Tag Archives: Steve Ballmer

Google is fine, not fined

Yup, that’s me in denial. I know that there will be an appeal and it is time for the EU to actually get a grip on certain elements. In this matter I do speak with some expert authority as I have been part of the Google AdWords teams (not employed by Google though). The article ‘Google fined record €2.4bn by EU over search engine results‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/27/google-braces-for-record-breaking-1bn-fine-from-eu) is a clear article. Daniel Boffey gives us the facts of the case, which is what we were supposed to read and get. Yet there is another side to it all and I think the people forgot just how terribly bad the others are. So when I read: “By artificially and illegally promoting its own price comparison service in searches, Google denied both its consumers real choice and rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field, European regulators said“, so let’s start with this one and compare it to the mother of all ….. (read: Bing). First of all, there is no ‘Shopping’ tab. So there is that! If I go into the accursed browser of them (read: Internet Explorer), I get loads of unwanted results. In light of the last few days I had to enter ‘Grenfell .co.uk‘ a few times and guess what, I get “Visit Grenfell, Heart of Weddin Shire” in my top results, a .org.au site. The place is in NSW. Did I ask for that? Google gives a perfectly fine result. Now, I am not including the top ads as the advertisers can bid for whatever solution they want to capture. So let’s have a look at Bing ads. First I can choose to be visible in Aussie or Kiwi land, I can be visible globally or I can look at specific locations. So how do you appeal to the Australian and Scandinavian markets? Oh, and when you see the Bing system, it is flawed, yet it uses all the Google AdWords terms and phrases, callout extensions, snippets. They didn’t even bother to give them ‘original’ Bing names. And I still can’t see a way to target nations. So when we see a copy to this extent, we see the first evidence that Google made a system that a small time grocery shop like Microsoft cannot replicate at present. We can argue that the user interface is a little friendlier for some, but it is lacking in several ways and soon, when they are forced to overhaul, you get a new system to learn. So when the racer (Micro$oft) is coming in an Edsel and is up against a Jaguar XJ220, is it dominance by manipulating the race, or should the crying contender considered coming in an actual car?

Next, when I read ‘rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field’, should the EU regulator consider that the other player does not have a shopping tab, the other players has a lacking advertisement management system that require massive overbidding to get there? Then we get the change history. I cannot see specifics like ‘pausing a campaign‘, this seems like a really important item to show, for the most ALL changes are important and the user is not shown several of them.

In the end, each provider will have its own system; it is just massively unsettling on how this system ‘mimics’ Google AdWords. Yet this is only the beginning.

