Zoom: The Google Response Includes Me Too and a Multi Warhead Strategy

May 12, 2020

Zoom became an overnight sensation. Now Google and Microsoft are waking up to the buzz the company is generating. Where there is buzz, there is money to be made.

Google is notable for having numerous products and services. It has a reputation of abandoning projects when Googlers lose their enthusiasm for a product or service that will not advance their career.

Google Meet vs Google Hangouts vs Google Duo: What’s the Difference?” asks a good question. The article does make clear that Google offers three services. Presumably Zoom will find itself surrounded and either sell out or just be squashed by the increased competitive pressure.

According to the Verge (a publication which combines wit with Harvard Business Review advice), “Google unifies all of its messaging and communication apps into a single team.” The new Zoom killing initiative will be guided by Javier Soltero, the person who developed the mobile email app Acompli. Soltero worked at Microsoft and is credited as making Outlook what it is today. (What happened to Messrs. Bhatia and Smith, the creators of Hotmail who had some influence on the fine Outlook system?)

From our redoubt in rural Kentucky, does Google need three services to deal with Zoom? Zoom is not a newcomer. The company was set up in 2011. In that period of time, Google had its own array of video meeting services, chat apps, and messaging services. Frankly, I cannot differentiate among Google’s offerings. Maybe sometime in the future enlightenment will arrive.

In terms of financial commitments, will Google consolidate its messaging products and services in order to reduce costs? Will Google innovate so that children of Google engineers will abandon their use of Zoom? Will Google gain organic traction in the video meeting space? Will Google stick with video meetings or abandon them as it did the Toronto smart city play? Will a user know to use Chrome to make group calls in Google Duo? (Even the question can make one’s head spin.)

These are questions which are difficult to answer. Google’s sudden focus on video meetings supports three observations:

  1. Google failed to develop a video meeting service with the organic popularity of Zoom
  2. Google’s response is a classic knee jerk reaction
  3. Google needed to hire a person to try and bring order to the Google entropy generating approach to product and service innovation.

Should Zoom be worried? Yes.

Will Microsoft step up its efforts to deal with Zoom and put speed bumps in front of Google’s information highway? Will Amazon become more active in video services?

Yes.

What’s this mean for Zoom? DarkCyber thinks that life for Zoom will become more challenging.

What’s this mean for Google? Whatever the company does, the actions may fan the flames of regulatory probes into the company’s practices.

Microsoft will thrash, and probably execute another Skype play? Skype, you remember, the dropped ball.

And Amazon? The Bezos bulldozer will grind into the space crushing those not agile enough to climb aboard or avoid getting mashed into the dirt.

And Zoom? I will think fondly of the company, its inept customer support, its icon litter, and its zero privacy approach to video services.

Google’s and Microsoft’s approach to innovation and competition are at least semi-amusing. Zoom, however, may not get much of a chuckle out of the stepped up competitive pressure.

Stephen E Arnold, May 12, 2020

Intelware/Policeware Vendors Face Tough Choices and More Sales Pressure

April 20, 2020

The wild and crazy reports about the size of the lawful intercept market, the policeware market, and the intelware market may have to do some recalculations. Research and Markets’ is offering a for fee report which explains the $8.8 billion lawful interception market. The problem is that the report was issued in March 2020, and it does not address changes in the financing of intelware and policeware companies nor the impact of the coronavirus matter. You can get more information about the report from this link.

As you know, it is 2020. Global investments have trended down. Estimates range from a few percent to double digits. Now there is news from Israel that the funding structures for high technology companies are not just sagging. The investors are seeking different paths and payoffs.

Post Covid-19, Exits May Seem Like a Distant Dream But Exercising Options May Become Easier” states:

With Israeli tech companies having to cut employees’ salaries by up to 40%, many have turned to repricing stock options as a means of maintaining their talent.

Repricing means that valuations go down.

