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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Chrome passes Internet Explorer to become world’s most popular browser

Google’s Chrome Web browser has continued to gain market share since its introduction in 2008. Despite surpassing Internet Explorer in select regions and on weekends, Google’s browser has never been able to dethrone Microsoft in global usage share. Google’s browser has finally averaged higher traffic than Internet Explorer for the first time over a full seven-day stretch. From May 14th through May 20th, the Internet giant’s Web browser garnered a 32.76% share, ahead of Microsoft’s 31.94% and Mozilla Firefox’s 25.47% share. At the start of this week, however, Chrome’s share began to slide, falling to 31.88%, just ahead of Internet Explorer’s 31.47% share.

Google warns 20,000 websites they could be infected with malware

Google has warned 20,000 websites that they might be hacked and injected with JavaScript redirect malware, Google said.

In a message sent this week, Google said some pages of the website may be hacked. “Specifically, we think that JavaScript has been injected into your site by a third party and may be used to redirect users to malicious sites,” the Google Search Quality team said. The team said files are infected with unfamiliar JavaScript and warned that site owners should search for files containing “eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,r)” in particular. The code may be placed in HTML, JavaScript or PHP files.

Websites were also warned that server configuration files could have been compromised.”As a result of this, your site may be cloaking and showing the malicious content only in certain situations. It emphasized that it is important to remove the malware and fix the vulnerability to protect site visitors. Webmasters were also urged to keep their software up-to-date and to contact their Web hosts for technical support.

It is not the first time Google has warned website owners to look for malware infections, Google spokesman Mark Jansen said in an email. “It’s part of our ongoing mission to be transparent with webmasters and do our bit to help prevent spam,” he said. “In fact this isn’t a new phenomenon; we communicate very openly with webmasters and always have done.”

Google’s anti-malware campaigns can have a big impact. Last July Google excluded more than 11 million URLs from the “co.cc” domain, because they were regularly used by cybercriminals to spread antivirus programs and conduct drive-by attacks. Google explained in a blog post at the time that some bulk providers could host more than 50,000 malware domains, and that it could flag whole bulk domains in severe cases.

EU approves Microsoft – Skype deal

Microsoft has won approval  from European regulators to buy the internet phone service Skype for $8.5 billion.

Microsoft already had been cleared by U.S. antitrust regulators to complete its deal to buy Skype Global. So the EU approval seems like a pretty good bet.

The Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present.

“This is an important milestone, as we’ve now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council, said in a statement. “We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition.”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has pledged that, under Microsoft, Skype would continue to support Google’s Android and Apple’s Mac OS X platforms.

Microsoft is buying the European-based internet calling service from an investor group led by Silver Lake that included eBay Inc.

Gmail bug wipes out 150,000 user accounts

Google confirmed on Sunday that a major bug has mysteriously deleted the entire contents from within roughly 150,000 Gmail accounts. Google initially reported the problem to be more widespread, but it revised its initial estimate down from 0.29% of total Gmail user accounts to 0.08%. According to user reports, email correspondence from within affected accounts was deleted earlier this past weekend. Affected users were initially unable to log in to their accounts, and then found that their data had been deleted once access to the accounts had been restored. Accounts were essentially reset, with years worth of emails and chats having seemingly been erased. Google appears confident that the lost data will be restored, however, and it notes that users will be unable to access their accounts while engineers address the issue. “Google engineers are working to restore full access,” Google noted on its Gmail status page. “Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.”

Google’s China move ignores conventional wisdom

Google’s decision to stop censoring search engine results in China, announced in a blog posting Monday, flies in the face of common wisdom when it comes to doing business in the country.

China is supposed to be too important to ignore, the promise of a market with more than 1 billion people too lucrative to pass up. Common business wisdom holds that no company can afford to ignore, let alone walk away from, China. But Google has taken the first step, redirecting search, news and image results from Google.cn to servers in Hong Kong, “where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China,” the blog said.

Other aspects of Google’s business, such as its Android mobile OS, will continue to be available in China, but Google isn’t in the mobile phone business. Android was created to increase mobile Internet usage, and therefore drive up mobile demand for Google services and create new opportunities for advertisers. But Google’s search engine can be easily replaced, as Motorola recently proved when it announced that its Android handsets sold in China would come withMicrosoft’s Bing set as the default search engine.

Despite the promise of talks between Google and the Chinese government over censorship rules and the public nature of Google’s announcement, with its declaration that the company was willing to close its Chinese operations, if necessary, the outcome was predictable. China was never likely to change it’s censorship policies, which have increased in scope and sophistication in recent years, over demands from a foreign company.

In the official blog post on Monday, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said that “the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.” Although Google claims its maneuver is “entirely legal” and “sensible,” the company is well aware that China’s response could be to block all Google services in the country, according to Drummond. For now, Google intends to continue research and development work in China, and to keep a sales team there.

Google China was always in a tough spot. The Chinese government warily guards the flow of information within the country and has long been seen backing Google’s principle rival, Baidu.com, over others in the search market.

Google first fell afoul of Chinese censors in September 2002, three years before it set up its first office in the country. At that time, Chinese access to the site was blocked for 10 days over government concerns about user access to information. A few days later, Chinese authorities made changes to DNS (Domain Name System) servers in China that redirected traffic to local search engines, with the majority of users redirected to Baidu.com.

Up until that point, Google was the most popular search engine in China. Afterward, the company fell behind Baidu and never caught up.

The immediate financial impact of Google’s decision to stop censoring results for Google.cn users will be slight. Although Google’s revenue from China hit a record high during the final quarter of 2009, it was “immaterial” in the context of its overall revenue, the company said in January, without offering a specific number.

