its
Ford and Lincoln-branded vehicles. This will give drivers and
passengers access to Google apps, such as Assistant and Maps,
directly embedded into in-car infotainment systems. The pair also
plan to establish a collaborative workgroup, dubbed Team Upshift,
to develop joint ventures and “push the boundaries of
modernization, unlocking personalized customer experiences, and
driving disruptive data driven opportunities.” No financial terms
for the partnership were disclosed.


Intel and Google Cloud established a
partnership with the National
Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program
. This
agreement will focus on improving general population health by
making bio-medical data from under-represented groups available
to COVID-19 researchers, nationwide, via the Researcher


Qualcomm and Google announced a
collaboration designed to enhance and extend Project Treble in
order to enable more devices with Snapdragon mobile platforms to
run the latest Android OS. The enhancements are intended to
enable OEMs to upgrade Snapdragon-based devices without having
to modify Qualcomm’s chipset-specific software.


Google and Samsung announced a new
collaboration focused on their respective smart home platforms.
Under the terms of their alliance, Google’s portfolio of
Nest-branded products will become part of Samsung’s SmartThings
ecosystem. This means that all Nest thermostats, cameras, and
doorbells will gain the “Works With SmartThings” (WWST) certified
designation, allowing users to interact with them through
Samsung’s smart home platform and apps, and allowing the
devices to interact with other WWST certified devices. The new
interactivity is expected to be available in January 2021.


Intel and Google Cloud forged a collaboration agreement
aimed at simplifying hybrid- and multi-cloud deployments. The
companies co-developed a set of reference architectures for the
“Anthos on bare metal” solution, for streamlining the process of
adopting and deploying “cloud-first” business models on existing
on-premise and self-managed hardware. Anthos on bare metal
helps expedite cloud-based infrastructure, targeting processor
features for migrating containerized applications between common
architectures, within different cloud environments.


Personnel and Organizational

Google revealed plans
to open its first retail location within Manhattan’s Chelsea
district. The store will be part of Google’s urban campus in the
region, and will carry items from Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit.
Customers can purchase items within the store, or for delivery.
Google notes that it will be following strict social distancing
and health and safety guidelines within the location during the
ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


A leading artificial intelligence scientist has moved from Google to Apple, joining other
high-profile AI experts who previously made the move to
Cupertino. Samy Bengio, who worked at Google for 14 years, is
expected to lead a new AI research unit at Apple, according to Reuters, reporting to John Giannandrea. Giannandrea himself made
the switch from Google in 2018 to become Apple’s vice president
of machine learning and AI strategy. Bengio’s decision comes as
Google’s AI efforts are undergoing a shakeup following the firing
of two AI ethics researchers. Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell,
who reported to Bengio, were let go after raising concerns about
diversity and the company’s approach to ethical considerations in
the AI field. Bengio had voiced support for the two and announced
that he would be leaving Google for “other exciting
opportunities” before the news of his joining Apple broke.


Google is reportedly considering its own take on Apple‘s Anti-Tracking feature.
According to Bloomberg, citing “people
familiar with the matter,” the Android developer is “internally”
discussing methods for limiting data collection and cross-app
tracking, albeit in a way that is “less stringent” than Apple’s
option. Per sources, Google is seeking to “balance” growing
privacy demands with developers’ and advertisers’ financial aims.
The Android maker is reportedly soliciting input from all parties
regarding an official guide that is comparable to its Privacy
Sandbox Web browsing standard.



Google parent company
Alphabet posted its financial results for the first
quarter of the 2021 fiscal year. For the period, the company’s
revenue was $55.31 billion, up significantly from the year-ago
quarter’s $41.16 billion. The driving forces behind this growth
were a rebound in the company’s online advertising businesses,
which had waned somewhat during the early day of the ongoing
COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a rise in the search giant’s
Services revenue, which resulted from increased sales of products
via the Google Play, G Suite, and Google One storefronts. The
boost in Services was almost certainly due to the increase in
both those downloading at-home entertainment, and those signing
up for work-from-home services. All of these factors combined to
produce a net income of $17.93 billion, up steeply from the $6.83
billion posted for the year-ago quarter. The resulting earnings
per share amounted to $26.29, up from the $9.87 reported one year