Gidi Shalom Bendor, founder and CEO of IBI Capital subsidiary S-Cube Financial Consulting, allegedly said:

You can see the valuations of public companies decreasing and can assume private companies are headed the same way,” Shalom Bendor said. Companies that are considering repricing have been around for several years and have a few dozen employees, so even though an exit is not around the corner for them it is still in sight, he explained. “In some cases, these companies have even had acquisition offers made, so options are a substantial issue.

Ayal Shenhav, head of the tech department at Israel-based firm GKH Law Offices, allegedly said:

Pay cuts and the repricing of options go hand in hand.

Let’s step back. What are the implications of repricing, if indeed it becomes a trend that reaches from Israel to Silicon Valley?

First, the long sales cycles for certain specialized software puts more financial pressure on the vendors. Providing access to software is not burdensome. What is expensive is providing the professional support required for proof of concept, training, and system tuning. Larger companies like BAE Systems and Verint will have an advantage over smaller, possibly more flexible alternatives.

Second, the change in compensation is likely to hamper hiring and retaining employees. The work harder, work longer approach in some startups means that the payoffs have to be juicy. Without the tasty cash at the end of a 70 hour work week, the best and brightest may leave the startup and join a more established firm. Thus, innovation can be slowed.

Third, specialized service providers can flourish in regions/countries which operate with a different approach to funding. Stated simply, Chinese intelware and policeware vendors may be able to capture more customers in markets coveted by some Israeli and US companies.

These are major possibilities. Evidence of change can be discerned. In my DarkCyber video for April 14, 2020, I pointed out that Geospark Analytics was doing a podcast. That’s a marketing move of note as was the firm’s publicity about hiring a new female CEO, who was a US Army major, a former SAIC senior manager, and a familiar figure in some government agencies. LookingGlass issues a steady stream of publicity about its webinars. Recorded Future, since its purchase by Insight, has become more vocal in its marketing to the enterprise. The claims of cyber threat vendors about malware, hacks, and stolen data are flowing from companies once content with a zero profile approach to publicity.

Why?

Sales are being made, but according to the DarkCyber research team the deals are taking longer, have less generous terms, and require proofs of concept. Some police departments are particularly artful with proofs of concepts and are able to tap some high value systems for their analysts with repeated proofs of concept.

To sum up, projections about the size of the lawful intercept, intelware, and policeware market will continue to be generated. But insiders know that the market is finite. Governments have to allocate funds, work with planning windows open for months if not a year or more, and then deal with unexpected demands. Example? The spike in coronavirus related fraud, misdirection of relief checks, and growing citizen unrest in some sectors.

Net net: The change in Israel’s financing, the uptick in marketing from what were once invisible firms, and the environment of the pandemic are disruptive factors. No quick resolution is in sight.

Stephen E Arnold, April 21, 2020

Small and Possibly Irrelevant Factoid: Chinese Patents

April 16, 2020

The truth and trust outfit Thomson Reuters published “In a First, China Knocks US from Top Spot in Global Patent Race.” The write up reports:

The World Intellectual Property Organization, which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said 58,990 applications were filed from China last year, beating out the United States which filed 57,840.

So what? This is allegedly a 200 X increase. Also interesting is the assertion that more than half of the patents in the sample originated in Asia.

Important? Probably not. Patents are not “real” innovation. Patents are words and weird diagrams.

Stephen E Arnold, April 16, 2020

A Rose by Any Other Name Is Google Meet or Google Chat or Google What?

April 11, 2020

Slashgear published “Google Meet Is Hangouts Meet’s New Name, Everything Else Is the Same.” I don’t use any of the Google “talk” services. I don’t want to talk, chat, receive text messages, or get phone calls. Why? If something is important, a person will send me a letter or maybe a FedEx. Anyone remember those?

But many folks younger than 76 are into chat et al. The write up states:

It is perhaps a running joke by now that Google just can’t settle on a single messaging app or service for long. It has gone through quite a number of them, enough to confuse even the most ardent of Google’s followers. That has happened yet again now that Hangouts Meet, G Suite’s video conferencing product, has officially been rebranded to Google Meet, perhaps with the ironic goal of making things less confusing.

