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Friday, January 31, 2014

Google Sales Top Estimates as Retail Ads Bolster Results

Story first appeared in Bloomberg News.

Google Sales Top Estimates as Retail Ads Bolster Results

Google Inc. (GOOG) posted fourth-quarter sales that topped estimates as retailers spent more on advertising during the holidays, making up for lower ad prices.
Revenue, excluding sales passed on to partners, rose 11 percent to $13.6 billion, while profit excluding certain items was $12.01 a share, the company said in January 2014.

Analysts on average had projected sales of $13.4 billion and profit of $12.25, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Larry Page is fine-tuning Google’s mobile strategy. It’s exiting smartphone manufacturing and selling its Motorola handset unit -- which had an operating loss of $384 million -- to Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) for $2.91 billion. While ads on phones make less money than on desktop computers, Google was able to generate income from retailers targeting online shoppers, who boosted e-commerce sales 15 percent to $61.8 billion during the holiday period.
“The holiday shopping season online was strong for Google.
Google climbed 4.1 percent in extended U.S. trading. The shares advanced 2.6 percent to $1,135.39 to close out the month of January 2014.

Google stock climbed 58 percent in 2013, compared with a 30 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Google shares rose 3.4 percent to the equivalent of $1,181.68 at 9:31 a.m. in Frankfurt.
Operating expenses, excluding the cost of revenues, rose 14 percent to $5.5 billion. Net income rose 17 percent to $3.38 billion.
Motorola Deal
The Mountain View, California-based search provider had bought the Motorola mobile unit for $12.4 billion in 2012, pushing it into direct competition with hardware partners such as Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) that use Google’s Android smartphone software.
Motorola again weighed on results during the fourth quarter. The unit’s revenue fell 18 percent to $1.24 billion.
While the search provider may be selling Motorola, it’s continuing to invest. Google earlier this month said it was spending $3.2 billion in cash to buy Nest Labs Inc., the digital thermostat maker led by a former Apple Inc. executive.
Google, which had $58.7 billion in cash at the end of last quarter, said it’s buying artificial-intelligence company DeepMind Technologies Ltd.
Google’s “other” revenue, which includes the mobile Play store and hardware such as Chromecast, rose 99 percent from the year ago-period to $1.65 billion.
Advertising Prices
Within Google’s core business, prices for ads fell 11 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with a decline of 8 percent in the previous period, At the same time, the volume of clicks on ads jumped 31 percent compared with a gain of 26 percent in the earlier period.
Cost per click pricing in AdWords is declining, so Google needs to work on mobile advertising to compensate according to many Stock analysts.
Google has been upgrading its sales features. In 2013, Google introduced an advertising service called enhanced campaigns, encouraging marketers to funnel more of their spending to wireless devices. The company also has been pushing retail customers to spend more on product listing ads, which enable them to use more information in promotions, including pictures.
Google is still benefiting from its leadership in online advertising and search. The company is expected to take 41 percent of the U.S. digital-ad market this year with the closest No. 2, Facebook Inc., grabbing just 8.2 percent, according to EMarketer Inc.
“There’s also great momentum in Product Listing Ads,” Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, said during a call with analysts. “We continue to improve the experience for shoppers and retailers.”

Monday, January 20, 2014


This story first appeared in CNN Money.

Google is developing smart contact lenses that measure the glucose levels in diabetics' tears.
If successful, Google's newest venture could help to eliminate one of the most painful and intrusive daily routines of diabetics.

People with diabetes have difficulty controlling the level of sugar in their blood stream, so they need to monitor their glucose levels -- typically by stabbing themselves with small pin pricks, swabbing their blood onto test strips and feeding them into an electronic reader.

Google's smart contacts could potentially make blood sugar monitoring far less invasive.

The prototype contacts are outfitted with tiny wireless chips and glucose sensors, sandwiched between two lenses. They are able to measure blood sugar levels once per second, and Google is working on putting LED lights inside the lenses that would flash when those levels are too low or high.

The electronics in the lens are so small that they appear to be specks of glitter, Google said. The wireless antenna is thinner than a human hair.
They're still in the testing phase and not yet ready for prime time. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) has run clinical research studies, and the company is in discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Diabetes is a chronic problem, affecting about one in 19 people across the globe and one in 12 in the United States.

