Even though CES remains in full swing in Vegas, Google monopolized the attention of the tech news world on Tuesday with the announcement of its updated personalized search algorithm. The reactions so far have been relatively negative, as many have the impression that Google is just trying to push Google+ with this update. Google vehemently denies that it is favoring its own social network in its new "personal results," but Twitter and others have already complained to Google about this change and there has also been talk of Google abusing its legal monopoly by making this change. Very little has been said about whether this is actually improving the search experience for Google's users. Expect to hear some of that today.
Reactions to Google's Search Updates
Search, Plus Your World: Google's official announcement of these new features: "Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more. But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box." (Google blog)
Twitter: "As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results.
We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users." (AllThingsD)
MG Siegler: "How on Earth is Google going to avoid antitrust inquiries with their new Search+ features announced today? If Facebook, Twitter, etc, have any decent presence in DC, the ball began rolling a few hours ago.
This is the type of case that Senators die for. Google wrapped it in a bow and placed it in one of their laps." (Parislemon)
The Atlantic/Alex Madrigal: "The new service, which Google calls 'Search Plus Your World,' shows both the power of integrating a social network with a search engine and the difficulty of executing on the two missions that Google has laid out for itself. What's best for Google Search might not be best for Google Plus and vice versa. And in trying to maximize both technologies' potential, Google might find itself hurting its core search tool."
Google's chairman Eric Schmidt: "I’m not going to talk about specifics." Schmidt argues that Google is not giving preferential treatment to its own service. It would give Twitter and Facebook the same treatment, if only they would give Google full access to their index. (Marketing Land, Parislemon)
Microsoft says PC sales were slower than expected in Q4: The flooding in Thailand didn't just hurt the hard drive industry, but also the PC industry as a whole. Microsoft expect sales fell about 1% in Q4 and many analysts expect an even stronger decline in sales. Intel had already cut its revenue forecast for Q4 by about $1 billion last month. (Bloomberg)
Facebook rolls ads into the news feed: Between 2006 and 2009, Facebook featured some ads in its newsfeed, but then discontinued this program. Now these ads are back and marked as "featured."For the time being, you will not see more than one featured story per day. (Facebook, TechCrunch)
300 Foxconn workers threaten suicide: According to some reports, 300 Foxconn workers in Wuhan threatened to kill themselvers on Jan. 2. The workers supposedly asked for a raise but were ony given the option to quit or continue to work for the same payment. The mayor of the town supposedly intervened and persuaded the protestors to abandon their plan. Note that this story is hard to verify. (Want China Times)
Amazon launches dedicated iPad Kindle store: No more fiddling around with Amazon's regular web interface if you want to buy a book for the Kindle App. It's web-based but feels very fluid and native. Since Apple doesn't allow Amazon to feature a store in its iPad app without paying royalties to Apple, this is probably the best solution for iPad owners. (9to5Mac)
Slower Firefox updates for more conservative users: Firefox users in the enterprise have been complaining about the fast release cycle the browser's developers adopted last year. Now, Firefox will, similar to Ubuntu, also release one version every 30 weeks that it will support for 42 week. (CNET)
New Ultrabook-like Chromebooks and a desktop Chromebox are coming: Samsung is giving its one and only Chromebook with a faster processor (up from an Atom to a Celeron), though the rest of the internals won't change much. Samsung is also launching a desktop model with support for dual screens. The new models will be available in April. Pricing will remain the same ($399 Wifi, $449 3G). (Engadget)
Distraction-free reading service Readability is now free, donations welcome: Instapaper competitor Readability has decided to give its free users full access to all of its features. You can still choose to donate to the service, which then passes the money on to authors whose articles are read through its software. Donations start at $5. (Readability)
Cut the Rope in your browser and in HTML5: Love Cut the Rope on your phone? You can now play it on your browser – just make sure it's a modern version of Chrome, FF or IE. (Cut the Rope)