Apple v Google

Apple’s rejection out-of-hand of the Google Voice App has the interwebs all a flutter with rumours and speculation, not to mention fury as well.

Although I’m in the Uk and therefore locked out of a GV account until its released here, I’m looking forward to using it soon. Its no accident that I’m especially looking forward to using it with my iPhone, or i was in any case.

The reason why this is causing such an uproar is that the target market for GV users just happens to overlap rather significantly with that of the iPhone.

The fact is though, Google Apps for Business does not get enough attention these days. In fact, there has been a spate of articles on how Google Apps for Domain falls down when it comes to being a valid option for businesses.  My hope is that Google integrates GV into the suite, giving clear value and functionality for the business user (read: me).

I envision a number of use cases where this could work.

  • Imagine, via GV, a Google Wave, document, spreadsheet or presentation open magically when you answer the call. Not only are you talking to the person, you can collaborate in real time)especially rue of Google Wave).
  • Google Contacts will give caller identity a whole new meaning, even if the callers aren’t already in our address book.
  • In fact, Since this is really a domain oriented service, imagine being able to ring and getting through to reception????

The fact is that Google is positioning Google Apps for Domain to be its integrated business offering.

Microsoft has Office Communication server, which requires built in telephone networks. But has none of the integration opportunities that Google Apps for Domain has.

In fact, it would be worth the money.

If true, the fact is that Apple is obstructing Google’s business plans. No wonder the FCC and the net-neutrality lobby is up in arms.

And if this eWeek article has any truth to it, its because Apple wants to built a similar service for Mobile Me. Its not too far fetched to imagine, and makes logical sense.

Depending on Apples implementation of it (keeping 9n mind the debut of Mobile Me), it may just tempt people away from Google Apps for Domain with GV.

But apple, seriously, if you are going to start acting like this to pre-empt the competition, remember one thing: Out-Innovate Google and you’ve won. It would be a shame for Apple to start acting like Microsoft in the 1990’s.

And what if it was AT&T???? that i can’t answer. But AT&T’s reputation is so battered and bruised with iPhone users, that they may all jump ship to Android and Pre. And even more are going to be jailbreaking to get the app.

This is a state of affairs that benefits no one.

See. I like my iPhone. A lot. Every day I discover some new feature or app that makes it even better. When el Jobso gave his blessing to this device, you can see why. And they have thrown that all away with this one stupid decision.

Or have they??

Apple have a very definite reason for doing this.

I can’t wait to see what it is.

File Sharing- Oh the Humanity!!!

Via Hugh MacLeod – who did a cartoon about this.

The IFPI – the International Federation of Phonographic Industries – is the global music industry organisation whose very name tells you how long ago progress overtook it. On Thursday it published its digital music report for 2008, which says boldly that “the spread of unlicensed music on ISP networks is choking revenues to record companies and investment in artists, despite a healthy increase in digital sales in 2007, up approximately 40% on the previous year”. (If you’re wondering, those sales were $2.9bn (£1.45bn) for the year, including ringtones.)

The IFPI’s solution? Sort it out at the internet service provider level. “ISP cooperation, via systematic disconnection of infringers and the use of filtering technologies, is the most effective way copyright theft can be controlled. Independent estimates say up to 80 per cent of ISP traffic comprises distribution of copyright-infringing files.”

You know what I say? Damn right. Let’s get ISPs to stop copyright infringement. But, um, music people? Better form an orderly queue. You think you were the first to suffer from your content getting ripped off and spread to the four corners of the earth? Get to the back of the line, bud. There’s a few people ahead of you.


Read the rest of this fine article here.

Google Privacy Row – Roundup

Since last night there’s ben a huge row over this report from Privacy International slamming Google over its user privacy policy/practices.

For a taster Mitch Ratcliffe has this to say:

Giving up our privacy for a little Web functionality and storage capacity is like handing over the mining rights to ancestral lands to the first guy who comes along with a better shovel

And he was responding to this :

It’s funny how they know so much about their horrible practices when they even admit Google didn’t respond to their request for information. Certainly that means their practices are the worst on the Internet.

Scoble weighed in by saying:

I was hoping this report was more factual than it looks cause we need to have a real conversation about privacy. If you read the privacy report you should read Danny’s blow-by-blow response to it.

That said, Google’s PR is really stinky. Google isn’t paying attention to what normal people think of it anymore and it’s getting a bad reputation because of that. I heard it slammed over and over again for street-level views on Google Maps and no one from Google responded in most of the mainstream talk shows I heard talking about it. They should have a full-court “feel good” initiative where they have normal everyday citizens come in and meet the engineers, and look at the privacy issues.

Danny Sullivan has a pretty good blow-by-blow account of the report (its a must read):

Overall, looking at just the performance of the best companies PI found shows that Google measures up well — and thus ranking it the worse simply doesn’t seem fair. But the bigger issue is that the report itself doesn’t appear to be as comprehensive or fully researched as it is billed.

Frankly, about the only thing saving Privacy International from many more companies or services being upset over this report is that they singled out Google as the worse. That’s almost guaranteed to make players like Microsoft and Yahoo shut their mouths and point at this silently as vindication they aren’t so bad.

To save itself, I’d like to see Google appoint a privacy czar, someone charged with, as I’ve suggested above, assuming the worst about the company and diligently working to ensure users have as much protection as possible.

