It only took a couple of thousand years, but people the world over will soon be able to have a close-up look at one of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century. Earlier today Google and Israel's Antiquities Authority announced plans to collaborate on a project to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available both to scholars and the general public over the Internet.
This is quite the big deal. A portion of the scrolls were first rediscovered in the late 1940s. But they have rarely been accessible to a wide public as issues over control prevented wide dissemination beyond a relatively small number of scholars.
Speaking with CNN, the IAI's director, Shuka Dorfman, said the project will help advance the state of biblical studies and further the understanding of Judaism and early Christianity. "We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to access history in its fullest glamor," he said.
By the time the project gets completed - it's expected to last a couple of years - the last remaining barriers to mass public viewing will disappear - assuming that you've got an Internet connection, of course.
Oh, to have Apple Inc.'s kind of problem, the Wall Street Journal asks (rhetorically). Indeed, following the company's earnings report later this afternoon, another big quarter seems likely.
At this point, Apple is executing on all fronts. Despite well-chronicled iPhone 4 antenna design problems and the lingering absence of a white version of the smartphone, analysts expect Apple will report sales of approximately 11 million iPhones in the quarter (not to mention 4.7 million iPads.) Also, demand for its flagship Mac computer hasn't been hurt in any significant way by the economy. Apple's now the third-biggest PC seller in the U.S.
Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, notes that "the magnitude of upside" might be limited because of supply constraints on the iPhone and iPad. "On the earnings call, we expect management to explain that demand outstripped supply, so even if there is not substantial unit upside, the results will still be a positive for the stock, because investors will know the reported numbers do not reflect true demand. Because of strong demand and expected backlog heading into the Dec. quarter, we believe Apple will guide revenue more optimistically than typical guides."
Bottom line: Despite the usual nit-picking, Apple will still waltz away with an A for the quarter. At this point, the big question for the company is a topic not likely to take up a lot of time during the conference call later this afternoon: the future. As CNET's Erica Ogg notes, the looming challenge Google's Android operating system poses to Apple in the smartphone business.
"The holidays are approaching, and the competition between Apple's iOS and Android is getting tighter and even more fascinating. The biggest question now is not will Android eventually catch Apple in terms of market share, but will Apple be able to keep up?"
Under Steve Jobs (second) stint as CEO, Apple has nearly always managed to answer would-be challengers. But this time, things are different and the success enjoyed by Android is a potential game-changer. More Android phones are now getting bought in the U.S. than iPhones and barring the unforeseen, analysts say that iPhone's once seemingly insurmountable lead will disappear sometime next year. And that makes the company's decision to maintain proprietary control over its various product lines that much more intriguing.
The New York Times reaches back in computer industry history to point out an eerie resemblance: Apple wound up badly battered in the early and mid-1980s when a myriad of PC clone makers, using off-the-shelf technologies offered by Intel and Microsoft, emerged dominant. The Times asks the right question: Two decades later, can proprietary trump open?
"This is a really big strategic question," Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein and Company told the Times. "No one knows whether openness will ultimately prevail as it did on the PC."
Not surprisingly Apple declined to comment on the issue. But file this one under the "Check Back Tomorrow" file.
The New York Times reports that seven test cars have traveled 1,000 miles without need for human intervention (a driver has been stationed behind the wheel just in case, accompanied by a technician to monitor the navigation system), and that they've covered more than 140,000 miles with the human chaperone stepping in only occasionally. One of the cars was even able to safely make its way down Lombard Street in San Francisco, the fabled "crookedest street in the world," the Times says.
Google's robot car is equipped with artificial-intelligence software; a rotating sensor on its roof, which can scan more than 200 feet in all directions to create a 3D map of the car's environs; a video camera mounted behind the windshield, which helps the navigation system spot pedestrians, bicyclists, and traffic lights; three radar devices on the front bumper, and one in the back; and a sensor on one of the wheels that allows the system to determine the car's position on the 3D map, the Times says. The car also features a GPS device and a motion sensor. The car follows a route programmed into the GPS system, and it can be instructed to drive cautiously, or more aggressively.
Engineers say robot cars aren't susceptible to drowsiness or driving under the influence, and that eventually they might allow for more cars on the road, because they can drive closer to other vehicles, and less fuel consumption, because their safety would allow them to be made lighter, with less defensive armor, the Times says.
The man behind the project, Sebastian Thrun, a Google engineer and co-inventor of Google's Street View mapping project, was also behind the autonomous auto that won the $2 million prize in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, a contest to see if a driverless vehicle could successfully navigate nearly 150 miles in the California desert.
The Google researchers said that at the moment they don't have a plan for marketing the system, the Times says. Thrun is a promoter of the idea of robot cars making roads safer and helping to cut down on energy costs, as is Google co-founder Larry Page, the Times reports.
