Google‘s own Chrome browser has had incredible growth in 3 short years. After being announced in December 2008, the lean and mean browser has taken the web by storm, and has now officially overtaken Mozilla’s open-source Firefox browser.
Chrome now has 25.55% of the web browser market compared to Firefox‘s 25.42%. That is hardly any growth, but what makes this significant is that Firefox has actually started declining in market share, where it once held 30% of the market. Internet Explorer is also continuing to lose market share, and this week it fell below 40% for the first time. This is probably due to users of old machines finally upgrading from Internet Explorer 6, but instead of upgrading to IE8 or 9, going directly to another browser like Chrome. And any self-respecting “tech-guru” will tell their luddite friends to switch to another browser, which updates itself and leads to less maintenance.
But it looks like South Africa is a little behind worldwide trends for browser usage – Internet Explorer has taken a very recent up-tick in usage, and Firefox has only steadily been declining over the last few months. Google Chrome is clearly growing the fastest, and it looks like it will overtake Firefox within the next 90 days: (click graph to enlarge)
The question is now how quickly Google Chrome will be neck in neck with Internet Explorer in worldwide traffic. At the current pace of growth, it looks like 2012 might be the year Google Chrome becomes the most popular browser on Earth.
The Android fans are gonna like this. Up until now, Android has been leading a double life – with one versi0n for phones, and another version for tablets. Compare this with iOS who have been recently giving concurrent software updates with iOS on iPhone and iPad. Well the good news is that Android’s tablet and phone lines are going to be joined in a upcoming release of Android nicknamed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, which will combine the best features of each, regardless of what class of device might be.
While there has been some small leaks with Ice Cream Sandwich, this is by far the most detailed one. But it is quite surprising how this video came out. Apparently a user bought a second hand Google Nexus S on eBay, and he was surprised to find Ice Cream Sandwich installed on the Google reference device. First thing you will notice is the influences of Honeycomb on the handset. While luckily not as “Tron-like” as the first Honeycomb release, the interface is definite shift away from Gingerbread. (more…)
“In the past few thousand years, the way we pay has changed just three times—from coins, to paper money, to plastic cards.
Now we’re on the brink of the next big shift”
This is the way Google envisions the its new service to switch your wallet to your phone. The idea is pretty simple – instead of carrying several cards like credit cards, loyalty cards etc, your phone will store virtual versions of these cards, and enable you to pay (and get relevant loyalty point) using your phone’s built in Near Field Communications Chip (NFC).
Simply tap your phone on the relevant contactless enabled PIN pad – and the payment goes through. Once the payment goes through the relevant loyalty points are added as well. As an added bonus Google will sync its current Google Offers to your phone. Imagine that – your “wallet” tells you where you can get a good deal right now.
As part of Google Wallet’s marketing campaign, Google used a brilliant scene of Seinfeld to show off the first obvious benefit of Google Wallet: A thinner wallet:
A revolutionary idea like this is obviously a massive undertaking. Right now it is only available on one specific model of the Nexus S in the US, but expect roll-out on other handsets as well. No word on worldwide roll-out right now, but with Mastercard’s backing expect it sooner than later. Update: VISA also announced that they are onboard with Google Wallet. The problem is that NFC is currently is still considered a bit of gold rush with everybody trying to partner with different payment gateways, and only time will tell which system might win at the end.
Looks like Google+ might have some trouble ahead. Recent reports suggest that Google+’s novelty is wearing off as stats point to declining return users to Google+. Be honest – those of you who have signed up for Google+, how many of you still return to it regularly? We are betting not a lot. Compare that to Facebook users who generally tend to visit the site daily, if not multiple times a day.
Once they were enemies, but now Facebook and Twitter have teamed up with each other against Google. While the option to import your tweets into Facebook has been available for quite some time, Facebook will now natively allow users to tweet their Facebook status natively. No plugins needed.
There are some gotchas however. You need to obviously provide Facebook with your Twitter details, and your status updates have to be set to “public” in order to post to Twitter as well.