Google parent company
Alphabet posted its financial
results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2020. For the
final quarter, the search giant saw revenues of $56.89 billion,
the vast majority of which ($52.87 billion) was derived from its
“Google Services” segment, which includes desktop and mobile
ads, Android, Chrome, and Google Maps, among other products.
This is a major increase over the $46 billion total revenue and
$43.2 billion in Services revenue for the year-ago quarter. Net
income for the period was $15.22 billion, or $22.30 per share,
compared to the $10.67 billion, or $15.35 per share posted one
year ago. Alphabet Chief financial officer Ruth Porat noted in a
statement that the final quarter’s successes were “driven by
Search and YouTube, as consumer and business activity recovered
from earlier in the year.” For the year, Alphabet’s revenues
totaled $182.53 billion, a major jump from 2019’s $161.86
billion. Net income here was $40.27 billion, or $59.19 per share,
compared to the previous year’s $34.3 billion, or $49.49 per


Legal News

Google is under fire for
allegedly undertaking a concerted effort to make it harder for
users to access the privacy settings within Android by pushing
those options deeper into the operating system’s menus. According
to a Business
newly unredacted documents involved in the search giant’s
antitrust lawsuit in Arizona show that workers were instructed to
complicate the process of accessing the privacy controls for
users. The report claims the company saw the ease with which
users could make their location and activities private as a
“problem,” and that it pressured third-party Android device
makers to similarly bury their privacy options deep within system
menus. It should be noted that this source involves an
investigation that Google previously said has “mischaracterized”
its services in the past. The company had not responded to this
specific accusation at the time of writing.


The US Supreme
has ruled in Google‘s
favor in its years-long legal battle with Oracle. The court ruled 6-2 in
favor of Google’s claim that it did not violate copyright law by
copying Java SE API components. The code in question has served
as a basic component of Google’s Android mobile operating system
since its inception. Google’s defense of its fair use has been
ongoing for the better part of a decade, with victories and
losses on both sides. This latest decision may finally exhaust
all of Oracle’s legal avenues for seeking compensation. Oracle’s
general counsel released a statement on the decision, saying
“[Google] stole Java and spent a decade litigating as only a
monopolist can. This behavior is exactly why regulatory
authorities around the world and in the United States are
examining Google’s business practices.”


Mozilla weighed in on a
recent US Supreme Court ruling regarding the “fair use” of
re-implementing API (application programming interface), a case
contested between Google
and Oracle. The court noted
that such practices should be allowed in cases where developers
are re-implementing it to “enable interoperability” or “allow
developers to use familiar commands.” In a
, Mozfilla noted that it is “pleased that the
Supreme Court has reached this decision,” as it believes that
“copyright will no longer stand in the way of software developers
reimplementing APIs in socially, technologically, and
economically beneficial ways.”


Google has signed an agreement with French news publishers that will allow
the search giant to pay for content used within preview snippets
in its news section, Reuters reported. The deal
was the result of pressure applied by French regulators last
year, which resulted in Google temporarily disabling news
snippets in the European country. Under the terms of the
agreement, Google will now be able to continue publishing its
snippets, while the participating news agencies will gain access
to Google’s News Showcase. Google had been extremely reluctant
to pay news publishers for content, likely due to the precedent
it would set for France and the rest of the world. Google has
largely benefited from aggregating third-party news content that
it can access for free. It remains to be seen how this deal will
affect the company’s continued free access to news content around
the globe.


The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has finally filed its
long-expected suit against Google over its alleged
violation of US anti-trust laws. The federal case focuses on two
main areas: Google’s supposedly monopolistic control of search
services on the Internet, and its handling of pre-loaded
applications and services on its Android mobile operating system.
To the first point, the DOJ takes issue with Google’s involvement
in around 90 percent of all searches performed on the Web,
calling the company a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet.” The
DOJ blames this dominance on paid agreements with Apple, and
other device makers which position Google as the default search
engine within desktop and mobile browsers pre-installed on
millions of devices. This alleged violation bleeds into the
latter accusation in the suit, that Google is giving itself an
unfair advantage by positioning its search and other services as
the default choice on Android-based smartphones and tablets. This
filing echoes similar actions taken against Microsoft by the
federal government over its placement of Internet Explorer as the
default Web browser for the Windows operating system. For its
part, Google has called the case a “deeply flawed lawsuit that
would do nothing to help consumers,” claiming in a blog post that “People use Google because they
choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t
find alternatives.” This, of course, does not agree with the
DOJ’s assertions that Google spends billions of dollars per year
to “secure default status for its general search engine and, in
many cases, to specifically prohibit Google’s counterparties from
dealing with Google’s competitors.” US legislators have, so far,
not proposed a specific punishment for Google’s actions, although
a fine or legal mandate that it break up its businesses, are the
likeliest outcomes. That said, it is likely the case will be
contested in court for many months, if not years, before any
final outcome is known.



