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GOOG Up Against Volatile Tech
Lackluster action abroad, in-line initial jobless claims, and caution ahead of tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls report have created a mixed morning in trading. That said, the stock market still sports a first quarter gain of more than 5% to date, making it the best first quarter performance since 1998. Shares of GOOG are up strong versus a sideways tech tape. Upcoming catalysts include Android momentum on smartphones and tablets; regaining ground in China and pushing into other emerging markets; updated software, adoption and media partners for Google TV; and progress in other newer initiatives (location-based services, mapping, gaming, etc.). The stock trades at approximately 14x Enterprise Value / EBIT, inexpensive relative to historical trading levels and the broader Internet group.Google Launches Long Awaited Social Search (Business Insider)
Google is launching its much awaited social search service called +1, allowing users with a Google Profile to vote on search results, then will use the votes as a factor in ranking results. Users can see which friends and contacts they’re sharing recommendations with by using the “Social Circle And Content” tab in their Google Dashboard. Comprehensive coverage of the launch:
- Google +1 Going After Facebook And Twitter: +1 buttons will be everywhere you see Facebook “like” buttons and Twitter “re-tweet” buttons today. Assuming Google will use all the recommendations to improve search results and bring content and URLs into some sort of content stream on Google. If Google were really smart, it’d enable +1 recommendations to proliferate users’ Facebook and Twitter streams, too.
- +1 Is Starting Simple: What is it? Not much, and that’s a good thing. Unlike past Google product launches like Google Wave and Google Buzz, there isn’t much that’s complicated or convoluted going on with +1. Google isn’t overpromising, so it can’t really underdeliver.
- Making Search Relevant Again: Google’s new +1 service is not just about taking on Facebook. It’s also a great way for Google to make its search results relevant again, by leveraging social information.
- Leveraging Their Core Asset: Google is now offering the ability to indicate your approval of a search result. Because it’s directly tied to Google’s most powerful asset, the move has some serious legs. Site owners will want to put the +1 button on their sites.
Google Plays Russian Roulette With China Mapping Regulation (Bloomberg)
Google defiance of China’s censorship rules resulted in it being pulled out of the country last year. As of yesterday, China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping hadn’t received an application from Google to keep offering its service, as required under regulations. The future of Google Maps in China may be in jeopardy, furthering Google’s dim outlook in the worlds largest Internet market. Not to mention allowing Baidu to widen its lead.
Google Launches In-App Billing, Allowing Potential For More Revenue Generating Apps (GigaOm)
Google launched a long-awaited in-app billing feature for developers who can now add in-app purchases (digital goods, content downloads, additional gaming levels and virtual currency) to Android apps. Following the same model as Apple (which has enabled this since June 2009), Google will earn a 30% cut of in-app purchases. Will Google app revenue payouts rival Apple’s billions? Not likely in the short term. But at least the potential is there.
Grabbing Java Creator Is A Feather In Google’s Cap (eWeek)
Despite the Oracle Android case, bagging Java creator James Gosling is a coup for Google. Google has, for some time, been making lots of moves around Java; from tools and mobile platforms to related languages and research projects. It appears as though Gosling has entered into an open-ended agreement with Google to work on strategic efforts.
Google Can No Longer Use Opt-Out Practices As It Pertains To User Info (The Wall Street Journal)
Google agreed to strict privacy rules in a proposed settlement of government claims that it violated users’ privacy with the Google Buzz fiasco. The proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission requires the search giant to develop a “comprehensive privacy program” and to submit to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years. The restrictions could temporarily hamper, Google’s ability to compete with rivals such as Facebook and Apple, which don’t need to seek user permission (opt-out).