EU Commission Fines Google A Record-Shattering €4.3 Billion in Regards to Breaching Anti-trust Laws Grants More Flexibility to Smartphone Manufacturerers

EU Commission Fines Google A Record-Shattering €4.3 Billion in Regards to Breaching Anti-trust Laws 3

Google has been issued an unprecedented $5 billion USD or €4.3 billion fine by EU regulators. The massive fine is due to Google breaching anti-trust laws placed by the EU regulators, specifically in regards to its practices with the Android market, making it unfair for competing services to thrive on the popular, mobile platform.

Read moreEU Commission Fines Google A Record-Shattering €4.3 Billion in Regards to Breaching Anti-trust Laws Grants More Flexibility to Smartphone Manufacturerers

What the HTC Google Deal Means for Android

What the HTC Google Deal Means for Android

Google has announced that it will be purchasing part of HTC for $1.1 billion, in a move that will also include up to 2,000 HTC employees and most of the Pixel team.

In the official blog post, Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google, outlined that, “These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team,” He went on to state that “The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.”

With this deal, Google is gaining talented staff that know the market and better knowledge of the Pixel phone line and how it can be improved. Compared to the Motorola deal, this is more an acquisition of talent than a brand, but the state of the Android market is currently in a very different place ensuring Google can capitalize on the purchase far better than it has with past acquisitions.

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Google Pixel

“The fragmented user experience of Android phones and the increasingly mute voice of Google in this market demands them to raise their stakes and engage more with manufacturers of devices to show more ambition and offer a credible vision for the future,” explained John Baptista, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Warwick Business School.

“This deal with HTC shows confidence that Google has the ideas internally to drive this process, but needs to work more tightly with manufacturers to develop a more consistent experience between the phone and other devices such as wearables, home automation, car automation, as well as increasingly work related applications and integration with office systems.

With the Android marketplace so fragmented and only an estimated 13 per cent running on Nougat, it is clear Google has to step in and help the market find its footing.

“Executing its vision in partnership with HTC will set a reference for other manufacturers that use their platform and explain to its users how and why they should continue to engage with Google’s products,” Baptista told CGMagazine.

Both Apple and Google have built powerful operating systems that offer users a deep and diverse experience, yet the market is fragmented and there is no clear, dominant brand that represents Android. This move by Google to move things in-house will help the consumer feel confident that Google will update the devices and present them with the best possible offering of the OS.

The need for Google to step into the world of AR (augmented reality) further exemplifies why controlling all aspects of how the hardware talks to the software is important going forward. Apple has made a giant leap in the space with the ARKit, and while Google does have ARCore, it simply has not generated the buzz that Apple has already garnered in that space.

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Google I/O

“Augmented reality and virtual reality look increasingly to be the future for mobile, so it might be that Google needs to work more tightly with chip manufacturers to develop the hardware in conjunction with their software to deliver AR and VR capabilities,” Baptista said.

While this acquisition makes sense for Google, the advantage to HTC is still unclear. The company has had a solid relationship with Android since the earliest devices—such as the HTC Dream and the Nexus One phone—yet even with all this attention on Android, HTC has fallen out of favour in recent years with Samsung now controlling around 20% of the global smartphone market share.

HTC’s move into VR with the HTC Vive has also not panned out as intended. While the HTC Vive is one of the top-selling VR headsets, HTC has is looking to sell off the division or spin it off into a separate company, according to Bloomberg. It is unclear if this is still in the cards with this latest Google deal, but it is a sign that the company needs major restructuring to find a footing in highly competitive consumer spaces like gaming and smartphones.

On the other hand, this deal could inject some much-needed capital into HTC, giving it the freedom to expand its lineups and give it the credibility it needs to set itself apart from other competitors in the market.

“With this collaboration HTC could be associated with the next main competitor of the iPhone and potentially gain new competencies which strengthen their credibility and value.” he further explains that while it is “not an immediate fix but certainly potential for a brighter future for HTC,” Baptista outlines.

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Another aspect to consider is what other manufacturers will think of such an arrangement. With Google relying on third parties to make phones on the Android platform, it may hamper plans to further expand Android lineups.

“The immediate reaction of other manufacturers may be that HTC will gain an advantage compared to them, but both Google and HTC know that they need to show that their partnership will not threaten the success of their platform and relationships with other manufacturers,” Baptista explained.

“And that instead, [the partnership] will be used to push Android development and product development to better compete with Apple in mobile and other devices. From this development will emerge new standards and technical specifications for better integration of new features such as AR and VR, facial recognition, security etc. and connections with other devices such as more advanced LTE watches. Google and HTC will lead the development of these, which for other manufacturers is great if they can then benefit from this R&D too,” Baptista said.

One thing is clear, this move will help Google push the Android platform in the right direction. With a strong set of hardware and software that is updated and maintained by the company, it will only help Android as a brand and as a platform. Apple being tightly tied to the software and hardware has an advantage in the space, and with this move, Google makes a big step to closing that gap.

PewDiePie Dropped From Network And Reality Show Cancelled

PewDiePie Dropped From Network And Reality Show Cancelled

As a result of PewDiePie’s latest controversial videos, the most subscribed to YouTuber has been dropped from his network, Maker Studios, and Google has cancelled the second season of the Scare PewDiePie reality show for anti-Semitic behaviour.

The story begins with PewDiePie, Felix Kjellberg, uploading videos about the crowd-funding site, Fiverr, in which he requested and paid multiple users to say or perform something he thought would be funny for his viewers. The joke went to far for Google and Maker Studios however when Kjellberg requested two Indian men to lift up a sign saying, “Death to all Jews” and subscribe to Keemstar. The video has since been removed and re-uploaded without ads.

