Alphabet Google: Cutbacks in Translation Will Not Change the Business Climate for Alphabet

December 10, 2016

The Alphabet Google thing is twitching its Godzilla like tail again. This time, the effect is more noticeable than the cancellation of Web Accelerator or Orkut. Googzilla has neutered its free online translation service. Of course, I assume the information in “Google Translate Now Has a 5,000 Character Limit.” Remember the good old days of November 2016 when Google announced an improvement in its translation service. Well, lucky are we that the entire service has not be killed off.

The write up I scanned reported:

there is a small counter at the bottom right corner of the text box that counts down the characters as you type them. This means that the maximum number of characters allowed per translation is set at 5,000.

How much text is 5,000 characters? That works out to about 2.15 pages of text in 12 point Times Roman on a default Word page.

What does one do if more text has to be translated? Well, translate in segments, silly.

I have noticed that when feeding Google Translate complex pages in non Roman languages, the Google Translate system was taking longer and returning truncated translations. Now the size limit is enforced and one sees a counter for text like this:

image

I have a number of translation tools, so the loss of the Google service is no biggie here in Harrod’s Creek. I did give this shift a bit of thought. I have some ideas about why this change has been made.

First, the new financial discipline in effect at Google is going to curtail some services which are not used by large numbers of Google “customers.” I know that amidst that trillion plus searches run on Google each year, a tiny fraction rely need online translations. It is, therefore, logical to allocate computational resources to other activities. The good old days of spending freely to support less popular services is over due to cost controls. Let’s face it. The shift to mobile, the crazy moon shots, and ill fated ventures like Google Fiber don’t produce big bucks. Logical. Go with ad spending, not feel good spending.

Second, the Alphabet Google tips its hand when it kills off products and services like the Google Search Appliance. There is no future in some services. That means that the hassle of charging people to use Translate is not going to generate sufficient money to offset the erosion in the core business of ad sales. The shift to mobile puts more pressure on Google’s only money making business capable of supporting the Alphabet Google system. The costs of slipstreaming ads into Translate is not going to produce enough money to justify the investment. Who at Google wants to run an ad service delivering English to Ukrainian translations when a bonus depends on getting more Ukrainian pizza ads displayed along side the translation results?

Third, the shift from search on a big desktop device to search on a tiny mobile device is a problem. One can have more than two thirds of the queries in the US and more than 90 percent of the queries in the rest of the world. However, when only one or two ads can be shoehorned into the available screen real estate, that’s an earnings problem for the Google. Right now the revenue pump up is chugging along, but the continued robustness of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and other online vendors presages more pressure for the Google.

What’s the common thread running through my three “ideas” or “observations”? The answer is a threat to Google ad model which is predicated on the desktop search model so generously influenced by GoTo.com/Overture.com/Yahoo. The only way to keep this dog from getting hit by speeding competitors is to change the kennel set up.

That’s what the shift in the GSA, the thrashing about YouTube, and the crippling of Google Translate signal. The joy ride of the free spending, we can do anything Google is ending. It had to happen. The founders are getting older. The legal hassles are going up. The silly little Facebook thing is now a very big thing chuck full of Xooglers who know how to probe the soft parts of Googzilla.

I am probably wildly off base in my focus on Google and its revenue. Nevertheless, I am willing to go into a part of the undergrowth that some in Harrod’s Creek avoid. The undergrowth, in this case, faces an environmental threat. Google has to find a source of revenue to make up the deltas between revenue from mobile and desktop mobile, tough to control infrastructure cost inflation, and the new product flop to success ratio.

Times are changing. Googzilla is being affected by its environment. Environments can be tough to change. Monocultures can be vulnerable. Very vulnerable.

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2016

Technology and Never: A Risky Proposition

December 1, 2016

I love the capitalist tool. Forbes does the content marketing thing with a soupçon of MBA craziness and the legacy of a once proud business publication. The write up which caught my attention is “Never Acquire Technology You Understand.” The premise strikes me as ill advised.

The premise of the article is that a person with money to invest should seek far out, unproven, unknown, and high risk technologies. I highlighted this statement:

due to a lack of market and technology insight, these decisions turn into a white elephant–the corporate equivalent of the Bridge to Nowhere.

Got that? Here’s a picture to help you out.

image

Note the role of “waiters”. Apparently below “developers” are folks who serve others and survive on tips and the hope a big break will come with the order. “Waiters” are really the patient ones at the bottom of the pile.

The write up dips into the notion of a “robo advisor.” There’s social media too. The bulk of the write up describes the three types of individuals involved in doing big things via financial technology or betting money on technology horses.

