Feeling the heat from Google, Microsoft reportedly asked Yahoo to re-enter formal talks about buying the web portal company. The deal could easily be worth around $50 billion, according to Bloggingstocks.
Anyone still think Microsoft shouldn’t be shaking in their boots yet? Google recently snatched up Doubeclick for advertising, but Doubleclick owns Performics, a very large SEO company. Considering Google has their gunsights set against any SEO practices, even “whitehat” techniques, it seems Performics could become the “unwanted relative” of the group. I’m only speculating, but Google might just feel uncomfortable owning Performics, given their perceived anti-SEO stance.
Their purchase of Doubleclick is of course a coup against Microsoft (and Yahoo). And now, they’ve just introduced their own web-based presentation tool, thanks to the purchase of Tonic Systems. It’s very much the same as Microsoft Powerpoint. What’s left? Google Money?
Google does have a suite of great tools. I use at least 2-5 of them daily. But it seems to me that Google is on the same type of acquisition trend that IBM went on in the 1980s, and Microsoft in the 1990s. If Google competitors haven’t started complaining about anti-competitive practices, they will be soon.
The difference is, how do you regulate the Internet, and who should do it? And the bigger question: since history would suggest it, what company will replace Google in the next decade, go on an acquisition trail, peeve every one off, and be replaced in the following decade? Does the company even exist yet, or will we see their appearance in 2008-9?
I love the Google Labs concept. Itâ€™s a place where all the fun stuff Google developers create end up, before they get an actual launch or just get canned. Surfing the Google Labs website is fun itself, and I try to do it on a regular basis just to get a little insight in how the folks at Google think.
One of the great products in Labs is Google Reader, in my opinion the most competent online RSS feed reader there is. Iâ€™ve used it for quite some time, and itâ€™s just great. Not the slow clunky piece of work it was from the start at all, Google Reader is getting better and better.
And suddenly a link to Google Reader wound up in Gmail, at the top where youâ€™ve got your shortcuts to Calendar, Documents and so on. Adding Reader to the fray is a great move, but itâ€™s still stuck in Labs (check out the telling logo if you doubt me). Why is that?
What is in store for Google Reader? Either Google is planning to move it out of Labs soon, but why add the link to Gmail now if thatâ€™s the case? Or they are adding the link to see how many users will adopt it at its current state before seriously considering moving Reader out of Labs to a real releaseâ€¦? I donâ€™t know, but I love me some Google Reader so get to the point already!
Google Labs has launched their latest experiment; Google Voice Local Search. This is a free automated phone service that allows you to search for local businesses.
The concept is simple, you call Google-411, tell them your location and the business name or category you want to search and Google-411 quickly responds with a list of results to choose from. Google-411 will then return the address and phone number of the business you selected and gives you the option of being directly connected to the business of your choice free of charge (regular charges may still apply depending on your service provider). You can also say “text message” to have an SMS text message sent to your cell phone detailing the information you requested.
On my first attempt, I was being connected to the business of my choice within 15 seconds of calling Google-411. In my experience testing this service, it couldn’t have been simpler or more intuitive to use (especially if you’ve ever tried dealing with tech support via an automated phone system). Though this shouldn’t come as a surprise being that it is a Google service. It should however be noted that I do live in a city (Madison, Wisconsin) that isn’t too small or too big, so I can not attest to the quality of this service at other locations.
I would love to see this service expand to provide more features like directions or to give you the option of permanently setting a location to your particular phone number or predetermining your location based on your land line phone number, or triangulation of your cell phone signal. It will be interesting to see how this service improves over time.
I’m young and have never needed to use the “Yellow Pages” because of the convenience of the Internet and Google’s services, now with the addition of Google Voice Local Search I’ll never be without that convenience. Google-411 is like having the Yellow Pages with you wherever you go.
To try out this service for yourself just dial 1.800.GOOG.411 (1.800.466.4411).