At a press conference today, Logitech revealed the full details of its upcoming Logitech Revue with Google TV, a set-top box that aims to integrate all of your content--from your cable box to YouTube--to a single unified interface.
The Revue is set to come out at the end of October with a $300 list price, and preorders begin today. The Revue will be one of the first products, along with Sony's forthcoming TV, to integrate the new Google TV platform. Here's a preview of what it can do.Google TV software
The highlight of the device is, of course, Google TV. The basic pitch for Google TV is the ability to search all of your TV content through a search bar similar to Google.com. The bar overlays whatever screen you're on and combs through online video sources as well as live TV from your cable/satellite box to find content (currently, Google TV only searches DVR programs for Dish DVRs, although a Logitech representative told us he expects compatibility with non-Dish DVRs to roll out over time). The idea is that you don't need to know whether the video originates from Netflix, your cable box, YouTube, or a random Web site--Google just finds it.
Logitech Revue (Google TV)
Think of Google TV as the second season of Project Android: open-source software, backed by industry partners, created in hopes of unlocking a potentially huge new repository of Internet searches.
In 2005, when Google first acquired the team that would develop Android, smartphone users were browsing the Web, but the quality of the experience was pretty poor, until 2007, when Apple released the iPhone. Android, released a little more than a year later, aimed to provide the same level of quality as Apple's iOS software but to spread it across different hardware makers and wireless carriers in hopes of boosting mobile Internet search.
Join us on Wednesday for live coverage as Logitech officially launches the Revue, the first home video product to incorporate Google TV. The new Apple TV is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but the streaming video space is crowded with competitors. CNET compares the Apple TV to some of the major competing products that offer similar functionality.
Logitech's Google TV launch (live blog)
New Apple TV: How does it compare to streaming rivals?
Join us on Wednesday for live coverage as Logitech officially launches the Revue, the first home video product to incorporate Google TV.
The new Apple TV is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but the streaming video space is crowded with competitors. CNET compares the Apple TV to some of the major competing products that offer similar functionality.
But no one has come up with a breakout hit that brings the Internet to TVs the way the iPhone changed the way the Internet was experienced on mobile phones.
Google TV could be the solution to a problem that has eluded tech geniuses for years: how to marry the PC and the TV. Win or lose, it says much about Google's clout outside of search.
Google: A new consumer electronics power broker
Google TV could be the solution to a problem that has eluded tech geniuses for years: how to marry the PC and the TV. Win or lose, it says much about Google's clout outside of search.
Well, that didn't take very long.
Only a few months after Apple's 's iAds went live, the service is taking away share from perennial mobile-advertising leaders Google, Microsoft, and Nokia, according to Businessweek.com. The site, which carries estimates provided by IDC, sketching out how the mobile ad market will look. by the end of year, reports that "Google's share will drop to 21 percent, from 27 percent last year, when combined with results from AdMob, the ad network it bought in May. Microsoft will drop to 7 percent, from 10 percent."
As for Apple, which didn't sell mobile ads last year, IDC expects a 21% share. Businessweek quotes a company spokeswoman disclosing that the number of brands agreeing to run ads through Apple's iAd network has doubled since June.
Personally speaking, I'm quite lousy at deciphering these sorts of riddles. But I'm sure more than a few of you are regular crackerjacks, so leave your best guesses in the talkback section below. In the meantime, here's a very happy birthday to the grande dame of mystery fiction.
A developer who is working on a Google voice application for the iPhone says he has resubmitted his application and expects to receive a positive response from Apple shortly.
Google Voice Mobile developer Sean Kovacs developer, Sean Kovacs, wrote on his blog that the application "is currently undergoing review, which should last seven to 13 days before hitting the U.S. App Store."
Although the app has been submitted and rejected before, Kovacs believes that the recent posting by Apple of the approval process it uses to judge proposed developer apps offer renewed hope of receiving a positive reply. The move to publish the document last week came after more than two years of complaints from developers about Apple's often opaque decision-making process, which block certain programs from the store, cutting off applicants from the potentially lucrative market selling apps for Apple's popular iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.
Although Yahoo still leads Bing in most measures of search market share, Microsoft's search engine has passed up Yahoo, according to one tracking firm.
Nielsen, which says its numbers reflect only queries typed into a search box, has Bing at 13.9 percent, just ahead of Yahoo's 13.1 percent. Google is still the dominant market leader with roughly 65 percent of the market.
In the past year, Yahoo has seen its share slip 2.9 percentage points, while Microsoft's search engine has gained 3.2 percentage points. Google is little changed from a year earlier. And of course, with a search deal going into effect last month, Bing is Continue »
LONDON--It is hard to ignore the paradox at Nokia's global partner and developer conference: the company sells more smartphones than anyone else in the industry but is fighting for its life.