All that said, Matt Cutts responds:

Google didn’t leak user queries

In this past year, AOL released millions of raw queries from hundreds of thousands of users. Within days, a journalist had determined the identity of an AOL user from the queries that AOL released. But AOL got a better grade than Google.

Google didn’t give millions of user queries to the Dept. of Justice

In 2005/2006, the Department of Justice sent subpoenas to 34 different companies requesting users’ queries and other data. In fact, the original subpoena requested all queries done by users for two full months. AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo all gave some amount of users’ queries to the Department of Justice. Google fought that subpoena (full disclosure: I filed a declaration in that case). The judge sided with Google; no queries from Google users were given to the DOJ. But Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL got better grades in this report than Google.

Google will anonymize query logs

In March, Google announced that it would begin anonymizing its logs after 18-24 months. Google has continued to communicate on the issue, including a post on the Google blog in May discussing the reasoning behind that decision. In fact, we talk a lot about privacy, from blog posts to Op-Ed pieces in the Financial Times. To the best of my knowledge, no other major search engine has followed suit in a plan to anonymize user logs.

I Don’t think I can really add to all that. Other than the idea that Google is firewalking here. As soon as it makes I really, really clear what its policy is, in detail, and appoints a Privacy Czar, things may well quiet down. Google just has to get used to the idea that this is going to happen more often.

The Mobile Web (and Google)

I don’t use the Mobile web much. In fact, I only use it to check my Google Mail and Reader and started that this weekend. Why only Google Reader and Mail? Because Google offers straight text for its mobile websites. Text is cheaper and faster to download over WAP than pictures.

The mobile websites for both Google services are fantastic, save a few things. Reader doesn’t allow you to share an item (which meant I had to star items I wanted to share and share them later), and its really irritating. The ability to add a post to your Google Notebook is also missing (this arguably should be one of the first things included on both the main and mobile sites). I add posts to my notebook all the time. The Google Reader log in page is the “normal” version and you need to scroll right to get to the log in box.

I did take a look at my own blog from my mobile and came away disappointed. It didn’t look very good. The header scaled down to fit the screen, but the background was all messed up.

For the rest of the websites I visited: GET A MOBILE WEBSITE NOW!

Normal websites viewed on a mobile browser become lists of links that are in the header and the “other interesting articles” sections which not only take time to download, but a heck of a lot of time to scroll down to the content you want to read. Again, irritating.

Now bear in mind, I’m not into doing scientific samples to determine wether this is a widespread problem or not and I’m going from my (limited) weekend browsing.

It wouldn’t take a lot to change. Most sites have CSS styles for printing articles that happen to be mostly text and no pictures and perfect for mobiles. Nokia and the rest probably have some culpability in this. They need to ensure that their browsers work properly and can handle “normal” websites better.

As far as I’m concerned, mobile websites for my websites have been added to the ToDo list for the summer.

Should I try Google Calender on my mobile now?

Net Neutrality

Just read this post on Doc Searls about this.

Basically, the net should be a base service along with telephony and cable ( or, given the rise of VOIP and You Tube, as a service on which telephony and TV/cable runs) .

But that is not always the case simply becuase the wide variety of different companies who own different line networks each  work to keep the others off thier network. Confused? I sympathise. Thst may be the case in the US. Here in the Uk, the issue is slightly simpler, though no less touchy.

Till about 15 years ago, the whole telephone network was nationalised under British Telecommunications ( most other services such as gas and electricity were also nationalised). So today all the physical network  cables are owned by BT. But there is a huge number of companies that offer phone and broadband services. They do this by “buying” x thousand lines from BT every month that they ,in turn, sell to their customers. However, to get things done (i.e. installing an extra phone line or  a braodband line) thoise companies still have to work though BT. So even though the lines are guarenteed to thes carriers by law, BT discourages people from switching by dragging its feet when it comes to sending engineers out.

I know this becuase we just moved house two months ago. BT told us it would take them 3 days max to have our broadband line connected if we went with them. We went with another carrier and it took 6 weeks . In fact the reason why I had no broadband for 6 months was becuase BT dragged its feel replacing the Broadband line.

So, although the little guy might not see this as much of a big deal, business cannot rely on such service and are forced to go with BT in order to guarentee a phone and broadband line.

Doc Searls:

First, the Net is a vast set of connections on which countless services can be deployed. Telephony and television are just two. Because telephone and cable companies offer Internet connections as a secondary “service” on top of their primary businesses, we tend to think of the Net in the same terms. This is a mistake. The Internet will in the long run become a base-level utility, and we will come to regard telephony and television as two among many categories of data supported by that utility.

Second, the end-to-end nature of the Net puts everybody on it in a position to both produce and consume. It is not just about consumption. It is at least as much about production. In the U.S., telephone and cable companies have deployed Net services in asymmetrical and crippled forms from the beginning. While this crippling is easily rationalized (typical usage is asymmetrical, and turning off outbound mail and web service ports discourages spamming), it also serves to discourage countless small and home businesses. Worse, “business-grade service” (symmetrical with no port blockages) is so expensive in most cases that it is essentially prohibited.

Third, most customers in the U.S. face a choice of one or two Internet carriers: their local phone and cable companies. Other providers can only sell services that run on those carriers. (Since the Brand X decision in 2005, phone and cable companies can keep any of these other providers off their lines if they want to.) In many areas (such as mine), only one company provides “high speed” Net access. There is no choice, and there is no competition.