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   Technology StocksAlphabet Inc. (Google)

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From: JakeStraw5/10/2019 7:56:18 AM
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Google now lists playable podcasts in search results

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From: Sr K5/14/2019 12:26:52 PM
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11:55 AM ET

Alphabet's Google will begin featuring ads on the homepage of its mobile website and smartphone app later this year, it said on Tuesday, giving the search engine a huge new supply of ad slots to boost revenue.

Google will also start placing ads with a gallery of up to eight images in search results, potentially increasing ad supply further. The ads will appear on Google pages and apps globally.


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From: Glenn Petersen5/17/2019 10:11:34 AM
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Alphabet’s Wing will kick off Helsinki drone deliveries in summer 2019

Kyle Wiggers
May 17, 2019 5:59 AM

Above: Project Wing
Image Credit: Wing

Alphabet X Labs graduate Wing announced late last year that it’d soon begin piloting autonomous deliveries in Helsinki, Finland, and in a blog post this morning, it laid out a detailed roadmap. Wing says that in the coming weeks, it’ll deploy a small fleet of drones in the city’s Vuosaari district, where they’ll ferry provisions from convenience stores to homes and “multi-family housing communities.”

Wing will launch with two retail partners — Herkku Food Market, a gourmet supermarket, and Cafe Monami, a restaurant — to deliver items weighing 3.3 pounds or less up to a distance of 6.2 miles. The company says that in anticipation of the launch, it’s hosted several community events “so that local residents could ask questions about [the] service” and “provide thoughts on how Wing might fit into their lives.”

“Vuosaari is an inspiring locale for Wing in several ways,” wrote Wing. “Helsinki’s most populous district, it is bordered by water on three sides, with significant forestland alongside residential areas and a large international cargo port. The density of Vuosaari’s population makes it a great place to launch our first service to multi-family housing communities as well.”

The Helsinki expansion marks Wing’s first European rollout and comes a month after the launch of its commercial drone delivery service in Australia. Around 100 homes in the suburbs of Crace, Franklin, and Palmerston have access to the service currently, where Wing’s drones have completed 70,000 flights and 3,000 deliveries.

Meanwhile, stateside, Wing in April gained a small-sized air carrier designation from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, enabling it to kick off drone deliveries from local merchants in the Virginia towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg within months.

Current-gen Wing drones can fly at speeds of up to 78 miles per hour and take off and land vertically, thanks to a dozen vertical rotors and two propellers. Automated flight-planning software determines their route, while a downward-facing camera and other onboard sensors help them avoid obstacles.

The sophisticated tech could result in substantial cost savings for — and smaller carbon footprint from — local businesses, Wing asserts. A commissioned report cited $9 million in annual cost savings, while a Rand Corporation study forecasted a 6% reduction in energy usage compared to trucks.

But it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.

According to a Wall Street Journal report last year, Wing’s drones have disrupted the lives of some longtime residents, who say that they no longer use their yards as much. (The company says it’s working on quieter and lower-pitched propellers.) User error has resulted in at least one accidental delivery, and the drones are sometimes forced to land due to high winds and obstructions.

In September 2016, the company partnered with fast-casual chain Chipotle in the U.S. to deliver orders for a small group of Virginia Tech students. But only a month later, Wing canceled a tentative collaboration with Starbucks over disagreements regarding the handling of customer data, according to Bloomberg.

Despite the setbacks, Wing is forging ahead against rivals like Amazon, which launched a trial of its Prime Air drone delivery service for select customers in Cambridge, England in December 2016. In the intervening years, companies like Microsoft and startup Flytrex have trialed airborne delivery services in cities like Holly Springs, North Carolina and Wichita, Kansas. In May, Uber announced plans to deliver food by drone in San Diego, and FedEx plans to develop a drone-powered aircraft inspection program in Tennessee, and more recently, Matternet teamed up with UPS to launch an aerial delivery service from WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh.

Reports show the commercial drone industry continues to grow quickly, albeit from a small base. A 2017 forecast from Gartner projected the number of commercial drones sold that year would exceed 174,000. Moreover, about $454 million was thrown at UAV startups in 2016 alone, and the market is forecasted to be worth $127 billion by 2020.

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From: Sr K5/18/2019 1:48:22 PM
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Google was often overcharging advertisers.


Google to Refund Advertisers After Suit Over Fraud Scheme

Legal claims spotlight tech giant’s dominance in online advertising, both as a buyer and seller

Updated May 17, 2019 3:55 p.m. ET

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has agreed to refund advertisers for ads purchased on its ad marketplaces that ran on websites with fraudulent traffic, following a lawsuit claiming the tech giant was withholding the payments, according to court documents and people familiar with the situation.