This is no joke. The organizational approach at Google is based on high school science club management methods. This obvious guiding principle is overlooked by many, including the Google Board of Directors, most Googlers, most pundits, and, of course, those seeking Google’s mouse pads, LED pins, T shirts, and other assorted tangible evidence that proximity with the GOOG took place.

The write up states:

The Meet part of the Hangouts brand is being renamed to a more identifiable Google Meet. The logo, however, remains the same and Hangouts Chat remains untouched.

Yeah, okay.

If these services worked, why was it necessary for Google’s HSSCMM team to forbid Zoom on Google laptops?

Perhaps the answer is, “Zoom sort of worked.”

How does this relate to the name confusion, the multiple ways to exchange information, and the incredible confusion of numerous products and services which function like a 1960’s Bell labs TV phone?

Gentle reader, may I submit that Google does one thing well: Relax the precision of search results in order to burn through ad inventory. Google is not making much headway in its non ad businesses. Google is ads.

HSSCMM are now on display. Perhaps everyone can try to join a Hangout, do a chat, or send an email to Google customer service?

One last question, “Are there ads on the Loon balloons?”

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2020

The Spirit of HP Management Exists: Quibi Hears an Eko

April 10, 2020

Anyone remember HP’s greatest moments? Paying really, really close attention to some Board of Directors? Buying Autonomy without reading an expert group’s report? Stumbling into the abyss with Alta Vista? Possibly the influence of Meg Whitman and that HP management experience has now challenged the practioners of the high school science club management methods for excellence, judgment, and logical thinking?

I am thinking about HP because I read “Quibi’s Turnstyle Tech Battle Sees Eko Score Accelerated Hearing Date For Preliminary Injunction – Update.” If the write up is accurate, the HP way has found itself into the mechanics of Quibi. Quibi is apparently a short form video service. None of that sitting in one’s pajamas talking about Animal Crossing. These are allegedly pro-grade videos, better than the outputs of TV stars forced to manage their own lighting and audio.

The write up states:

In reality, Eko owns the technology and promptly asked Quibi to cease and desist,” an accompanying flourish filled memorandum of points (read it here) from Eko’s parent company says of the slow-burn confrontation between the parties over the past few months. “In response, Quibi sent an untruthful letter and then filed a declaratory judgment action,” according to the 30-page paperwork submitted to U.S. District Court in California.

I think this means that the HP way allegedly has appropriated a system and method from another firm. That other firm is going to try to obtain justice. Interesting, right. Justice.

The article states that Quibi is free for now. Will the footsteps of Eko’s lawyers echo in the minds of those embracing the sounds of a possible HP anthem “Oh, I’ve Got Hair Oil On My Ears And My Glasses Are Slipping Down, But Baby I Can See Through You.”

Stephen E Arnold, April 10, 2020

A Minor Point about Google Wave

April 9, 2020

I read “Google Wave’s Failure is a Great Lesson for Modern Real-Time Collaboration Tools.” I sure don’t want to get in a digital squabble. Revisionism is a respected skill at this time. The article points out:

The idea to focus on communication came from Jens who noticed a significant shift in the way people interacted online. The consensus between the brothers was that they should build a platform that would reflect those changes in its functionality.

I would suggest checking out Dr. Alon Halevy (who was Alon Levy for a while). He wrote:

I was the CEO of Megagon Labs from November 2015 until December 2018. Prior to Megagon, I headed the Structured Data Group of Google Research in Mountain View, California for a decade (here are a few thoughts about that decade). I joined Google in 2005 with the acquisition of my company, Transformic. Prior to that, I was a professor of Computer Science at the University of Washington, where I founded the UW CSE Database Group in 1998. You can follow me on Twitter for more (un)frequent updates. In the past, I used to blog and maybe I’ll return to it some day.