The smart contacts are being developed in Google's famous Google X labs, a breeding ground for projects that could solve some of the world's biggest problems. Google X labs is also working on driverless cars and balloons that transmit Wi-Fi signals to remote areas.

Google's contact lens project isn't the first attempt at building the technology. For many years, scientists have been investigating whether other body fluids, including tears, could be used to help people measure their glucose levels. In 2011, Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) partnered with the University of Washington to build contact lenses with small radios and glucose sensors. 

Friday, January 17, 2014


This story first appeared in The Detroit News

San Diego -- A California woman believed to be the first person cited for wearing Google Glass while driving won her case, but legal experts say it marks only the beginning of what they predict will be numerous court battles fought in the gap between today's laws and fast-arriving technology.

Cecilia Abadie's was found not guilty Thursday after being cited for wearing the computer-in-eyeglass device while driving because San Diego County Traffic Court Commissioner John Blair said there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was operating while she was driving.

But Blair stopped short of ruling that it is legal to drive while Google Glass is activated.

Abadie was cited under a code banning operation of a video or TV screen at the front of a vehicle that is moving. Blair said the code's language is broad enough that it could also apply to Google Glass if there were evidence the device was activated while the motorist was driving.

But Abadie, who wore the device around her neck during her trial, insisted afterward that the screen is above her line of vision, its functions can be activated with her voice or a wink, and it is not a distraction even when activated.

"I'm recording a video of all this," she told reporters outside the courthouse as she answered questions without skipping a beat. "Do you feel like I'm not paying attention to you?"

Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Law School, said the lower court ruling does not set a legal precedent but marks the start of what he expects will be a number of similar challenges.

"The fun is just starting," he said.

From driverless cars to wearable devices that can enhance human functions, Wadhwa said, there are a host of legal questions to be answered. For example, when a Google-operated car is on the road and hits someone, who is responsible -- the passenger, car manufacturer or software developer?

Abadie, a software developer, is among thousands of "explorers" who have been selected to try out Google Glass before the technology becomes widely available to the public later this year.

The device in a kind of glass-wear frame features a thumbnail-size transparent display above the right eye.

Her attorney, William Concidine, said anything can be a distraction, such as when drivers turn the radio dials to change stations. He wants lawmakers to rule that Google Glass can be used safely while someone drives, so codes like the one used to cite his client are not left up to the interpretation of individual judges.

"I believe there is an information gap," he said.

The lightweight frames are equipped with a hidden camera and tiny display that responds to voice commands. The technology can be used to do things such as check email, learn background about something the wearer is looking at, or to get driving directions.

Legislators in at least three states -- Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia -- have introduced bills that would ban driving with Google Glass.

After the ruling, Google said it has warned early Glass adopters to exercise caution.

"Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it," Google said in a statement. "Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first."

Monday, January 13, 2014


Original Article by: Bloomberg News

Accenture Plc (ACN), the second-biggest technology-consulting company, will take over construction of, the Obamacare enrollment website that debuted with crippling computer problems in October.
The U.S. government has awarded Accenture’s Federal Services unit a one-year contract, with an initial payment of $45 million, the Dublin-based company said in a statement yesterday. Accenture will succeed Montreal-based CGI Group Inc. (GIB/A), which drew criticism for the website’s early stumbles.
While the site has improved,’s first two months were marred by delays, error messages and garbled data that bogged down insurance sign-ups in the 36 U.S. states served by the federal system. Accenture led construction of California’s better-performing state exchange.
“Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving,” David Moskovitz, chief executive officer at Accenture Federal Services, said in the statement.
The government-run insurance exchanges offer health plans and access to subsidies created by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. CGI’s role in managing had been reduced following the botched rollout, with a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) brought in to oversee emergency repairs. Most Americans have until March 31 to select a health plan for 2014 coverage.
Contract Value
Accenture rose less than 1 percent to $83.20 in New York trading on Jan. 10, the day The Washington Post reported the company would replace CGI. Its shares have gained 19 percent for the 12 months through last week. CGI fell 2.9 percent, to $31.58 on Jan. 10.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chose Accenture from more than a dozen firms, according to the company’s statement. The contract’s final value will be based on “mutually agreed-upon work plans,” the company said.
Accenture will help the federal system prepare for its second open enrollment period in October 2014, including “24/7 support of the marketplace application, eligibility and enrollment functions, generation and transmission of enrollment forms, and features related to special enrollment periods,” according to the statement. Accenture also will develop new features for future phases of the program.