In 2017, Google offered limited refunds to hundreds of marketers and ad agencies who had purchased ad space through its online ad-buying tool after the company discovered a wide-ranging fraud scheme, which resulted in ads running on sites whose...

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From: lucky_limey5/20/2019 9:07:39 AM
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Google BLOCKS Huawei: Chinese tech giant's phones will NOT work with Android in the future after Trump blacklist - in trade war escalation that could KILL OFF the firm's global smartphone businessNew Huawei phones will not have access to Gmail, Google Maps and other apps

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From: JakeStraw5/21/2019 8:04:27 AM
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Google reverses decision to cut ties with Huawei after US eases trade restrictions

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From: JakeStraw5/21/2019 10:21:44 AM
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Google sister-company Verily is teaming with big pharma on clinical trials
The company announced Tuesday strategic alliances with the pharmaceutical companies Novartis, Sanofi, Otsuka and Pfizer to help it move more deeply into the medical studies market. The goals for Verily, and its pharma partners, are to reach patients in new ways, make it easier to enroll and participate in trials, and aggregate data across a variety of sources, including the electronic medical record or health-tracking wearable devices.

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From: JakeStraw5/24/2019 8:16:59 AM
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Now it's easy to order food in Google Assistant, Search and Maps

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From: Glenn Petersen5/25/2019 11:51:39 AM
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Maciej Ceglowski on gdpr

by Tyler Cowen
Marginal Revolution
May 25, 2019 at 12:23 a.m.

The plain language of the GDPR is so plainly at odds with the business model of surveillance advertising that contorting the real-time ad brokerages into something resembling compliance has required acrobatics that have left essentially everybody unhappy.

The leading ad networks in the European Union have chosen to respond to the GDPR by stitching together a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of consent,a mechanism whereby a user wishing to visit, say, a weather forecast page 4 is first prompted to agree to share data with a consortium of 119 entities, including the aptly named “A Million Ads”network. The user can scroll through this list of intermediaries one by one, or give or withhold consent en bloc, but either way she must wait a further two minutes for the consent collection process to terminate before she is allowed to find out whether or it is going to rain.

This majestically baroque consent mechanism also hinders Europeans from using the privacy preserving features built into their web browsers, or from turning off invasive tracking technologies like third-party cookies,since the mechanism depends on their being present.

For the average EU citizen,therefore, the immediate effect of the GDPR has been to add friction to their internet browsing experience along the lines of the infamous 2011 EU Privacy Directive (“EU cookie law”) that added consent dialogs to nearly every site on the internet.

The GDPR roll out has also demonstrated to what extent the European ad market depends on Google, who has assumed the role of de facto technical regulatory authority due to its overwhelming market share. Google waited until the night before the regulation went into effect to announce its intentions, leaving ad networks scrambling.

It is significant that Google and Facebook also took advantage of the US-EU privacy shield to move 1.5billion non-EU user records out of EU jurisdiction to servers in the United States. Overall, the GDPR has significantly strengthened Facebook and Google at the expense of smaller players in the surveillance economy.

The data protection provisions of the GDPR, particularly the right to erase, imposed significant compliance costs on internet companies. In some cases,these compliance costs just show the legislation working as intended. Companies who were not keeping adequate track of personal data were forced to retrofit costly controls, and that date is now safer for it.

But in other cases, companies with a strong commitment to privacy also found themselves expending significant resources on retooling. Personally identifying information has a way of seeping into odd corners of computer systems (for example, users will sometimes accidentally paste their password into a search box), and tracking down all of these special cases can be challenging in a complex system.The requirements around erasure, particularly as they interact with backups, also impose a special burden, as most computer systems are designed with a bias to never losing data,rather than making it easy to expunge.
Here is the full Senate testimony, there are many interesting points in the piece. I thank an MR reader for the pointer.

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To: Sr K who wrote (15205)5/27/2019 2:17:14 AM
From: J.F. Sebastian
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Facebook is trying to develop its own streaming video platform, I'm sure they don't want Reed Hastings in the boardroom being privy to any plans they might talk about there.

Apple made the mistake of keeping then-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, on their board when Apple was developing the iPhone and iPad at the same time Google was working on Android.

Probably an honest mistake at that point, because Google was very secretive about Android, but I can only imagine the things Eric Schmidt found out about the iPhone that he passed on to the Android engineers.

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