Manhattan Stories January 7, 2015

Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.”

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Manhattan Stories November 3, 2014

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung is planning to soon create a large office in New York City. Located in Manhattan, the office would be “one of the largest” corporate expansions in New York City in recent years. Citing “multiple real estate executives familiar with the search,” the report claims that Samsung has recently started reaching out to landlords and developers in New York City. The inquires have been about obtaining 1 million square feet of space, which would hold between 5,000 and 7,000 employees.

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

Manhattan Stories August 7, 2014

There will be some nervous faces in Amazon’s headquarters as Google today partners with rival booksellers Barnes & Noble to extend the Google Shopping Express service to books, reveals the New York Times.

Starting on Thursday, book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, Google’s fledgling online shopping and delivery service …

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Manhattan Stories April 14, 2014

Not enough space?

Google owns the biggest building by square footage in New York City, the 111 Eighth Avenue building previously owned by the Port Authority and one of the most wired buildings in the world. Google finalized the $1.9B purchase at the end of 2010 and has continued to also occupy office space in the Chelsea Market building across the street.

The WSJ reports (paywall) Google now…

wants to expand further in the city, launching a search for enough space to hold more than 3,000 employees, according to several real-estate executives familiar with the hunt.

The Internet firm has been in discussions with several landlords about leasing at much as 600,000 square feet in Manhattan—about half the size of the Chrysler Building. A space that large would represent a roughly 80% expansion for the company, which first established a small outpost in New York in 2000.

What’s interesting about this expansion plan is that Google hasn’t even filled out its Chelsea offices, still leasing many offices out to other companies and data centers that signed leases before the 2010 purchase.

Manhattan Stories October 11, 2012

Google begins nixing Zagat scores for more common rating system

Product Marketing Manager Megan Stevenson revealed on her Google+ profile yesterday that Google is beginning to downplay the Zagat rating system on Google+ Local and other Google products in favor of a more simplified, standard metric.

“Today it’s easier than ever to write accurate, useful reviews on Google+ Local, thanks to the updated rating scale we rolled out,” explained Stevenson. “If you want to rate the food at a restaurant, or the quality of a mechanic, just choose “poor – fair,” “good,” “very good,” or “excellent”. Behind the scenes, we will convert your ratings into numbers and factor them into the business’ precise 30-point score that shows up in Google+, Search and Maps. ”

SearchEngineLand’s Matt McGee said the change is “a good thing,” because “no one understands” Zagat scores. I beg to differ. The Zagat Survey once included over 70 cities, with roughly 250,000 reviewers since it began in 1979. In Manhattan, for example, practically every restaurant, nightclub, and business features a Zagat rating sticker out front next to its required health-grade notice. They primarily act as a guide-to-life for metro-dwellers, so I had mixed emotions when Google plucked up the revered company in 2011.

McGee said Google took “a big risk when it converted its entire local search/review system to a largely unfamiliar 30-point rating scale,” as  “consumers are familiar with five-point (or five-star) rating scales.” I will agree the five-point scale is more common; however, I do not think McGee should write off the entire world when he claims nobody understands the Zagat scoring system.

With that said, Google’s use of phrases—like “Very Good” or “Excellent”—to describe a business is very fool-proof. It requires less thinking and gets to the point rather quickly. So, while I do not wish to see Google ditch Zagat scores all together, I will concede that the new direction seems like a more user-friendly approach.

Manhattan Stories June 25, 2012

Google Offers will sponsor free Wi-Fi in New York City this summer starting today.

The sponsorship is possible through an agreement with Boingo Wireless. New Yorkers and tourists can now access free Internet at six subway stations and over 200 Boingo hotzones around the borough of Manhattan. The Wi-Fi coverage extends below street level and will last through Sep. 7.

“New Yorkers using the complimentary Wi-Fi services can check out deals from local businesses from Google Offers when they connect at Boingo hotzones throughout the city and at the following subway stations with wireless networks deployed by Transit Wireless,” explained the press release.

Google Offers is an infant deal-of-the-day website that caters localized savings to major geographic markets in the United States. It is the first sponsor of Boingo Wi-Fi, so today’s news is clearly a brand campaign for Google. However, Boingo will also benefit by expanding its initiative. The wireless tech plans to reach 36 subway stations by the end of 2012, with over 270 stations getting access by 2017, to create “a distributed advertising and sponsorship network reaching the subway system’s more than 1.6 billion annual passengers.”

Boingo Wi-Fi is already available at New York-area airports, retail centers, sports venues, hotels, fast food restaurants, and more.

The press release below.

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