This is a interesting move by Facebook and Twitter, but I really hope they release some info on its uptake. Our opinion is that most people’s use of Facebook and Twitter vary greatly. Status updates sent on the network is not necessarily meant for the other network. For example, your techie/webby friends might be on Twitter, and your friends (and acquaintances) are on Facebook. This might be the reason for Google+’s recent decline in traffic. And no, the “Circles” feature does not help, it just increases complexity for the average user. (For some great insight into this read Simon‘s great post “Should I use Google+?“)
Right now we do not know when exactly the feature will go live, but expect it soon.
After last month’s acquisition of Motorola, it seems Google does not hesitate to buy brand names which are much, much older than them. Google now announced that they are buying over Zagat – the people who are known for rating restuarants, but also recently hotels, shopping areas, zoos, music, movies, theaters, golf courses etc. You should have heard of the Zagat Guide, and clearly Google wants that credibility integrated with its current offerings like Google Search and Google Maps.
Here is Google’s official statement:
With Zagat, we gain a world-class team that has more experience in consumer based-surveys, recommendations and reviews than anyone else in the industry. Founded by Tim and Nina Zagat more than 32 years ago, Zagat has established a trusted and well-loved brand the world over, operating in 13 categories and more than 100 cities. The Zagats have demonstrated their ability to innovate and to do so with tremendous insight. Their surveys may be one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet as we know it today even existed. Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and “snippeting” sentiment were “mobile” before “mobile” involved electronics. Today, Zagat provides people with a democratized, authentic and comprehensive view of where to eat, drink, stay, shop and play worldwide based on millions of reviews and ratings.
Current there are not too many reports that indicate the pricing, but it seems Google really wanted the reviews database. So they probably ponied up big bucks. While not close to products like Yelp with its massive crowd-sourced review database, it does carry a lot more clout – the reviews are done by relative experts.
Maybe we do not need to see 200 reviews of a restaurant, and only expert opinions. Perhaps a sign of the times.
Search giant Google is celebrating what would have been Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday with their second longest doodle to date. The Queen front man who died in 1991 is being honoured with a 98 second long animated video doodle appearing on Google’s homepage. The animation sees Mercury in a variety of crazy worlds and scenes inspired by his lyrics and famous music videos all to the hit song ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. The animation begins with Mercury on stage with the rest of Queen with bright ‘Google’ lights and a hug crowd of fans. Mercury then ventures into an old style video game where he rides a tiger and shoots into outer space and appears in a number of his famous costumes.
The doodle, headed up by Jenniefer Hom, was a team effort and took about three months to create. “Considering how colourful Freddie’s career was, we wanted to create a doodle that was just as colourful,” said Hom. The team decided to go with the hit ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ because it was one of Queen’s top 10 hits of all time and was written by Mercury himself. The song also reflects the legacy and exceptional impact that Mercury and the band have left on the world of music. (more…)
Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt has stated that its purchase of mobile company Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. in August was for more than just its patents.
Rather, the aim of the search engine giant, that bought the company for $12.5 billion, was to acquire Motorola’s product line. “Motorola has some amazing products,” Schmidt told Salesforce.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff.
The acquisition might have come as a surprise but it makes total sense. Gone are the days of Android being called fragmented because of hardware manufacturers tweaking Android to suit their requirements before shipping their handsets. Google can now control their entire mobile experience from hardware to software (Sound familiar? Think iOS).
The acquisition of 17, 000 patents will also help them defend Android against patent claims by their number one competitor – Apple.
Every now and then I get reminded why Google are so successful at what they do – and I am not talking about advertising now. Their search algorithm is brilliantly complicated, and is the number one choice for web searches. The best part of this algorithm is that is is almost always in a state of change, a flux if you will.
Google has put together this video to give us a first hand look at how quickly they make changes to how search queries are interpreted, and how these search results are tested. One very interesting example is how they changed their way of handling misspelled words – you might remember in the past misspelled words were searched as is, and then the user was just reminded that the word might be wrongly spelt. These days it automatically searches the correct spelling first, with an “escape hatch” to confirm the misspelled word. This is just one of the changes Google has made.
Take a look at the video – the part I like most is that the Google engineers still say they understand users have choice of what browser to use. Who would have thought Google employees still told themselves that… Refreshing.
PS: That is a lot of Apple Macs in a Google meeting room...