The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has
launched a formal probe into Amazon and Google over concerns that they
have not been forceful in policing against fake product reviews.
The regulator says it is investigating whether the companies have
taken sufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.
Failure to do so would be a violation of British consumer law. In
addition, the probe will examine whether the companies penalize
reviewers or firms to deter them from posting misleading scores.
The CMA expressed concern that Amazon’s systems have been
failing to adequately prevent and deter some sellers from
manipulating product listings – for example, by co-opting
positive reviews from other products. “Fake and misleading
reviews have the potential to impact on businesses’ star ratings
and how prominently companies and products are displayed to
consumers, changing their whole shopping experience,” the
organization noted in its announcement. In January
2020, the CMA reached an agreement with Facebook and EBay to remove groups dealing
in false and misleading reviews and to make systemic changes that
would identify, remove, and prevent such content from appearing
on its platforms.


Taking aim at the country’s major tech companies, the US
House of Representatives unveiled five new bills that lawmakers
say will address competition and antitrust concerns. The
bipartisan agenda of legislation comes as a result of the House’s
Antitrust Subcommittee investigation into the business practices
of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google. One of the main
proposals as outlined in a House press release would directly affect Amazon,
possibly resulting in the separation its online marketplace from
its branded product lines. Titled the “Ending Platform Monopolies
Act,” the bill would make it unlawful for an online platform to
own a business that “utilizes the covered platform for the sale
or provision of products or services” or that sells services as a
condition for access to the platform. If passed, Amazon would
have to separate its online presence into one site that sells
goods by third-parties and another focusing on its own products.
Other options would include divesting or shutting down its
private-label division. The other pieces of legislation include
the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” that prohibits
discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms; the “Platform
Competition and Opportunity Act” forbidding the acquisition of
competing companies by dominant platforms; the “Augmenting
Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching
(ACCESS) Act” that would promote online competition by lowering
barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and
consumers through interoperability and data portability
requirements; and the “Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act” to
update filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades.
This would provide additional resources to the Department of
Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to aggressively enforce
antitrust laws.


Mozilla and Google have filed a joint submission to the
public consultation on amending the government of Mauritius’ ICT
(Information and Communications Technology) Act. In particular,
Mozilla noted that the ICT Act could deploy a “new technical
toolset” to intercept, decrypt, archive, and inspect / block
https traffic between a local user’s Internet device and Internet
services. It is these measures that Mozilla believes could “place
the privacy and security of Internet users … at grave risk.”


The US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on
Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights held a hearing
focused on app marketplaces with representatives from Spotify, Match Group, and Tile describing how Apple‘s App Store and the Google Play Store abuse their
market power. Much of the testimony focused on store policies,
particularly the 30 percent mandatory cut the store owners take
on sales. Match, developer of the popular Tinder dating app, said
it annually pays nearly $500 million in fees to the app stores,
which is the company’s single largest expense. Spotify contends
that Apple has a long history of “using App Store policies to
handicap Spotify and benefit Apple Music,” while Tile took aim at
the newly announced AirTags device tracker, saying its close
integration with iPhone and the iOS operating system is an
example of how Apple can “enter the market” and “take it over.”
Apple and Google countered that the tight control over their
stores and the associated revenue-sharing are needed to enforce
and pay for security measures to guard against harmful apps and
practices. “But when asked by Senator Josh Hawley, Apple’s Chief
Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer would not commit to spending all
of the mandatory fees on security,” according to Reuters.


The US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to
formally approve an official committee report that could
eventually serve as a blueprint for legislative action against
the anticompetitive practices of Big Tech companies. The 400-page
report was approved by a 24-17 vote that split along party lines,
according to Reuters. “Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook each hold
monopoly power over significant sectors of our economy. This
monopoly moment must end,” Rep. David Cicilline (D. – Rhode
Island) said in a statement. “Now that the Judiciary Committee
has formally adopted our findings, I look forward to crafting
legislation that addresses the significant concerns we have
raised.” The House report includes proposals for increasing the
budgets and powers of regulators and antitrust agencies, but also
includes a measure seemingly aimed directly at Amazon that
would bar companies from selling their own products on
e-commerce platforms they operate.


The CEOs for Facebook, Google, and Twitter are set to
before Congress, per CNBC, to “discuss
misinformation” and “defend the liability shield that helped
establish the industry.” As noted by Facebook, the House Energy and
Commerce Committee
is examining the tech platforms’
response to misinformation as a “single challenge that can be
solved.” Of note, Facebook revealed that it has disabled “more
than 1.3 billion” “fake” accounts in the last three months of
2020 alone; made efforts to take down covert foreign and domestic
influence operations; and cracked down on deceptive behavior.