What strikes me is the conclusion of the write up:

Unless you truly and deeply understand the needs of your audience, it’s best to be patient and then apply a rational litmus test to determine the personality you will present to the marketplace. If you are not a rational Waiter, you may end up in the Valley of Technology as a loss-leading Acquirer and Developer.

Wow.

The title says, “Buy stuff you don’t understand.” The conclusion says, “Sit tight.”

Forbes’ editors must have a deeper understanding of logic than I do. I thought that the approach of the smart money folks I used to work with followed some slightly different ideas; for example, diversification, allocation of a specific percentage to higher risk investments, and understand what you are dumping money into.

Errors in search and content processing companies are one example. Think of the dozens of investment firms which do not and did not understand the revenue potential of an information access company. In search, for example, a handful of companies have survived and most of the big name firms gen3rated a payoff when the company was sold to another firm. As standalone businesses, most search and content processing companies have not been home runs. The handful of high fliers has captured headlines due to financial improprieties or allegations of fancy dancing.

MBAs like to make money via flips or deals. Understanding a business is often not a prerequisite. Hey, it’s other people’s money. For those with some money, prudence makes sense. If something cannot be understood, the risks might be high. Do MBAs like wiring, side deals, and crazy double talk to get paid to be wizards?

Do dangerous technologies have a downside? Why not invest in fuel pool cleanups and let me know how that works out for you? You can even lend a hand. Oh, wear protective clothing. Some things which people don’t understand can have non financial consequences.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2016

The New Hewlett Packard Enterprise: HP Eeek

November 30, 2016

i read “HPE Posts Mixed Q4 Results.” The main idea in the write up is that HPE squeezed out some profit despite a drop in year on year revenue. I noted one interesting phrase in the write up in the midst of the fancy dancing around the revenue erosion:

In September, HPE said it will “spin-merge” its non-core software assets with Micro Focus, a software company based in the UK, in a transaction worth around $8.8 billion. These moves will enable HPE, Whitman said, to be more nimble, play higher growth margins and have an enhanced financial profile.

I also like the confections worthy of the Food Channel expressed in this statement:

The company’s goal, she [Ms. Whitman, chief cook] said, is to be the industry’s leading provider of hybrid IT built on the secure, next-generation software-defined infrastructure that runs customers’ data centers today, bridges them to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and powers of the emerging intelligent edge. [Emphasis added to highlight jargon]

Yes, intelligent edge. Yep, the edge of my desk is possibly intelligent? But I love the thought behind “intelligent edge.” Maybe I would tweak the phrase to say “intelligence edge.” But, hey, I am not a manager at an outfit with a history of board floundering, flubbed acquisitions, and selling off assets.

When I read the reports of the HPE financial results I had this thought:

I wonder if HPE’s senior management has properties with the bookings and potential of Dr. Michael Lynch’s DarkTrace.

Dr. Lynch is going one direction: up. HPE is going another: down.

I doubt if the senior management of HPE thinks much about Dr. Lynch’s business acumen. HPE thinks about finding a scapegoat for its own failure in the due diligence process, understanding the search and content processing market, and its management methods.

As I said, just a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2016

Palantir Technologies Snags Another $20 Million

November 28, 2016

I read “Secretive Big Data Firm Palantir Raises $20M in Recent Funding Run: Report.” I learned:

Palantir has quietly raised $20 million in a recent funding run.

The article pointed out that Palantir had previously raised $800 million. The write up added:

Based on the Nov. 23 Form D filing, the date of the first sale for the recent round of funding was Nov 8. Coincidentally, the new United States president Donald Trump was elected on the same day.

I found this statement interest:

Including the latest round of funding, Palantir has raised more than $2 billion to date.

Interesting. By the way, the figures seem to be hefty.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2016

Dawn of Blockchain Technology

November 24, 2016

Blockchain technology though currently powers the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, soon the technology might find takers in mainstream commercial activities.

Blockgeeks in an in-depth article guide titled What Is Blockchain Technology? A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners says:

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

Without getting into how the technology works, it would be interesting to know how and where the revolutionary technology can be utilized. Due to its inherent nature of being incorruptible due to human intervention and non-centralization, blockchain has numerous applications in the field of banking, remittances, shared economy, crowdfunding and many more, the list is just endless.

The technology will be especially helpful for people who transact over the Web and as the article points out:

Goldman Sachs believes that blockchain technology holds great potential especially to optimize clearing and settlements, and could represent global savings of up to $6bn per year.