He added:

My group is responsible for Google Fusion Tables, a service for managing data in the cloud that focuses on ease of use, collaboration and data integration. Fusion Tables enables users to upload spreadsheets, CSV and KML files and share them with collaborators or with the public. You can easily integrate data from multiple sources (and organizations) and use a collection of visualizations to look at your data. In particular, Fusion Tables is deeply integrated with Google Maps, making it easy to visualize large geographic data sets. To facilitate collaboration, users can conduct fine-grained discussions on the data. You can see some examples of how Fusion Tables is being used. You can interact with Fusion Tables through our UI or our API.

The source for these quotes is https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~alon/.

With thousands of Googles, why did I focus on Dr. Halevy. The name change was a signal to which I attended. With a bit of work, one can locate slide decks which explain some of the functionality Dr. Halevy brought to Google.

Did Dr. Halevy inform the younger Googlers?

My research for Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator (Infonortics (now out of business says, “Yes.” Dr. Halevy had a significant impact on Google and influenced the company’s efforts in surveillance, data transformation, and collaborative services.

But as one of my friends says to me when we talk, “Nobody cares.” I would add that many of those waiting about Google are unaware of Transformics. That’s too bad. There was a reason why the Google acquired the firm. What is Dr. Halevy contributing to Facebook. Those early Transformic slide decks and Dr. Halevy’s technical papers may yield some insights. But that’s work. Better to go with revisionism.

Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2020

 

NR2 Search

March 23, 2020

DarkCyber noted that NR2 made a public version of its innovation search engine available. This information and investment startup was founded about a year ago. NR2 won the K Startup Grand Challenge in 2019, beating 176 other startups from 95 countries.

The company says:

Powered by big data and artificial intelligence, we deliver insights that predict trends in innovation before they sweep the globe. We sit at the heart of China and Europe’s innovation hubs, enabling us to seamlessly link global investment to local innovation, accelerating growth and returns for both.

The company’s headquarters are in Paris. The founders are Maxim Parr, a graduate of HEC Paris (a business school with an eight percent acceptance rate),and Jordan Monnet, a PhD who is proficient in Mandarin.

The founders told the HEC publication:

We can learn so much about how innovation thrives by understanding data on start-ups. Our algorithms have found many characteristics present in disruptive companies and we use them to help our users identify the next generation of revolutionary companies. We started with Chinese start ups, but we are building out our search engine to capture innovation everywhere.

A query for analytics returned a list of companies shown below:

image

The companies listed were Chinese.

Clicking on the company Hesaitech returned a useful summary of the firm:

image

The icon allows the user to copy the link to the NR2.io entry.

Observations:

  1. Extremely useful resource in its present form. DarkCyber anticipates enhancements
  2. There are a number of monetization options available to this company
  3. Content valuable to investment firms and organizations looking for companies to explore deals or partnerships
  4. Data appear to be of high value because obtaining current information about venture funded firms in China and elsewhere can be time consuming.

We ran our standard queries for surveillance technology, facial recognition, and investigative software and did not immediately locate useful information. We think that this is a result of the search terms we tested.

DarkCyber will add this resource to our list of useful resources. Worth a look.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2020

Innovators and Innovation: Is Google in the Me Too Business?

February 21, 2020

Ah, Google Plus. One could get a bonus for doing Plus things. Yes, Google Plus, the wanna be Facebook. And using the Orkut experience only made Google Plus better. How could a plus become a minus? It happened. Keep in mind that Google Plus could at any moment vivify if a Googler with time on his/her hands enters the “circle.” Why? How? What?

Hey, that’s just Googley.

Cult of Mac is circulating what may be a delicious digital cupcake. Now the confection could be a real treat like those at Philz Coffee, or it could be one of the pipe dreams about job security in the Google Cloud unit. Who knows?

The write up’s title is “Google Is Readying Its Own Apple News Competitor.” Now Apple News is different from Facebook, the alleged target of the Google Plus service. There’s insufficient information to figure out if the Apple News service is making publishers and users happy. DarkCyber has heard that some of those ink stained wretches are not ready to shout “Hurrah” from the watering holes near the great publishing facilities in Manhattan and trailer courts in Kansas-like locations.