Apple gained a victory
when proposed legislation that would have fundamentally changed
how its App Store operates was defeated by the North Dakota state
senate. The lawmakers voted 36-11 against a bill that would have
required the App Store and Google Play to allow software
developers to use their own payment processing software to avoid
the fees charged by the store managers. Testifying before the
legislature, Apple official Erik Neuenschwander stated that, if
passed, the bill would “destroy iPhone as you know it.” 9to5mac learned that the draft of
the legislation was given to one of the senators by a lobbyist
for Epic Games – the Fortnite video game publisher that is
currently in a legal battle with Apple and Google over their app
store policies and how in-app purchases are made. Prior to the
vote, Senator Jerry Klein, an opponent of the bill, contended
that “North Dakota is not the place to settle a dispute between
companies on what the commission rates or payment systems
should be.”


France’s data privacy regulating agency CNIL has fined Google and Amazon for the way they
manage cookies on computers. Google was hit with a 100 million
euro fine (approximately $121 million) while Amazon was levied 35
million euro (more than $42 million). The companies were given a
three-month period to make changes in how they inform users of
their tracking software or face additional fines of 100,000 euro
daily. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google plans to appeal
the fines. An Amazon spokesperson said the company disagrees
with CNIL’s assessment but would not say if an appeal is in the
works. The fines were imposed under the long-standing ePrivacy
directive, which France has used to implement strict consent
rules for the placement of cookies on devices.


The top executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter appeared virtually at a US
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing
to ostensibly talk about changes to the Section 230 regulation
that protects technology companies from lawsuits related to
third-party content posted on their platforms. But Mark
Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey instead faced
Republican criticisms of bias against conservative voices, while
Democrats wanted to know what the platforms are doing to crack
down on online hate speech and how to protect the country from
disinformation and election interference. In what N
describes as “one of the hearing’s most theatrical
moments,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) “bellowed” at Twitter’s CEO,
“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of
what the media are allowed to report and what the American people
are allowed to hear?” Regarding Section 230, Dorsey and Pichai
maintained that the law should be preserved and allow companies
to set their own content moderation policies, which would protect
startup companies from frivolous lawsuits. But Zuckerberg broke
with the other tech leaders, saying that “Congress should update
the law to make sure it’s working as intended,” but “make sure
that any changes do not have unintended consequences that stifle
expression or impede innovation.”


The US Department of Justice (JoD) and state prosecutors who
have been investigating Google over antitrust issues
are considering making the tech giant divest of its Chrome
browser and parts of the advertising business it controls. Talk
about breaking up the company come amid preparations for an
antitrust legal battle that the DoJ is expected to begin in the
coming weeks. Politico says that
prosecutors have asked ad technology experts, industry rivals,
and media publishers for potential steps to weaken Google’s grip
on $162.3B global digital market. The lawyers also sought
opinions on other Google properties that should be targeted for
potential sale – leading some to single out the browser,
Politico’s sources stated. If the plan is carried through, it
would be the first court-ordered break-up of a US company in
decades. The DoJ is also said to be preparing a separate
antitrust suit accusing Google of abusing its control of the
online search market. That suit could be filed within the coming


The European Union (EU) is expected to designate a number of
specific large technology companies as candidates for stronger
regulatory oversight. Sources told the Financial Times that approximately twenty of the
most prominent high tech firms, potentially including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google, could be facing new
and tougher rules aimed at curbing their market power. Under the
proposal, the companies would have to share data with rivals and
be more transparent on how they gather information. While the
precise number of companies and the exact criteria for
determining who would be required to follow any new rules are
still being discussed, the decisions could be based on parameters
like market share and number of users.


A Democratic staff report for the US House of
Representatives antitrust subcommittee investigating major
technology companies says that the four tech giants – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google – enjoy “monopoly
power” and that antitrust laws need changes that could result in
business separations. The report’s recommendations focused on
three areas of remediation: Restoring competition in the digital
economy, strengthening antitrust laws, and revving antitrust
enforcement. Republicans on the committee did not sign on to the
report and stated that, while they also have concerns about the
companies’ operations, they disagree with some of the
wide-ranging policy recommendations. Amazon issued a statement
in response to the report, saying, “All large organizations
attract the attention of regulators, and we welcome that
scrutiny. But large companies are not dominant by definition, and
the presumption that success can only be the result of
anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong.”



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About the Author

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Michael Gariffo is an editor for Faulkner Information Services.
He tracks and writes about enterprise software and the IT services sector, as
well as telecommunications and data networking.

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