Google’s VP counters anti-competitive allegations from Nextag CEO

Google attempted to “set the record straight” today with a blog post aimed to dismantle rising anti-competitive claims against the world’s leading search engine.

The Wall Street Journal published a scathing post yesterday—penned by the CEO of online retailer Nextag—that essentially painted Google as a monopoly. No—Jeff Katz did not paint; he declared:

Google has enjoyed this unrivaled position for nearly a decade. It is the most popular search engine in the world, controlling nearly 82% of the global search market and 98% of the mobile search market. Its annual revenue is larger than the economies of the world’s 28 poorest countries combined. And its closest competitor, Bing, is so far behind in both market share and revenue that Google has become, effectively, a monopoly.

The company has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant. […]

At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.

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Press shot for AT&T’s Motorola ‘Dinara’ leaks online (Photo)

Motorola announced its Dinara smartphone— officially known as the “xT928″ – for China Telecom last November, but a supposed press leak of the AT&T variation just surfaced stateside.

The Verge received a media shot of the rumored device today (above). As the report noted, the assumed Atrix 2 successor boasts a 720p display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and 4G LTE. The notable feature, however, is not really a feature at all: the Dinara lacks physical home buttons on the front display. Much is unknown about the smartphone this point; even its name is not set in stone. However, the “July 26″ stamp within the date widget might finally give a hint as to when this device will launch.

Google closed its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition last Month when China gave the merger an overdue go-ahead. Motorola promptly filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the deal’s transaction finalized shortly after. It appears the Dinara’s software and user-interface is unaffected by the recent Google buyout and will likely sport a Motoblur flavor.

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Judge orders Oracle to pay Google’s $300K in legal fees

A jury decided this last month that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents, but it has recently come to light that Oracle must pay Google’s steep legal fees accrued during the trial.

Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, while alleging the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently powers more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., adamantly denied Oracle’s contention, and claimed the Android team was unaware of Sun’s patents before the suit.

Google spokesperson Jim Prosser told Business Insider that Oracle did not succeed in landing a $6 billion settlement from Google, but it did win the responsibility of paying Google’s $300,000 in legal expenses.

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Google’s Trusted Store program comes out of pilot, opens to all US merchants

Google opened its Trusted Store program today to all United States merchants who apply.

The news comes in lieu of Google’s KikScore acquisition from earlier this week. The buyout is rumored to bulk the Trusted Stores program that helps online shoppers find stores with a safe and superior online shopping experience.

KikScore is a similar service that also offers seals for non-online retailers and local businesses. It foremost guarantees online businesses, however, and aggregates information about management, website history, and details on customer service satisfaction. The financial aspects of the acquisition were not revealed.

Google’s Product Manager Tom Fallows took to the Official Google Blog this afternoon to explain how the once-beta Trusted Store Program generated feedback from 50 online merchants and more than 10 million orders since last fall to develop a premium—yet free—shopping service:

Over the last nine months of the pilot, our tests show that participating in this program can help merchants big and small. For example, Wayfair, the largest online-only retailer of home goods and one of the top 50 largest online retailers as ranked by Internet Retailer, increased sales* on its site by 2.3 percent with Google Trusted Stores. And Beau-coup, a specialty online favors and gifts retailer, saw an 8.6 percent increase*. Take a look at our merchant success stories to learn more about how Google Trusted Stores has had a positive impact on website conversion rates and average order sizes for online retailers.

Google explained that when shopping online, the Google Trusted Store badge might appear. Shoppers can view a report card with grades for that merchant when they hover over the badge. The badge is only given to online stores that “deliver a great overall experience.” This helps shoppers to identify trustworthy and reliable online retailers.

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Report: Google to launch its tablet this month alongside magazine subscriptions

Following yesterday’s alleged leaked images of Google’s first Nexus tablet, a report from BusinessInsider today, which cited sources with “knowledge of the company’s plans,” claimed Google is set to announce the device at the end of this month. The report is unclear whether this is the same device as the Asus Google tablet pictured in the leaked images, but the source claims Google will introduce magazine subscription functionality with major publishers alongside the tablet:

Google is expected to announce its first Android tablet at the end of the month, according to a source with knowledge of the company’s plans… The new tablet will also offer magazine subscriptions from some major magazine publishers, our source says.

Previous reports from The Wall Street Journal claimed Google plans to open its own online tablet store to sell Google-branded tablets directly to customers. We are expecting to hear a lot more on June 27 at Google I/O.