The write up states:

Google has been in talks with multiple publishers about paying a licensing fee for content used in its upcoming news product. So far it sounds like the company is mostly talking to publishers outside the US, but the company says it views the initiative as an important tool for an informed democracy.

Ah, democracy. Google allegedly phrased its idea this way:

“We want to help people find quality journalism – it’s important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry,” said Richard Gingras, VP of news at Google. We care deeply about this and are talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers, building on programs like our Google News Initiative.”

Let’s reflect a moment on these questions:

  • What me too product from Google has been the equivalent of Amazon’s AWS or Apple’s ear bud things?
  • What happens when the Googlers working on the alleged product decide to shift to a product that will earn the workers bonuses and niftier work?
  • What’s the plan for differentiating the service from for fee competitors, original sources and their pay walls and begging for dollars messages, or ad supported services like Newsnow.co.uk?

There are other questions, but this is a rumor. When it becomes a reality like Google Plus, then we will have “real” news or AF as some young folks say.

Stephen E Arnold, February 21, 2020

Google Scores Big in a Decade of Failures

December 23, 2019

The trendy Verge identified “The 84 Biggest Flops, Fails, and Dead Dreams of the Decade in Tech.” The importance of the story warranted capital letters. Shouting “Failure” is cool, is it not?

I scanned the list and noted these entries for Google.

  1. Google Nexus Q—A media streamer from the online ad outfit
  2. Google Reader—An RSS reader that worked
  3. Google Fiber—Yeah, but I got a T shirt for the defunct Louisville service
  4. Google Barge—Data centers outside of country’s legal limits
  5. Google+—The future of Google that wasn’t. Orkut is missed among some interesting supporters in Brazil even now
  6. Google Tango—A virtual reality middle school science club project
  7. Google Daydream—A virtual reality high school science club project
  8. Android tablets—Sluggish? For sure
  9. Essential phone—Not really Google, but the Xoogler behind it and the Google exit? Priceless
  10. Google Project Ara—A grade school science club project
  11. Google smart watch—Yeah, super
  12. Google messaging strategy—Pre-school science club projects
  13. Google Glass—One Googler Glass professional needed therapy after using the device

This means that one company appears to contribute more failures, flops, and foolhardy actions than any other firm in the ken of the Verge’s failure team.

Good work, Verge failure team. Great work, Google. The next decade will be even better and more relevant than the last 10 years we assume.

Stephen E Arnold, December 23, 2019

Google Discovers Radio

November 22, 2019

We noted The Hindu BusinessLine story “As News Consumption Patterns Change, Google Launches Audio Streaming of News.” Now radio is broadcast. The Google approach uses the Internet. But audio is audio. And audio evokes images of radio technology. The family may not huddle around the glowing vacuum tubes, but the experience is similar. Yes, we know that radio brought some families together in a shared auditory experience.

image

No gray T shirts and khakis for this family unit of radio listeners.

The Google approach surfs on the trend for isolation. Hey, islands of existence are good, right?

The write up points out:

As people take to podcasts and digital audio content, Google has launched audio news broadcasts. All a user needs to do is to ask Google Assistant to ‘Play the news’, and it begins streaming news. Google has tied up with global media houses such as BBC to provide content to users.

DarkCyber wonders if any other high tech companies have stumbled upon this innovation. Yes, yes, Amazon Alexa can do radio. I think I saw the neighbor’s kid asking his iPhone to play something, maybe Cambridge University’s Naked Scientist. Disappointed kid? I don’t know.

The write up quotes a Googler as stating:

“The audio web is like the text web of the 1990s. At Google, we saw an opportunity to help move digital audio forward by focusing on audio news.

Does anyone hear Eureka arising over the sounds of employee protests?

Stephen E Arnold, November 22, 2019

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