Moreover, most of Google’s fourth-quarter revenue from China came from advertising on its main site, Google.com, instead of Google.cn, the company said.

Even so, the effect won’t just be felt by Google. The Chinese government has gone to unusual lengths to prepare public opinion ahead of Google’s announcement, reportedly pulling in Chinese media for a briefing last Friday on how to handle the news.

That same day, Li Yizhong, China’s minister of industry and information technology, warned Google not to stop censoring search results on Google.cn. “If you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and you will bear the consequences,” Li said, according to a report carried by the official China Daily newspaper.

Facebook is the new threat to Google

More people are coming to US news sites via Facebook and other social networking sites such as Twitter – supplanting Google News, which had been one of the primary sources of readers, according to research by the metrics company Hitwise.

During the past year, the proportion of traffic that Facebook sends to US media sites has tripled from around 1.2% to 3.52%, while that sent by Google News has remained roughly static, at around 1.4%, says Heather Hopkins, North America analyst for Hitwise.

The growing power of Facebook also means that publishers which want to demand money from – or alternatively to lock out – Google News because of claims that it “leeches” on their content could do so without fearing a dramatic impact on their reader figures.

With more than 400m users, Facebook forms the newest – and most unexpected – threat to Google, say some analysts. Last weekend the search engine spent $5m on a TV advert during the Superbowl, puzzling many who do not see a threat from rival search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing, which has less than half of its proportion of search queries.

But Hopkins notes in a blogpost for Hitwise that: “Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category. And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch. We will continue to watch this space.”

Murdoch’s editors and executives have repeatedly criticised aggregators such Google News, claiming it is leeching off their content by displaying snippets of their work. In the UK, the Murdoch-owned titles have gone as far as blocking access to their sites by Newsnow, a smaller news aggregator.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, has argued that publishers should take advantage of the traffic that it sends them – pointing out that it sends about 4bn such links per year.

But Facebook provides the perfect counterweight, where publishers can choose how much of their content they display and view how well it is followed. Sites such as Facebook and increasingly Twitter contribute hundreds of thousands of visits every month to UK sites, according to analysis by the Guardian.

John Minnihan, the founder of the software code respositoryFreepository, warns that Facebook poses one of the biggest threats to Google on the web. “With recent data showing a large uptick in ‘Facebook as home page’, [Google] may well indeed need to remind emerging generation who/what it is. In that case, the [Superbowl] ad makes some business sense. Whatever the real reason, it has nothing to do with ‘sharing video more widely’. If FB dev’ed an integrated web-wide search engine, think about how much traffic would evaporate [from Google] overnite. That’s nightmare stuff.”

Tellingly, Minnihan’s comments were made on Twitter — which Google is rumoured to be trying to compete with in a “social version” of its Gmail webmail product to be launched today. Google has already tried – and failed – to create a world-scale social network with its Orkut product, but been obliged instead to purchase access to Twitter’s search results to provide real-time insight into what people are talking about. Facebook’s content however lies beyond its reach – and that could be crucial in the forthcoming months as news publishers in the US and UK consider putting up higher paywalls or demanding money from aggregators.

Facebook leads rise in mobile web use

A new set of audited figures for mobile internet use, the GSMA Mobile Media Metrics, reveal a landscape with one very tall peak

More than 25% of UK’s population – some 16 million people – accessed the Internet from mobile phones in December. And what were they looking for? The GSMA Mobile Media Metrics, published for the first time on Friday, provide an insight: on the mobile internet, people want to know what their friends are up to – and perhaps do a bit of flirting.

Facebook has a clearly lead in GSMA’s top 10 UK mobile internet sites, with 5 million unique users against 4.5 million for all of Google’s sites. (Mobile internet users want answers, too.)

And the domination is much greater in terms of times spend online and page views. Facebook had 2.6bn page impressions – nearly three times as many as Google, and more than a third of the 6.7bn total. Nearly half the total minutes online in December were spent at Facebook Mobile – 2.2bn minutes out of 4.8bn, with Google on 400m in a very distant second place.

One fifth of UK mobile subscribers now tote smartphones, which is driving a rise in mobile interent use. In December, already 25% of UK’s population or 16 million people accessed the internet from their mobile phones and viewed a total of 6.7bn pages.

Besides Facebook and Google, the sites of the mobile phone operators scored well, with spots three to five going to Telefonica Mobile Networks (owners of O2, with all those iPhone users), Orange Sites and Vodafone Group.

Finally, the BBC site on the seventh spot indicates that people are reading the news on the go. Breaking news is also available on the mobile networks’ sites, and those of Microsoft and Yahoo at spots six and eight.

Regarding unique users, Apple’s and Nokia’s site come in last in the top 10 UK mobile internet sites in December. Once you look at page views and time spent online, Flirtomatic – which is integrated into most mobile operator portals – also comes into the picture.

Mobile minutes spent online:

1 Facebook 2.2 bn
2 Google 396m
3 Microsoft Sites 166m
4 Orange Sites 139m
5 AOL (and Bebo) 106m
6 Apple 104m
7 Vodafone 89m
8 BBC sites 84m
9 Flirtomatic 55m
10 Yahoo 49m

The GSMA Mobile Media Metrics report was commissioned by GSMA and comScore in partnership with five UK mobile operators: O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3UK. It is being audited by ABCe.

Richard Foan, managing director of ABCe, who also chairs the web media standards committee JICWEBS, called the new metrics “a great step forward for mobile media”.

The figures are based on irreversibly anonymised mobile Internet usage data from all five UK mobile operators, collected with consent from a representative sample of mobile users. In addition, Wi-Fi traffic, not seen in the mobile network traffic, is captured in the server-side logs of media owners and ad networks