Chromebooks from the likes of Acer and Samsung have been on the market for over six months now. In this time, there have there have been reports of these Chrome OS-running netbooks selling very poorly. Google even slashed their prices last month in a bid to spur demand among holiday shoppers. It’s difficult to say how helpful that move has been, if at all. But there is something that will definitely be very helpful for existing Chromebook users looking to do more with their machines while offline.
No sooner did Microsoft settle its antitrust woes with the European union, than it turned around and allegedly threw Google under the very same bus. Up until now little has been known about Redmond's involvement, but ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley has confirmed Microsoft executives have been in contact with EU regulators in recent months about Google's monopolistic position in search. In addition to direct involvement, they even owned up to encouraging others to come forward to register similar complaints. As many commenter's are likely to point out, the irony of Microsoft's complaint isn't lost on us. Based on all the antitrust woes they have been forced to endure in the past, they seem likely a pretty unlikely candidate to spark this debate against Google.
For its part, Microsoft is trying to explain its viewpoint with its "On The Issues Blog", but it's a pretty thick read full of legalese. The closing arguments however do a pretty good job of summing it up. "Microsoft would obviously be among the first to say that leading firms should not be punished for their success. Nor should firms be punished just because a particular business practice may harm a rival-competition on the merits can do that, too. That is a position that Microsoft has long espoused, and we're sticking to it. Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content (like Google Books) and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly."
This could be the start of a very public, very bloody war between Google and Microsoft.
Google has released more information about its upcoming ebook service, called Google Editions. Unlike the Amazon store, which is tied to the Kindle, Google ebooks will be usable on any device. Then new service will feature a selection of in-print books provided by Google’s publishing partners. Google Edition should launch in the first half of 2010 and offer 400,000 to 600,000 books.
Google clarified that the service would not be entirely cloud-based. After obtaining a book the customer could have a cached version for use when no not online. This caching may be done via Google Gears.
Google Editions will utilize three business models. The first will allow consumers to purchase directly from Google Books. This model would give Google a 37% share of the sale, with the rest going to the publisher. The second model would consist of purchases made from partner retailers, with Google getting 55% of the sale. The last model Google is looking at will have customers going directly to a publisher’s website to make purchases. No decisions have been made on the split for this option.
No word yet on any device manufacturers Google plans to partner with. Maybe you should hold off on that Kindle purchase.
First, Brin argues that information unavailable is information wasted. Brin writes that “the vast majority of books ever written are not accessible to anyone except the most tenacious researchers at premier academic libraries. Books written after 1923 quickly disappear into a literary black hole.” Information, such as the 1919 issue of the journal Electrical World’s assessment of the state of electric cars, doesn’t really exist. Digitization can correct that.
Second, paper is temporal. Books are continually being lost to age, improper care, and disasters. Libraries are forever burning: Alexandria, the Library of Congress, and even Stanford University's own libraries. When books burn so to does the collective human wisdom they represent. Digitizing books saves them and the knowledge they contain.
Third, authors are cheated by Google’s project. Brin states this is not so, that authors are able to control the pricing and access of their works in Google Books. And that “orphaned” books will be subject to default rules on pricing and access, accumulating revenues should their authors reappear.
Lastly, Brin tackles the question of competition. Some argue that Google’s efforts would lock others out of the market, effectively creating a Google-controlled monopoly. Not so says Brin because at present no one else wants to do what Google is doing. And, should someone wish to enter the market at a later time they would be free to do so; Google would be unable to prevent it.
A New York judge has set a November deadline for the submission of a new settlement between Google and a group of authors and publishers, the latter of which suedGoogle over its attempt to obtain digital rights to millions of books.
The original settlement between the parties was met with major scrutiny from authors, libraries, and privacy advocates who all claimed that the deal was unfair, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to step in. A hearing on whether to approve proposed settlement was to take place on Wednesday, but was postponed when the two sides asked for more time to hash out a new deal.
Judge Deny Chin has ordered the parties to submit their revised settlement by November 9, with an approval hearing to take place sometime after. This marks the second time the settlement has been delayed since the original agreement was signed last October.
Google announced today that they acquired reCAPTCHA, the popular anti-bot service. reCAPTCHA offers a first line of defense against internet bots that exploit web forms with malicious intent. They are also widely known for their participation in helping to digitize print media formats. No surprises in why Google would be interested in such a project.
ReCAPTCHA advertises that they are currently helping to digitize old print versions of the New York Times. However, it’s not too far a leap to assume Google will be using reCAPTCHAs to bolster its own text scanning efforts (Google Books). Approximately 200 million captchas are solved by humans each day, and each one moves digitizing projects one step closer to improving the way computers recognize words on paper.
“Improving the availability and accessibility of all the information on the Internet is really important to us, so we're looking forward to advancing this technology with the reCAPTCHA team” said Luis von Ahn (co-founder of reCAPTCHA) and Will Cathcart (Google Product manager) on the official Google blog.
Google has announced that over 1 million out-of-copyright books in its online book depositary, Goggle Books, can now be downloaded in the open EPUB format. The move is aimed at making these public domain books more accessible. The EPUB format is supported by an increasing number of devices, including e-readers, netbooks and phones.
“By adding support for EPUB downloads, we're hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places,” Brandon Badger, product manager, Google Books, wrote on the Inside Google Books blog.
The announcement follows on the heels of the unveiling of Sony’s new Reader devices. Recently, Sony announced that the EPUB format will be supported by its upcoming Reader devices: the Pocked Edition, the Touch Edition and the Daily Edition. Google Book users can now choose between the PDF and EPUB formats.
According to the latest entry in Google's blog, the word "magazine" is derived from the Arabic word 'makhazin," meaning storehouse. So what would you call an online storehouse of magazines, both new and old, and accessible for free? We call it a kick-ass idea, one that is now part of Google Book Search.
"Today, we're announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony," Google wrote on its blog.
Fans of Popular Mechanics can peek all the way back in time to May 1872 and read what Rev. T.W. Fowle had to say about Science and Immortality. And then continue to get your geek on by sifting through back issues of Maximum PC, which goes all the way back to October 1998. Who won the Pentium III versus Athlon showdown? The CPU Showdown starts on page 59 of the October 1999 issue.
Google isn't finished adding articles and promises that over time you'll find more and more magazines appear in Google Book Search results. Even still, there's an impressive collection already available and you could easily waste an afternoon, or longer, just digitally flipping through old issues of your favorite rags.