2012 Summer Olympics to be live streamed on YouTube

For those looking to watch this year’s Olympic games, but do not have a cable subscription or just like the feel of YouTube a little better, the International Olympic Committee has you covered. AP reported that the IOC would live-stream over 2,200 hours of the Olympics on to YouTube for those across Asian and in Africa. According to the report, the streaming is primarily for countries that the IOC does not have rights to broadcast in, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand, and Singapore. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. London time with 10 streams of different events. Viewers in 64 territories can check the games out on the Olympics channel when they begin July 27.

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Report: Google Nexus press shots leak online [Photos]

Display captures of press shots for the Google Nexus allegedly leaked online today, which show the Asus-manufactured tablet looking like a huge Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III cross.

PhoneArena posted the leaks of the highly anticipated 7-inch tablet. Google is long-rumored to launch the device with the latest version of Android for around $250 to directly compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

The images showcase a white front with three dots in the upper-right corner that closely resemble Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Meanwhile, the back sports a two-tone white and black color scheme. The device also carries a bevy of sensors with indications of a video-capable camera on the front and a second camera on the back. The tipster, who leaked the drafts, mentioned a quad-core Tegra 3 as the CPU with the possibility of 1GB of RAM for additional specs.

It is worth noting that the source denied rumors about the Google Nexus featuring Android 5.0 Jelly Bean for the operating system, and instead claimed an updated version of Ice Cream Sandwich, i.e., Android 4.1, would power the tablet. This information corroborates the RightWare benchmark test from last month that suggested a “Google Asus Nexus 7″ would boast Android 4.1 with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.

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Google demos enhanced 3D maps using aerial imagery

The last demo given at Google’s Maps event today in San Francisco provided us with a look at the next update to 3D maps. Google’s Product Manager of Google Earth Peter Birch explained it is now using “automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images.” In other words, planes equipped with Google hardware fly in tight patterns to record aerial imagery for building 3D models of the city. Google Maps’ Vice President Brian McClendon explained the process took Google many years to perfect, but the result provides more precise data and better 3D maps experience.

Google explained during the Q&A that it has “a fleet of planes with contractors that fly exclusively for Google. And the privacy issues is no different than we’ve had with aerial shots for years.” During the demo, it also showed off a new “Tour Guide” feature for Google Earth that offers recommendations while navigating. Though the demo was given on an iPad, Google announced the new 3D features would come to both Android and iOS in the coming weeks.
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Google exhibits ‘Trekker’ backpack that captures street level data for Street View [Photo]

Google just revealed a backpack-like Street View capture device called “Trekker” that snaps images in areas impossible to navigate by vehicle (above).

“It’s 40 pounds and includes two batteries that’ll last you all day. It’s Android-powered…. We intend to take it to National Parks, the Grand Canyon, castles, etc.,”explained Google’s Engineering Director of Street View Luc Vincent at the “Next Dimension” Google Maps event in San Francisco.

The director further said street level data “could be” useful for users, and then he showed off an original Street View van (below). It is a Chevy Astro and definitely does not compare to newer Street View cars.

It is worth mentioning that Google announced it drove over 5 million unique miles to collect 20 petabytes of imagery for Street View.

More information about today’s event as at the Official Google Blog.

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Google demos upcoming enhanced offline Maps experience

Live on stage at its “Next Dimension of Google Maps” event, Google is giving three demos of the updated Maps app. The first gave us a look at the upcoming enhancements to the offline Maps experience that allows Android users to have full access to maps they saved through a “make available offline” option when not connected to the Internet. The offline Maps will let you to still view the blue GPS marker and access the compass. It also provides fully zoomable maps with Street View.

Offline was available as a Labs feature before (Google is shuttering Labs to focus on big-picture stuff), where you would have to map something out while connected and then have Android cache it. This will actually make cell/mobile data less valuable. You could even do mapping with devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Player—as long as you have the local area cached via Wi-Fi.

We are expecting it to go live in the coming weeks.

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The Next Dimension of Google Maps event live stream

Google’s Maps event is happening right now in San Francisco. You can check out the live stream here. The presentation is set to include “sneak-peak demos and a behind-the-scenes look at Google Maps” with Google Maps’ Vice President Brian McClendon. We will update with all of the details as it goes down.

Google homepage animates first drive-in theatre and announces IPv6 rollout [Video]

Google’s homepage today features an animated video for the first drive-in theatre coupled with a notice below the search field that informs folks of the IPv6 protocol rollout.

So, lets discuss the cool animation first: Double click on the video for aggregated search results on the “opening of the first drive-in theater.” A quick perusal details how R.M. Hollingshead Corporation debuted the drive-in theater 79 years ago today in New Jersey. The original lot on Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken squeezed in 400 cars, but it eventually inspired thousands of locations to pop-up around the country. Eventually the phenomena of watching a movie from within a car became a favorite American pastime.

Go below for more information on IPv6.

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