The quote “The commission’s decision, following a seven-year probe into Google’s dominance in searches and smartphones, suggests the company may need to fundamentally rethink the way it operates. It is also now liable to face civil actions for damages by any person or business affected by its anti-competitive behaviour” really got me started. So, if we go back to 2010, we see the BBC (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8174763.stm) give us “Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power the Yahoo website and Yahoo will in turn become the advertising sales team for Microsoft’s online offering. Yahoo has been struggling to make profits in recent years. But last year it rebuffed several takeover bids from Microsoft in an attempt to go it alone” in addition there is “Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said the 10-year deal would provide Microsoft’s Bing search engine with the necessary scale to compete“. Now he might well be the 22nd richest person on the planet, yet I wonder how he got there. We have known that the Yahoo system has been flawed for a long time, I was for a long time a Yahoo fan, I kept my account for the longest of times and even when Google was winning the race, I remained a loyal Yahoo fan. It got me what I needed. Yet over time (2006-2009) Yahoo kept on lagging more and more and the Tim Weber, the Business editor of the BBC News website stated it the clearest: “Yahoo is bowing to the inevitable. It simply had neither the resources nor the focus to win the technological arms race for search supremacy“. There is no shame here, Yahoo was not number one. So as we now realise that the Bing Search engine is running on a flawed chassis, how will that impact the consumer? Having a generic chassis is fine, yet you lose against the chassis of a Bentley Continental. Why? Because the designer was more specific with the Bentley, it was specific! As Bentley states: “By bringing the Speed models 10mm closer to the ground, Bentley’s chassis engineering team laid the foundation for an even sportier driving experience. To do so they changed the springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and suspension bushes. The result is improved body control under hard cornering, together with greater agility“, one element influences the other, and the same applies to online shopping, which gets us back to Steve Ballmer. His quote to the BBC “Through this agreement with Yahoo, we will create more innovation in search, better value for advertisers, and real consumer choice in a market currently dominated by a single company“, is that so? You see, in 2009 we already knew that non-Google algorithms were flawed. It wasn’t bad, there was the clear indication that the Google algorithms were much better, these algorithms were studies at universities around the world (also at the one I attended), the PageRank as Stanford University developed it was almost a generation ahead of the rest and when the others realised that presentations and boasts didn’t get the consumer anywhere (I attended a few of those too), they lost the race. The other players were all about the corporations and getting them online, getting the ‘path build’ so that the people will buy. Yet Google did exactly the opposite they wondered what the consumer needed and tended to that part, which won them the race and it got transferred into the Advertisement dimension as such. Here too we see the failing and the BBC published it in 2009. So the second quote “Microsoft and Yahoo know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search“, well that sounds nice and all marketed, yet, the shown truth was that at this point, their formula was flawed, Yahoo was losing traction and market share on a daily basis and what future? The Bing system currently looks like a ripped of copy (a not so great one) of the Google AdWords system, so how is there any consideration of ‘the ability to compete on a level playing field‘? In my view the three large players all had their own system and the numbers two and three were not able to keep up. So is this the case (as the EU regulator calls it) of “by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors“, or is there a clear growing case that the EU regulator does not comprehend that the algorithm is everything and the others never quite comprehended the extend of the superiority of the Google ranks? Is Google demoting others, or are the others negating elements that impact the conclusion? In car terms, if the Google car is the only one using Nitro, whilst the use of Nitro is perfectly legal (in this case). In addition, we see in 2015 ‘Microsoft loses exclusivity in shaken up Yahoo search deal‘ as well as “Microsoft will continue to provide search results for Yahoo, but in a reduced capacity. The two have renegotiated the 2009 agreement that saw Redmond become the exclusive provider of search results for a company that was once known for its own search services. This came amid speculation that Yahoo would try to end the agreement entirely“, so not only are they on a flawed system, they cannot agree on how to proceed as friends. So why would anyone continue on a limited system that does not go everywhere? In addition in April 2015 we learn “The other major change is that Microsoft will now become the exclusive salesforce for ads delivered by Microsoft’s Bing Ads platform, while Yahoo will do the same for its Gemini ads platform“, So Yahoo is cutting its sales team whilst Microsoft has to grow a new one, meaning that the customers have to deal with two systems now. In addition, they are now dealing with companies having to cope with a brain drain. Still, how related are these factors?

I personally see them as linked. One will influence the other, whilst changing the car chassis to something much faster will impact suspension and wheels, we see a generalised article (at no fault to the Guardian or the writer), yet I want to see the evidence the EU regulator has, I have been searching for the case notes and so far no luck. Yet in my mind, as I see the issues that those involves on the EU regulator side d not really comprehend the technology. This can be gotten from “According to an analysis of around 1.7bn search queries, Google’s search algorithm systematically was consistently giving prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service to the detriment of rival services“, where is that evidence? Analyses are the results of the applied algorithm (when it is done correct) and in this the advertiser is still the element not begotten. I have seen clients willing to bid through the roof for one keyword, whilst today, I notice that some of the elements of the Bing Ads do not support certain parts, so that means that my results will be impacted for no less than 10%-20% on the same bidding, so is it ‘demoting results of competitors‘, or is the competitor system flawed and it requires bids that are 20% higher just to remain competitive? And if I can already state that there are dodgy findings based on the information shown, how valid is the EU regulation findings and more important, where else did they lack ‘wisdom’?