Nokia executives speaking here Tuesday didn't try to dismiss the years of trouble that culminated last week in the hiring of Microsoft's Stephen Elop as its new chief executive. Nokia's management is facing Apple's and Google's economic might, brand power, and sudden relevance in the mobile phone market that Nokia once dominated.
With words that were at times defiant, defensive, and strident, though, three Nokia leaders tried to show a new assertiveness to the programmers and mobile phone service providers that the company needs as allies.
"We haven't been as competitive as we want to be in smartphones. That's about to change," said Niklas Savender, Nokia's executive vice president of sales. "Today, we shift into high gear in Nokia's fight back in smartphone leadership."Continue »
The worldwide mobile operating system lineup is dominated by Symbian, Android, Research In Motion and Apple's iOS. But this market is in flux. And if Gartner's right, then Google's Android's surge will propel it into the second-biggest mobile operating system in the world sometime before the end of this year.
In its latest forecast, the market research company also predicts that Android will be ready to challenge Symbian as the world's biggest mobile operating system by 2014.
This was one of those slow-motion events that everyone knew would come to pass. Earlier in the year, Android climbed to No. 2 in handset activation and now it's leaped ahead of most of its rivals in installed base as well.
Look at this snapshot: In 2009, Android had 3.9% of the market. This year Android's share is expected to soar to 17.7% - in the process pushing past Research-in-Motion's BlackBerry for second place.
I've been kicking the tires with Google Instant search, and so far I think it's an improvement.
The feature, announced Wednesday at a Google search event, had been known as streaming search since it was first noticed in the wild two weeks ago. Sometimes after a short pause, it retrieves results based on what you've typed as you type it, changing those results live as you add to the query.
It's like Google's search suggest feature, which offers various ways to complete your search query--but on steroids. Google argues that Instant lets people complete their searches faster, and that might well be true, but here's how I found it most powerful: I could continuously refine my search results as I went. Instead of having to search, check the results, tweak the search, check again, and so on, I could fiddle with the search terms as I went.
I found Google Instant intuitive to use and quickly grew accustomed to not having to type the Enter key at the end to initiate my search--often my typing would trail off just about the time that the query I wanted was autocompleted in gray letters with corresponding search results below. Indeed, I got in the habit of specifically avoiding hitting enter so my search would remain live.Continue »
As she rolled out Google Instant in San Francisco Wednesday, company executive Marissa Mayer gave an indication of the reach of Google's search engine and applications. She said that Google reaches a billion users each week, or nearly a sixth of the population on the planet (currently around 687,550,638 humans).
Over the last 12 years, Google has learned that speed plays a major role in user satisfaction. "Search at the speed of thought" and "results with every letter" is how Mayer described Google Instant, which she said can save users 2 to 5 seconds per search and is expected to save save 350 million hours of users' time in a year. Faster, and more relevant, results will mean more searches per user and preference versus the competition, such as Microsoft's Bing. Of course, it also means more advertising dollars in Google's coffers, which includes $30 billion in cash today.
In addition, the pile of data that Google, and other search engines, catalog is growing. Google expects to pass the zettabyte barrier, 1 billion terrabytes, which Google said is 1 million times more than what is stored in all the libraries in the U.S.
"Search is always on a journey to the ideal search engine that knows what you want," said Google principle engineer Ben Gomes at the search event. With all its success and growth, Google has become more complex and controversial, but it apparently hasn't lost sight of the ideal.
The big tease of the last few days is over: Google earlier today announced a search enhancement called Google Instant.
Google Instant, which is rolling out through the course of the day, evolved from the company's mission to speed up search results for Internet queries. The basic change means that users will find a changing set of results in the middle of the page each time they type in a character into the search box. The added technology is designed to help Google's search engine predict what a person might be searching for.
This predictive aspect anticipates the rest of a user query in light gray text while someone is typing. Another upgrade to speed up current search: a so-called `scroll to search' feature that lets users move through predictions and rapidly view the results as they move their cursor down the page. Here's how Google described it:
Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.Google said the technology update would save 2-5 seconds per search. Consider that Google says it is now serving 1 billion users each week. One interesting tidbit worth mention: According to Google, if all its users switch over to the instant interface, it will amount to a savings of 11 hours of searching per second.)
The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don't have to finish typing your full search term, or even press "search." Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way.
Google Instant will become available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE8, in that order. Selected international markets will be able to tap Google Instant over the next week. A future version of Google Instant is being developed specifically for mobile devices.
Here's a video that Google produced to demonstrate the new features: