European Parliament vs. Google
Google commands more than 90% of the search market in Europe, and that dominance has made it a target for scrutiny from regulators in the continent.
The European Parliament voted on Wednesday, by a convincing 384 votes to 174, in favor of unbundling Google’s search business from its advertising and other businesses. Competing Internet companies in the region have accused Google of using its search power to promote its own services.
The resolution calls for the European Commission (E.C.) “to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines” and “to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services” in the long run.
The vote holds no legal sway, as the real power rests with the European Commision. It is, however, symbolic of the Europe’s growing resentment towards the American Internet giant and may serve to pressure the commissioner of the E.C., Margrethe Vestager, into prompt action.
As the E.C. has never before ordered the break-up of a company, most believe it is unlikely to actually happen.
“Breaking up Google would be unprecedented in all kinds of ways and seems hugely unlikely in the absence of massive, proven consumer harm — and it’s very unclear to me whether the commission is going to find that harm,” said Mario Mariniello of Brussels research organization, Bruegel, according to the New York Times.
It is possible that the E.C. could decide to slap Google with a fine of up to $5 billion or force the tech giant into some other concessions that would appease competitive internet companies in Europe. Regardless of the decision, the growing dissent in Europe towards Google has opened the question of whether Internet giants should be allowed to bundle commercial services with their respective search engines.
Samsung prepares for management reshuffle
Korean tech giant Samsung is preparing for its annual management overhaul – the company plans to transfer 500 engineers out of its mobile unit, according to Bloomberg.
Staff members at Samsung have been in a state of anxiety approaching the management change announcements, unsure of whether they will have the same job or have a job at all within the next few weeks.
The Business Insider revealed that Samsung’s market share in the mobile phone market has shrunk year-on-year for the last three quarters. On the high end, the company has struggled to compete with the popularity of the newly released Apple iPhones and on the low end, companies like Xiaomi, one of the world’s top five largest smartphone makers, have crept in to secure their own respective shares of the market.
Coupled with Q3 operating profit in 2014 dropping by two-thirds and the Samsung Galaxy S5 sales underperforming forecasts by 40% in its first three months on the shelves, employees are rightfully concerned that the firm will downsize its mobile phone division.
It will fall to heir-apparent Lee Jao Yong (his Father, Lee Kun Hee, was hospitalized in May) to set the tone for the company heading into 2015.
“Samsung needs to freshen itself up now, so any major top-level shuffle will revive the tension and change the complacent culture,” said Oh Sang Woo, analyst at Leading Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul, according to Bloomberg. “Samsung was slow addressing the new market trend, which allowed smaller players like Xiaomi to kick in. It now needs strong leadership who can take decisive, but timely, action.”
That new leadership will be decided with the management reshuffle announcement set for early December.
Twitter tracks other apps
Just a week after Twitter released its advanced search tool, the social media platform is again walking the tightrope with regards to privacy. The company has disclosed it will be amassing data on the other apps installed on a mobile device to provide consumers with more tailored, relevant content.
“To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in,” Twitter said on its Help Center.
The data will be used to provide better “who to follow” suggestions, add “tweets, accounts, or other content to your timeline that we think you’ll find especially interesting,” and to boost advertising by “showing you more relevant promoted content,” the company continued.
The social media sphere has been subject to questions about privacy lately. New players like Ello have risen to offer a challenge to incumbents like Facebook, behind promises of more secure privacy and protected user data. On the back of its new search tool that makes any tweet since the company’s inception in 2006 public to all users, Twitter is clearly happy to test the privacy waters to better target its users.
The tech giant is well aware of the concerns users might have over this latest announcement and has made clear how to turn off the function that allows Twitter to access information on other apps on a particular smartphone. In fact, there is a step-by-step settings guide offered on how to do just that.
“We are only collecting the list of applications you have installed. We are not collecting any data within the applications,” Twitter also clarified. The new Twitter update became available for iOS on Wednesday, while Android updates can be downloaded in the coming week.
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