There are references to AdSense and more important the issue they have, yet when we consider that the EU is all about corporations, these places want facilitation and as they ignored AdSense, that solutions started to get traction via bloggers and information providers. So when we see: “In a second investigation into AdSense, a Google service that allows websites to run targeted ads, the commission is concerned that Google has reduced choice by preventing sites from sourcing search ads from competitors“. Is that so? The larger publishing houses like VNU (well over 50 magazines and their related sites), so in 2005, Google got new clients and as such grew a business. And that was just in the Netherlands. Now those just yanking in a corner, trying to present systems they did not have 4 years later, and they are now crying foul?

There are leagues of comparison sites. One quote I really liked was “Google is like the person that has it all together but is too conservative sometimes, and Bing is like the party friend who is open to anything but is a hot mess”. Another quote is from 2016: “With Bing Ads though, you can only show your ads on the Content Network if you’re targeting the entire US”. So an issue of targeting shown in 2016, an issue that Google AdWords did not have a year earlier. This is important because if you cannot target the right people, the right population, you cannot be competitive. This relates to the system and the EU-regulators, because a seven year ‘investigation’ shows that a year ago, the other players were still lagging against Google, in addition, when we read in the Guardian article: “the EU regulator is further investigating how else the company may have abused its position, specifically in its provision of maps, images and information on local services”, we need to realise that when we relate to cars, the other players are confined to technology of 1989 whilst Google has the Williams F1 FW40 – 2017. The difference is big and getting bigger. It is more than technology, whilst Microsoft is giving the people some PowerPoint driven speech on retention of staff, something that IBM might have given the year before, Google is boosting mental powers and pushing the envelope of technology. Whilst Bing maps exist, they merely show why we needed to look at the map in Google. This is the game, Microsoft is merely showing most people why we prefer to watch them on Google and it goes beyond maps, beyond shopping. As I personally see it, Microsoft is pushing whatever they can to boost Azure cloud. IBM is pushing in every direction to get traction on Watson. Google is pushing every solution on its own merit; that basic difference is why the others cannot keep up (that’s just a personal speculative view). I noticed a final piece of ‘evidence’ in a marketing style picture, which I am adding below. So consider the quote ’51 million unique searchers on the Yahoo! Bing Network do not use GOOGLE’, so consider the fact of those trying to address those 51 million, whilst they could be addressing 3.5 billion searchers.

The business sector wants results, not proclaimed concepts of things to come. Microsoft is still showing that flaw with their new Consoles and the upcoming Scorpio system (Xbox One X), users want storage, not streaming issues. They lost a gaming market that was almost on equal term with Sony (Xbox 360-PlayStation 3), to a situation where it now has a mere 16% market of the Sony market and that is about to drop further still as Nintendo is close to surpassing Microsoft too.

There is always a niche market (many people), who want to kick the biggest player in town, I get that. Yet at present the issues shown and as far as I get the technology, I feel that the EU regulators are failing in a bad way. I might be wrong here and If I get the entire commission papers and if issues are found, I will update this article as I am all about informing people as good and as correct as possible. Yet the one element that is most funny, is that when I open up Internet Explorer and I type in ‘Buy a Washing Machine‘ Bing gives me 8 options, 7 from David Jones and 1 from Snowys outdoors, which is a portable one and looks like a cement mixer. So when was the last time you went to David Jones to watch a washing machine? In Google Chrome I get 6 models on the right side, with 3 from Harvey Norman, 2 from the Good Guys and one from Betta, and that is before I press the shopping tab, so can we initially conclude that Micro$oft has a few issues running at present? Oh and the Google edition gives me models from $345 to $629, Bing prices were $70 for the portable one and the rest were $499-$1499.

This is not on how good one or the other is, this is how valid the EU regulator findings were and so far, I have several questions in that regard. Now, I will be the last one keeping governments from getting large corporations to pay taxation, yet that part is set in the tax laws, not in EU-antitrust. As mentioned the searchers before, I wonder whether the EU regulators are facilitating for players who seem more and more clueless in a field of technology that is passing them by on the left and the right side of the highway called, the ‘Internet Of Things’.

