The Bing team has decided that one thing that will help to simplify our day, other than a recipe for chicken marengo, is investment data. In particular, reports for U.S. stocks and funds. According to the Bing Community Blog, all you need do is “enter a ticker in the search box e.g MSFT. Note our "Instant Answer" on top which provides basic data about the firm. If you click on the "Investor Data" tab on the left you go into our finance page.”
And, sure enough, checking out a few company ticker symbols, Bing dutifully reports stock results at/near the top of the search results. (It will appear under sponsored sites, if there are any.)
This addition to Bing already exists on Yahoo!, and, albeit a bit hit-and-miss, on Google. While this will make life “easier” for Bing users, whether it is enough to differentiate Bing from the search engine crowd and attract new users is an open question.
Google hopes, besides you making more use of its search engine, that the Social Search will offer greater confidence in search results. Rather than rely on the “kindness of strangers”, you can get feedback from people you know and trust. You’re doing it now on Facebook and Twitter, so why not do it on Google as well?
For Social Search to work in a meaningful way, you’re going to have to disclose more of yourself to Google. Google says creating/updating your Google profile is a first step. There you can add links to your other public online social services. Google allows options for managing your Social Search network, including adding and deleting members.
Social Search is being rolled out for all signed-in users. Google says it may take a few days before you see the change.
China has denied any involvement with the recent cyberattacks that targeted Google and about 35 other large U.S. corporations, but when it comes to the country's media, China's more than willing to openly go on the offensive.
"It is not difficult to see the shadow of the U.S. government behind the politicization of the Google affair," Communist newspaper, People's Daily, wrote partially in response to Hillary Clinton's defense of Google threatening to shut down service in China. The paper added that American politicians are using Google "in an effort to restrict China's right to protect its national security and interests on the Internet."
These comments come despite the fact that Google continues to filter out content the Chinese government deems "sensitive" and has asked to talk to China about the situation. Naturally, this can only mean one thing:
"Perhaps Google has already realized that China can do without Google, but without China, Google does not have a future," the paper added.
When Google announced that it might be pulling out of China as a result of recent cyberattacks, everyone assumed the Chinese Government was involved in the breach. After all, pulling the plug on the largest customer base of Internet users in the world couldn't have been an easy decision to make, and would have been a bit of an overreaction if the evidence was pointing to a private individual or company. With this in mind however, its important to note that Google hasn't officially implicated the Chinese government in the attacks, and that rumor now stands in stark contrast to a statement issued today by Chinese officials.
The "accusation that the Chinese government participated in (any) cyberattack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China," an unidentified ministry spokesman told Xinhua, according to an Agence France Presse report. "The U.S. has criticized China's policies to administer the Internet and insinuated that China restricts Internet freedom...This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-U.S. relations," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The harsh words quoted above out of Beijing are one of the first public reactions to Hillary Clintons recent lecture on Internet freedom. In her speech Clinton criticized Chinas efforts to censor the country's 384 million web users which she claims are trapped behind "The Great Firewall of China". Clearly the Chinese government was not amused. Google hasn't stopped censoring the results on Google.cn just yet, but CEO Eric Schmidt said on Thursday that it would happen soon.
So is China's blanket denial of any wrong doing good enough for you? Keep this link bookmarked for ongoing coverage of the situation as it unfolds.
Sorry Baidu users, your search engine is down for the count (in parts of the world, anyway), at least for the time being. No, a late night watchman didn't trip over the power cord in a data center, and instead the outage appears to be the work of Iranian hackers.
Baidu, China's most popular search engine with a market share exceeding 77 percent, now shows a page saying "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army." These are the same dudes who also attacked and defaced Twitter just a few weeks ago using the same method: DSN cache poisoning.
Sounds toxic, but rest assured, no chemicals were used. DNS cache poisoning involves corrupting a DNS table by replacing an IP with a malicious address, which in this case is the Iranian Cyber Army page.
In case you missed it, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in an interview on CNBC, seem to suggest that Google’s take on user privacy was pretty much open-ended. Schmidt said “If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.” Some thought this was Google blaming the victim rather than the victimizer. Not the sort of ‘got-your-back’ attitude many would like to see in their search-engine provider.
In addition, Google changed its search-engine privacy settings, to better personalize the experience. One of the changes made is the storing of 180-days of search history in a browser cookie, so Google has a database on which to draw for second-guessing what you want to look for.
In all the hubbub, Mozilla’s Director of Community Development, Asa Dotzler, said that users should drop Google in favor of Bing, which Dotzler said provides better privacy guarantees.
Hot on the heels of the controversy, Bing is touting both its privacy, and changes which enhance that privacy. Bing will now give you greater control over the history of your recent searches with “See all”, “Clear all”, and “Turn Off” options. (In “See all” you can delete individual search requests. “Turn off” lets you disable the history function all together.) In addition, Microsoft will store a maximum of four weeks of searches (up from 48-hours), in a browser cookie.
In the announcement of these changes, Microsoft said “...we've tried to build privacy and respect for your search history into the overall experience and not as an afterthought. Too many systems provide us with choice, but little control.”
The Business Insider is proclaiming that “Bing Crushes Yahoo Again in November”, based on numbers released by comScore for November search-engine performance. But do the numbers reported support this bold statement of success and failure?
According to comScore, search-engine market share broke down like this: Google, 65.6%; Yahoo, 17.5%; Bing, 10.3%; Ask Network, 3.8%; and AOL, 2.8%. (AOL still exists?) This seems to indicate that Yahoo and Bing still occupy the same ordinal ranks they did in October. A little closer, perhaps, but that’s about it. And, if anything, both were crushed by Google.
Maybe it’s the change from October to November that’s the cause for the hyperbole? Google was up 0.2 percentage points, Yahoo down 0.5 percentage points, and Bing up 0.4 percentage points. Yeah, Yahoo lost ground in November, and Bing gained, but the shifts don’t seem all that dramatic. And when you consider year-to-year (Y/Y) differences, Yahoo seems about the same place it was a year ago, with its "core search volume" up 1.1%. Bing is new to the market, so it showed a more dramatic 46% Y/Y increase (even though Bing isn’t yet a year old).
Still, trends for Yahoo seem pointed down, having fallen from a 20.1% market share in May to 17.5% in November, while Bing rose from 8.0% to 10.3%. Percentage-wise those differences may be meaningful. Maybe that justifies the hand-wringing over Yahoo and back-slapping for Bing.
Before getting too excited about the impending demise of Yahoo, it would be nice to see revenue figures for it and Bing. After all, it’s not the number of people using the service that really matters, it’s how much you make off those people that counts.
It may not be flying cars and unisex clothing, but Google’s plans for the future are interesting nonetheless. Emma Barnett, of The Daily Telegraph, sat down with Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of Search Products and User Experience, and reports back some of the things Google has in mind.
Mayer says that Google has three focuses for the future. The first is to better aggregate and integrate the various forms of media available on the internet: text, pictures, video, sound. Searches should be able to access and return results for all forms, so that users aren’t artificially limited to text (or even a particular langage). And the results should be real time (e.g, Google’s real-time web), so that information will be available the moment it’s created.
The second area of focus is mode of access. Integration of various media doesn’t make much sense if it can’t be searched on its own terms. Google Goggles is a new mode, allowing users of Android-based smartphones to capture an image and search for that image on the Internet--no text required. (To assuage privacy concerns, Goggles, at present, doesn’t do faces.)
The last area of focus is personalization. Google would like you to get what you want, and would like to see your efforts doing so minimized. Google’s search engines will ‘learn’ from individuals what information they want, and from where they want it (including more meaningful links with personal social networks). The end result will be a more individualized web experience. (And a diminishment of serendipity?)
Mayer acknowledges that privacy might be an issue, as personalization would require tracking user information for 180-days (unless the user opts-out). She adds that privacy concerns are a bit over-blown, as user information will be cookie-based, which only identifies a particular machine on the web, not a particular user. “We always follow a code of privacy--transparency, choice, and control,” said Mayer, “People can easily opt out.”
If only total dupes fall for click-through advertising on search result pages, and users of Microsoft products are the most likely to click-through, does that mean users of Microsoft products are total dupes? Logically fallacy aside, Microsoft product users might be total dupes, but not for this particular reason.
Chitika, which researches search-targeted advertising, reports that users of Microsoft products are more likely than others to click an ad on a search result page. For example, users of Bing are 75% more likely to click an ad than users of Google. And users of Internet Explorer are 50% more likely than Safari users, and 80% more likely than Chrome users to click an ad. Overall, Windows users are twice as likely as Linux and Mac users to click an ad.
So users of Microsoft products are gullible dupes--easy prey for the mavens of click-through advertising, right? Hardly. In this case the percentage differences are accurate, but the actual click-through rates for all platforms are so low the differences are probably meaningless. For example, 99.85% of Internet Explorer users don’t click-through, compared with 99.34% of Firefox users, 99.50% of Safari users, and 99.79% of Chrome users. In other words, percentage-wise, hardly anyone, regardless of browser, clicks-through. The pattern for operating systems is similar--in all three cases: Windows, Linux, and Mac, more than 99% don’t click-through.
Given the general nature of Microsoft product users--in all fairness it’s a lot more diverse a population than Linux or Mac users--Microsoft product users seem to be doing pretty well in these relative comparisons. Furthermore, there’s nothing here to suggest they are any more or less susceptible to click-through ads than anyone else.
Hard to say what point, exactly, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was trying to make in his appearance on CNBC, but his words have struck an angry cord with some in the tech community, who are now raising the question: might it be time to wean yourself from Google?
Schmidt’s transgression was to state: “If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines--including Google--do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."