Company / division: Alphabet
YouTube Makes Series of Announcements at VidCon (Jun 23, 2017)
Some YouTube Advertisers Still Staying Away (Jun 21, 2017)
Google announced its Jobs search vertical last month at its I/O developer conference, but it’s now actually launched the feature live for users (this is a good example of how launch announcements are often vague or completely silent on the point of timing, and it’s always worth checking that detail). The search feature works pretty much as you would imagine, for now at least merely aggregating search listings on existing big job search sites, though there’s no guarantee Google won’t eventually seek to disintermediate the legacy players and do more of the heavy lifting itself. After all, if users are already coming to Google for search results, why not encourage employers to list directly on Google over time? It’s also worth noting that Google has been reported to be working on a recruitment service for companies, for now decoupled from the Google search engine, but clearly a potential fit with it in time.
To my mind, this announcement illustrates just how tough it will continue to be for standalone storage and backup companies to establish viable businesses over the long term, because their key features will continue to be embraced and absorbed by the big ecosystems. I still use Dropbox for backing up my various files and syncing them between machines, but I just know that a point will come when Google or Apple will simply build those features into their broader service offerings, and then I’ll ditch Dropbox. There’s simply very little true differentiation in this area – storage is storage, and at a certain level backup is backup. Once you get the table stakes around simplicity and universal access, it mostly comes down to trust and pricing, where the big guys are likely to have a significant edge. To get to this specific announcement from Google: it’s going to be providing an easier way to backup and sync files from your PC to Google Drive, which doesn’t require you to keep your files in a special Google Drive folder on your computer, unlike Dropbox. And although free storage maxes out at 15GB, Google will be pretty competitive beyond that on pricing.
via The Verge
Just a quick one here: I wrote about Alphabet company Jigsaw’s machine learning-based approach to online content moderation a while back. At the time, I said it was nice to see AI and machine learning being applied to humdrum every problems that actually needed solving, but back then this was merely a concept that Jigsaw was making available. So it’s great validation for the technology that the New York Times is actually adopting it in a modified, customized form it’s developed with Jigsaw. That should both improve comment moderation on the Times website while also giving the underlying technology a boost, presumably making other news organizations more likely to try it.
The Trump administration is holding the first meetings of its American Technology Council, led by Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, later this month. Despite the recent contretemps between the tech industry and the administration, it appears most of the largest companies will still send senior leaders to the meetings, including CEOs or chairmen in many cases. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Intel, Cisco, and others will all send at least one senior representative to the meetings. That’s a sign of the realism that still prevails at these companies despite broad opposition within their ranks to any kind of collaboration with the government. These companies still have policy objectives the government can and likely will help with, and disengaging entirely over those issues where there’s disagreement isn’t likely either to drive meaningfully different policies in those areas or achieve their broader goals. But that will make for some uncomfortable times for these leaders, most of whom looked pretty awkward at the first pre-inauguration meetings with Trump and his team. And these companies will face continued criticism from within Silicon Valley and elsewhere for their perceived compliance with the administration regardless.
Streaming Music Boosts Indie Label Payouts by 52% (Jun 8, 2017)
There were reports a while back that Google was planning to incorporate some limited ad blocking features into its Chrome browser, and Google has now confirmed those reports and explained exactly what it’s planning. As the reports suggested, Google isn’t planning to implement a broad ad blocker but rather will block just those ads deemed annoying by the Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a member. It sounds like Google has started reaching out to publishers to explain the forthcoming change and will be providing detailed guidance on how they can ensure their sites are in compliance. As I said when the earlier reports surfaced, it’s smart for Google to be part of the push for limited ad blockers even if that may seem counterintuitive, because if it can focus that activity on egregious ads rather than all ads indiscriminately, it has a much better shot at protecting its own massive ad revenue than if others take more of a blanket approach. We can be certain that none of Google’s own sites or ad formats will be affected by this filter, but we can also guess that there will be something of an outcry from publishers feeling that Google is favoring itself while disadvantaging others. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this play out over the next few months.