From my point of view Google is doing just fine!

The EU regulator? Well we have several questions for that EU department.

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After the E3

I tend to not take Kotaku as a source (not for any negative reason), yet they have been hammering the nail on the head, even as they did not say it.  Their part ‘the losers’ starts with an image of the Xbox with the text ‘I witnessed the most powerful console ever‘, yes, hiding behind a technical detail whilst there is no proper space to store it is always a bad idea and I was happy to call the Microsoft presence literally a ‘waste of space‘ in my previous E3 article, so far I stand by it. Consider that the most powerful console has only 50% of storage space compared to a MacBook pro, which cannot do that level of gaming. Consider (taken Seagate 2.5″ drives as an example). The shift from 1TB to 2TB is $30, the shift from 2TB to 3TB is an additional $60. I do acknowledge that the 3TB drive is 8mm thicker, yet the dimensions of the 1TB and 2TB are identical, so twice the size for a mere $30 more, this is what makes the Xbox a joke. Sony might do the same, yet with Sony, you get the run on how to change it and there are good guides to show how to replace the hard drive. Plenty of gamers shelled out the additional $120 to get the space, with Microsoft it is not an option.

Now for the hardware, the Switch showed what fun was like and it has the games and more coming to keep us all happy. Both Sony and Microsoft failed us a little there. Now Sony was more about games, which is good and they just released the PS4pro, so this is not an issue, whilst the way they did it shows long term commitment, which is what gamers like. Now we see a changing market with any PS4 next to a Nintendo switch and it is a good day for gaming. Another visible event is that some of the better Xbox One exclusives are now making their way to Sony, so whilst the Sony exclusives grow, the Xbox exclusives list is starting to shrink. In addition, although not confirmed, the consoles Sony vs Microsoft was at 2:1 in 2015, some sources now give this a 6:1 setting. The PS4 has gone through the roof, with sales now surpassing 60 million consoles, meaning that they have surpassed the PS3 and could surpass the PS2 sales by 2018. I think it is a stretch, but part of me hopes so. Part of me can go towards Steve Ballmer with an ‘I told you so‘ state of mind. The weird think is that neither Mattrick nor Ballmer are stupid, they are decently intelligent and the conclusions I got to did not take a rocket scientist, which beckons who is drawing their marching orders and why are they on some track to force people to push data towards the Azure cloud? Why endanger your console market in this way?

By the way, pretty much NONE of the E3 attending press took a decent look at that, even the Guardian avoided the storage issue, which is a question for another day.

The only questionable part in it was the Bethesda Creation club. I think that it is not just about making money. The developer gets a share (as I understood it), so those with really good mods could stand to make $1-2 per quality mod. Now, I am not much of a mod fan, but there are a few really good ones and I would not begrudge the maker those $2 if need be. It would in addition up the ante for mod creators to become even better, which is not a bad thing. Finally, in some respects, a game like Fallout 3 (PC) went from awesome to beyond legendary, just because of some mods. Now, it might not be for all and that is fair enough, yet if your perception of a 90% game becomes a 98% game through the additional $2-$4 because of 1-2 mods, is that such a bad thing? It is up to the gamer to decide that, but I believe that there is some validity in the option. The validity is for them to come with it and for us to embrace those professional mods, or to ignore them. It should not impact the foundation (the original game) you bought.