Governments and commercial establishment, however, are apprehensive about it as blockchain might end their control over a multitude of things. Just because blockchain never stores data at one location. This also is the reason why Bitcoin is yet to gain full acceptance. But, can a driving force like blockchain technology that will empower the actual users can be stopped?

Vishal Ingole, November 24, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

DuckDuckGo: One Expert Thinks It Is Better Than Google Search

November 8, 2016

I love the stories about Google’s lousy search system. The GOOG is trying to improve search with smart software and providing more third party sponsored links in search results. In my research, I have learned that most Google users focus on getting answers to their questions. The fact that these users are asking questions which are mostly repetitive means that the GOOG can optimize for what works to handle the majority of the queries. Instrumental efficiency for the user, for Google’s network resources, and for Google’s paying customers. Some experts don’t like the direction Google is moving, powered by its data analysis.

One example is spelled out in “How I Quit Using Google Search and Saved a Lot of Time.” I noted:

Now, DDG isn’t an exact replacement for Google, but they’re close. I almost always find what I’m looking for with them [I think the “them” refers to the Google Web search system], but it [I think this means searching] can be more work. The biggest feature I miss is that you can’t specify a search period, such as the last week or year, or a date range. But only a few times in the last year have I been forced to go to Google for a difficult search.

Okay, but Google does offer Google Advanced Search and some old fashioned search box command line instructions. These are not perfect. I agree that Google has some time deficiencies. That lack of “time” functionality may be one contributing reason behind Google’s investment in Recorded Future, an analytics platform designed to perform a range of time centric functions; for example, spider the Dark Web and array events on a timeline with additional analytic reports available with a mouse click.

The write up does not share these “advanced” factoids. I highlighted this statement:

Given the advantages of a Google-free existence, I have to wonder what Google is costing the world economy. If interesting ads cause each Internet user to spend an extra five minutes a day on non-productive shopping, with almost 3 billion Internet users today, that’s 15 billion minutes or over 28,000 person years of productivity every day.

Yes, an example of what I call mid tier consultant reasoning. Make assumptions about “time”. Assign a value. Calculate the “cost.” Works every time; for example, the now cherished IDC estimate of how much time a worker spends looking for information. The idea is that a better search system unleashes value, productivity, and other types of wonderfulness. The problem is that this type of logic is often misleading because the assumptions are specious and the analysis something even a sixth grade baseball statistics fan would doubt. How about them Cubbies?

But the point of the write up is that DuckDuckGo does not traffic in human user data. There are ads, but these ads are different from Google ads. Okay. Fine.

The write up reveals three things about experts doing online search analysis:

  • Ads, regardless of who shows them, pump data back to the source of the ad. The outfit may choose to ignore what works and what doesn’t at its peril. Failed ads do not generate revenue for the advertiser. Hence the advertiser will go elsewhere.
  • Running queries which return on point information is time consuming and often difficult. The reasons range from the mysterious removal of information from indexes to the vagaries of human language. Do you know the exact term to use to locate malware which can be used to compromise an iPhone and the name of the vendor who sells this type of program. Give that a whirl on a single free Web search system.
  • The merging of imprecise information about the “cost” of a search is not convincing. Perhaps the expert should consider the impact of the shift from desktop search to mobile device search. That change will force most free Web search systems to turn some cartwheels and find ways to generate revenue. Fancy functionality is simply not used by 97 percent of online search users. Good enough search is the new normal. Thus, search today is not what search yesterday was perceived to be.

Who cares about alternative free Web search systems? The truth is that those who long for the good old days of Google may have to wake up and check out the new dawn. Misinformation, disinformation, filtered information are the norm. No advanced search system on the planet can provide pointers to high value content, accurate content on a consistent basis.

Stephen E Arnold, November 8, 2016

Demand for Palantir Shares Has Allegedly Gone Poof

November 7, 2016

I read “Ex-Palantir Employees Are Struggling To Sell Their Shares.” Let’s assume that the information in the write up is spot on. The main idea is that one of the most visible of Silicon Valley’s secretive companies has created a problem for some of its former employees. I learned:

Demand has evaporated” for the shares that make up the bulk of Palantir’s pay packages, and the company’s CEO seems aware of financial angst among his staff.

The softening of the market for stock options suggests that the company’s hassles with investors and the legal dust up with the US government are having an effect. Couple the buzz with the prices in Silicon Valley, and it is easy to understand why some people want to covert options for cash money. I highlighted this passage:

Some said they needed the cash to buy a house or pay down debt, while another said they took out a loan to fund the process of turning the options into shares. One said it was “infuriating” trying to sell their shares in a “crap” market.