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“I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me — that people on (crowd-sourcing platform) Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars,” wrote Kjellberg on Tumblr. “I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.”

After Google confirmed the cancellation of the second season of Scare PewDiePie, a YouTube spokesperson further said that Kjellberg’s channel has been removed from Google Preferred, which is how the platform handles premium advertising. The complete first season of the reality show is still available on YouTube Red for purchase.

The following statement comes from a Maker Representative in response to Variety. “Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate. Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”

Despite having over 50-million subscribers on YouTube, Kjellberg’s content may now be considered too toxic to other networks. Once the situation dies down, it will be interesting to see if Kjellberg censors his content and who picks up the channel along with its PR nightmare.

#MadeByGoogle Presentation Wrap-Up

#MadeByGoogle Presentation Wrap-Up

Earlier today, Google hosted a major press conference discussing their upcoming smartphone and search engine features. Although news of the Google Pixel was leaked beforehand, the event still explored the new smartphone in detail and explained its specifications. Here’s just a few key highlights from the San Francisco reveal:

For one, Google explored the features and abilities behind their new voice-based Google Assistant feature. Google Assistant is intended to be a personal search engine helper, not unlike Siri. More importantly, it’ll be the fundamental feature behind Google’s upcoming Google Home. Releasing on November 4th, Google Home comes from the same family as Amazon’s Alexa: It’s intended to be a physical personal assistant that uses voice commands to do everything from activate household appliances to watch Netflix on your TV.

There’s also the Google Pixel, which has the Google Assistant as a built-in feature. The Pixel is a cloud-based smartphone, and uses Google Assistant to answer and respond to particularly unique queries: such as photos from a specific month or music from a specific movie. Of particular note is the Pixel’s amazing camera. Clocking in at 12.3 megapixels, the camera comes with HDR+ by default and has received an 89 rating from DXOMark.

As well Google introduced the Daydream View headset for smartphones. The VR set looks a bit more like an accessory in style and is designed to be a light headset alternative. It’s also accessible for users with glasses. The Google Pixel will come with Daydream View support baked in too, although it will not be a Pixel-exclusive. The VR headset will go for $79 when it launches later this year in November.

Will the Daydream View and Pixel prove popular options for smartphone users? It depends. The View is certainly affordable, but the Pixel isn’t quite as flashy as other smartphones. Rather, it looks like it intends to be the Chromebook of smartphones: developed to connect with the Internet, prioritizing ease of use over raw power on its own.

Google Sets A Date For Its Modular Mobile

Google Sets A Date For Its Modular Mobile

Those of you keeping abreast with all things technological may have been watching Google’s modular cell phone code-named: Project ARA. While the idea of a build-it-yourself cell phone may have seemed like a fever dream, Google seems poised to make it a reality.

Announced as Google I/O 2016 comes to a close, Google said the developer version of Ara will ship this fall, while the consumer version will hit sometime in 2017. There’s already a sign up for developers to build Ara modules available on their website.

The unit itself looks to have a base-plate/screen, which Google has spent years refining, capable of support a minimum of six swappable modules, allowing users to create a phone that is most compatible with their usage. Whether that means using a bigger module for a better camera, or more storage space is totally up to you.

Since it’s conception in 2014, Google has been fairly quiet about Project ARA‘s release. The last hint they gave was back in August with a fairly cryptic tweet reading:

If Google is serious about Project ARA then we could see a potential combatant to the mobile market, which many feel has become monopolized. Either way, it could be a very exciting time in the way we buy and use cell phones.


Google Io16 Confrence Details A Hands-Free Future

Google Io16 Confrence Details A Hands-Free Future

Those of you looking forward to the advancement of technological integration in our day-to-day lives will be happy to know Google has got your back.

Google held their massive I/O 2016 press conference, outlining their bold step forward into the future of hands-free management. To begin, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, highlighted a more “conversational” Google Assistant, allowing users to conduct Google searches in a more natural way. Pichai made the example that a user may say “who directed The Jungle Book?” Google would respond: “Jon Favreau,” to which the user could say, “what else has he done?” and the Google Assistant would intuitively know to look up Jon Farvreau’s filmography.

This new technology would play into Google’s newest product, the Google Home. The Home would essentially be an in-depth home management tool. While appearing like a portable speaker, the Home can connect with multiple devices, including speakers and video displays, with further applications down the line to control your home’s lights and temperature. The focus is a hands free living, with Google’s improved assistant also built into the device. Users could do anything from plotting routes before leaving the house, ordering food, managing schedules, etc, conveniently and as seamless as having a conversation with another human.

The biggest announcement was Google’s new Android powered VR platform, titled Daydream. Available for smartphones, VR headsets, and app development, Daydream will essentially be (for lack of a better term) an open-source platform. Google will provide reference designs, however developers will more-or-less have free range to create on Daydream. Ubisoft and EA have announced support for Daydream, as well as several mobile developers.

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Finally, out of the conference were a firmware update for Android Wear products, which included more customization options, the ability to use any app on any watch-face and standalone apps that can be used independent of a phone. Also announced was “Android Instant Apps” which are essentially app demos, allowing users to run apps they don’t have on their phones, in order to preview them.

While it’s exciting to see Google moving us forward towards more technologically integrated lifestyles, one can’t help but worry that this is exactly how cyberpunk dystopias begin. First we let Google drive us places, now we’re letting them remotely control our houses, this feels like a slippery slope.

You can check out the Keynote speech in the video below, as well as more details about the I/O 2016 event at their website.