In the end Nintendo did what it always does, it did something different, which is why I did not care about the WiiU and the failure I personally see it to be, from those ashes came the Switch and it rocks, going to the edge can get you big failures and massive hits, and the Switch could become their greatest hit yet, good for Nintendo! Yet, in fairness, there are media that really do not agree with me and that is fine. International Business Times was all but creating a shrine in the honour of the Xbox One X. The BBC is on my team when it comes to the Nintendo. They raised the issue that mattered for Nintendo; can the 100M units of Wii be equalled? I believe so! Now the Wii was backward compatible with the GameCube, which was my reason for getting it on day one, beyond that the Wii was a nice machine, yet it lacked a decent array of games. They let me down a little there. The Switch is already surpassing the game titles in the first year, compared to Wii 3 years, so they have that in the bag. Nintendo has in equal measure a few new IP options which can really make the Switch a phenomenal success. So from those points of view, the option of surpassing the 100M consoles seems like an easy mark. Even if the economy does not take a turn for the better, choosing between a Switch at $450 without 4K beats the Xbox One X at $500 with 4K gaming by close to 300%. So by the end of 2018 the console offset ‘Sony:Nintendo:Microsoft’ could end up being ‘13:9:2’. This would show Microsoft on how they truly bet on the wrong marketing horses. So I admit, it is a speculative prediction, yet the sales numbers are not that far off and my expected Nintendo growth is not unrealistic. Now, in the off season, the Switch is adding roughly a million users per month. I expect that the European summer, the upcoming games and upcoming festivity days could set it to a total of 10 million by the end of the year. If the economy kicks off a little stronger, it could go to 12 million, which means that in one year the Switch will equal the total Xbox One systems in the field. As more games come to switch, the added active users will fuel growth even stronger. Good games and word of mouth tends to do that, don’t take my word for it, and just look at the PS2 and PS4.

Yet, what more can we expect with the E3 behind us? Both the critics and people gave Super Mario Odyssey best of show, which fuels growth even more and it won by a substantial margin. Assassins Creed Origin did not win on any console or PC, they all had a different winner which was nice to see. Super Mario Odyssey also became best platformer, which is not really that big a surprise and again There was no win for Assassins Creed, which when we consider the stages of completion of the different games not too bad a negative. Again Nintendo got the best title for Strategy game. In this case ‘Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle‘, so as the laurels are handed to Nintendo in several ways. IGN wasn’t the only one with a voice, Gamesradar saw another part my way, they to just announced Ubisoft as the winner of 2017. It was a fair call and two brand new IP’s definitely boosts the score for Ubisoft. Gamesradar also shows one element the others did not, the lack of Indie developers. In regards to the PlayStation and the fact that this month Elite Dangerous will make it to PS4 is actually a big thing, it is one of the three top space games and now on PS4. The second is the remastered RPG original System Shock. Nightdrive Studios has enhanced a true original and so far has been able to capture the original suspense that System Shock brought us. The third one is unconfirmed from sources not that reliable, yet if true, Unknown Worlds with their open world RPG Subnautica will make waves. I reckon that the last two might bring additional hype to the Switch if they ever adapt those two for Switch. Games radar concurs; Nintendo is a winner, Xbox a loser. It is a harsh world for Microsoft and they might want to seriously consider in 2017 what their intent truly is, but as stated now the 4K and ‘strongest console ever‘ marketing gets them some media, yet in the end they poisoned their own customer base.

I think in the end it was a great E3, partially because Ubisoft and Nintendo amazed me with actual new stuff, which is what gets any gamer to the station ;-). I feel less negative about Bethesda than some of the ‘professional’ critics. Not sure why so negative as Bethesda delivered plenty, just some of their focus is VR, which might make them the legendary winner next year. In addition their new power puncher Prey was released a month before the E3, so there is that to consider. Finally there are more DLC’s coming for those games many love, so overall, we should not be too grumpy towards Bethesda.

So as the dust settles, we now get to wait another year for the next presentation of marketed hype by all the players. I for one will be very interested to see my own projection of Nintendo upcoming future. They have 5 optional new IP’s at their back and call and if they get 3 up and running, the run for Switch will grow more than even I predict which would be nice too. In the end, I am happy that the Nintendo message ‘it is about fun‘ that got through stronger than the need for 4K, which gives hope for gamers all over the world. For me personally, the moment it is a financial option, the Switch come in, perhaps a trade for my Xbox? I do hope that Nintendo will give us Pikmin, and Metroid Prime one and two, because those are the games I miss, and I will happily buy them again for the Switch, good gaming is just that, more good!

 

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