I found this statement from a broker, who was not named, suggestive:

This person then quoted an unidentified broker as saying, “There is absolutely nothing moving in Palantir. People who have bought through us are trying to sell now. I don’t see it changing without the company changing their tone on an IPO.”

With the apparent decision relating to the US Army and it procurement position with regards to Palantir going the way of the Hobbits, perhaps the negativism will go away.

One thought: Buzzfeed continues to peck away at Palantir Technologies. Palantir Technologies has a relationship with Peter Thiel. The intersection of online publications and Peter Thiel has been interesting. Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, November 7, 2016

Alphabet Google: Three Financials Factoids

October 28, 2016

The Alphabet Google demonstrated the revenue power of its ad based business. You can dig through the juicy financial report at this link. Three items caught our attention here in Harrod’s Creek.

First, there is an IBM scale stock buy back planned. The amount? $7 billion. In our view, stock buy backs help out management and suggest a lack of imagination in the use of capital. The upsides are popular with the MBA crowd but we like the “keep the share price up” argument.

Second, the company is implementing tactics to offset the shift in click value between desktop search on which Google was built and the newer mobile search model. The approaches are working for now.

Third, the cost cutting yielded some savings in the science club projects. But the company continues to be almost completely dependent on ad revenue.

One can’t argue with the $22 billion in revenue. Alphabet is on its way to $100 billion in revenue powered by advertising, not search, technology, or innovation.

We realize that many Alphabet fans are unaware that Google’s revenue remains an “overture.”

Stephen E Arnold, October 28, 2016

IBM: Financial Report Keeps Up with Its Predecessors

October 25, 2016

IBM’s financial results for 2015-2015 third quarter kept up with their predecessors.

The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2016, said “IBM Profit, Sales Slip But New Units Grow.” (See page B1 in the Harrod’s Creek edition of the venerable business newspaper.) I noted this passage:

The Armonk, NY Company said Monday that third quarter revenue was $19.23 billion, down 0.3%…Big Blue said its profit fell 4% to $2.9 billion during the quarter ended in September amid weakness in its systems segment, which includes mainframe computer hardware and operating system software.

According to “Barclays Says IBM’s Q3 Not Much to Get Excited About”:

Going by the weakness in third quarter margins, Barclays said it’s led into believing that the company’s cloud business doesn’t have the scale to achieve margin at or above the corporate average. The firm termed it as not good, as the company’s strategic imperatives, including cloud, are starting to reaccelerate.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, the fans of blue chip stocks are wondering when IBM will reverse its 18th consecutive quarters of revenue decline.

I suggested to the folks hanging out at the local car repair shop that they should ask Watson. Their response:

What’s Watson. Ain’t he the guy who lives in the next town over?

I was going to explain but decided to put oil in my old car. It is getting old. I don’t think it can hang on much longer. I call it “Big Blue 2 too.” That sounds like blue tutu, doesn’t it?

Stephen E Arnold, October 25, 2016

Yahoo Discount: Maybe a Billion or More?

October 7, 2016

Yahoot—err, sorry—Yahoo may become a Kmart virtual blue light special. That’s the gist of the message in “Verizon Reportedly Wants $1 Billion Discount on Yahoo.”

I learned from the source article:

amid a growing case of bad news at the search engine company, the telecommunications giant is reportedly pushing to reduce the acquisition price by $1 billion.

It seems the discount bulled from the purple stew as a consequence of the  loss of only 500 million, give or take a few hundred million, customers’ credentials for email. Then there was the purple blood from Yahoo’s handling of what I presume was supposed to be a secret process performed for the US government.

From the hollow in Harrod’s Creek, three observations surfaced when I spoke to my colleagues in rural Kentucky:

First, a management bonus to the Xoogler in charge of Yahoot—err, sorry—Yahoo seems appropriate in today’s Sillycon Valley world. A reward for devaluation of the purchase price is a high water mark for Google-trained professionals. Perhaps that should be low water mark?

Second, perhaps Yahoo has other surprises for its customers, stakeholders, and possible future owner? I know that big money people absolutely love surprises. What fun? A chance to explain how due diligence “missed” the minor security breach and the relationship of a company to law enforcement adds spice to the lives of those who combed through Yahoo’s data.

Third, one of the goslings noted that Yahoo was nagging some users to add a layer of security to their Yahoo mail accounts. That action is indeed timely and illustrates the superb administrative grasp the company has on the purple coal tender’s processes.

I look forward to more Yahoot—err, sorry—Yahoo news.

Stephen E Arnold, October 7, 2016

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