Posts Tagged ‘Media

05
Aug
10

Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad is a ‘game-changer’ for news media

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Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad is a ‘game-changer’ for news media

Thursday, August 05, 2010

••• Global media chief Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad will be a ‘game changer’ for newspapers.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said the iPad would allow publishers to attract new readers to their mastheads.

‘It’s a real game changer in the presentation of news,’ Mr. Murdoch said on Thursday during a conference call for the company’s full year profit results.

‘We will have young people reading newspapers. We will have different looking types of newspapers.’

News Corp owns newspapers in the U.S., U.K., Australia and elsewhere.

Mr. Murdoch said he expected to see hundreds of millions of these devices around the world.

‘There will be all sorts of things we can do with them,’ Mr. Murdoch said.

‘As they develop technologically, we have got to to develop our methods of presentation of news.’

News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey said the iPad ‘really starts to deliver on the promise of multimedia’ for the first time.

In terms of charging for online content, The Times and Sunday Times newspapers in the U.K. started slugging users $1.59 (£1) a day, or $3.18 (£2) a week, to access their content online from the start of July.

Mr. Murdoch said there had been a positive response, but declined to say how many people had paid for subscriptions.

‘We have had a very encouraging number of people subscribing at a good price,’ he said.

‘But we think we are on the right strategy there and we think it’s going well.’

Mr. Murdoch also flagged changes to News Corp’s social networking portal MySpace, which he said was going through a major overhaul under a new management team.

‘It will look very, very different in a few months to what it’s looked for the last few years,’ Mr Murdoch said.

‘We are going to see it out for some time yet.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): News Corporation
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04
Aug
10

News Corp. Posts $875 Million Profit as Ad Sales Rise

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News Corp. Posts $875 Million Profit as Ad Sales Rise

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

••• Media and entertainment giant News Corp. reported, Wednesday, that it has swung to profit in the fiscal fourth quarter on the back of strong performance from its television networks division which posted impressive ad sales.

News Corp. said its net profit in June quarter was $875 million or $0.33 per share as against loss of $203 million or $0.08 per share in the year ago period.

The company said its revenue moved up 5.7 percent to $8.11 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected News Corp. to report profit of $0.20 per share on revenue on $7.87 billion.

However, operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, slipped 1.7 percent year-on-year in June quarter to $932 million from $948 million.

The media conglomerate said its earnings were driven by strong performance put up by its television networks division, which accounted for more than half of its operating income.

Profits at domestic channels surged by 30 percent while international channels improved 40 percent. Overall, operating profit at cable television networks division, which include channels such as Fox News Channel and FX, surged 31 percent to $563 million on the back of advertising revenue which jumped 11 percent. The division also saw double-digit growth in revenue from fees paid by cable, satellite and fiber video providers.

Operating profit at News Corp.’s broadcast television division also surged 13 percent to $113 million on improved ad sales offsetting higher programming expenses at the company’s national broadcast network – Fox Broadcasting.

The group’s filmed entertainment division also did well but could not beat third quarter performance. Operating income in June quarter dropped 32 percent year-on-year to $137 million. In March quarter, profit stood at $497 million. At the time of announcing third quarter earnings, News Corp. had warned that one should not expect stellar performance from this division in the fourth quarter, largely due to an expected year-over-year decline in the film business due to the timing of releases.

The newspapers and information services division, which include the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch and Dow Jones, also reported 20 percent surge in profit to $115 million on higher ad revenue, though it was below Street estimates.

The company’s digital media division, which include social networking site MySpace, however, disappointed, reporting an operating loss of $174 million in the June quarter on lower search and advertising revenue. News Corp. said MySpace is set for a “major overhaul.”

News Corp.’s satellite TV division also disappointed, reporting a 37 percent slide in operating income to $97 million on the back of continued weakness at Sky Italia.

To reduce dependence on the economically sensitive advertisement-based revenue, News Corp. said it is beefing up its portfolio of subscription-based assets. In June, it said it has made a bid for the 61 percent stake of pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSkyB) it doesn’t already own.

“The opportunity for us to expand the scale of our franchises is significant, including through taking advantage of the continual technological advances that will broaden the reach of our core content and distribution businesses,” News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

The company’s full-year results were more impressive.

News Corp. said its net profit in fiscal year 2010 was $2.5 billion, helped primarily by blockbuster movie “Avatar.” DVD sales of other films like “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” also bumped up its profits. In the prior year, News Corp. incurred a net loss of $3.4 billion, which included a one-time pre-tax impairment and other charges of $9.2 billion.

“These results underscore just how well positioned we are – fiscally, operationally and strategically – for further growth across all of our markets,” Murdoch said.

Shares of News Corp., which owns Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, MySpace and 20th Century Fox among other things, closed up 1.61 percent at $13.85. Following the financial results announcement, the company’s shares were up 3.25 percent in the after-market hours.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): News Corporation
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07
Jul
10

Google’s China webpage licence under review

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Google’s China webpage licence under review

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Google Inc’s application to renew its Chinese Website license (Internet Content Provider license) is currently under review, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

But the ministry didn’t give a deadline for the license review.

It was the Chinese regulator’s latest response regarding the fate of Google China, which recently stopped redirecting automatically web searchers on China’s mainland to its Hong Kong site and applied to renew its license in the world’s largest Internet market last month.

“Google’s annual check-in is under way but there’s no detailed deadline for the result because its submission is relatively late,” said ministry spokesperson Wang Lijian.

The ministry is the body responsible for renewing and reviewing Internet content provider licenses.

Google shut down its mainland-based search engine on March 22 and rerouted users to its Hong Kong site.

It stopped the automatic redirect because regulators told the company its Internet license would not be renewed if it kept it going.

“We re-applied for the license at the end of last month and we are waiting for the results now,” said Marsha Wang, Google China’s spokesperson.

At present, only “music,” “translate” and “shopping” links, in Chinese, appear on the Google China webpage.

Visitors to google.cn will also see a tab that says, in English, “We have moved to google.com.hk.”

Clicking on that takes users to the Chinese-language site in Hong Kong.

Google clearly doesn’t want to give up the Chinese market, with more than 300 million netizens on the mainland. On the other hand, it has said it does not want to subject its Web searches to what it considers censorship under Chinese law.
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05
Jun
10

Sky buys Virgin Media TV channels for $231 million

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Sky buys Virgin Media TV channels for $231 million

Saturday, June 5, 2010

British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) has bought Virgin Media Television, the current owner of seven TV channels including Living and Bravo.

Sky, the owner of Sky News, is paying $231 million (£160 million) in cash under the deal, which also sees it acquire the channels Challenge, Challenge Jackpot and Virgin1, the latter of which will be rebranded.

The purchase expands Sky’s portfolio of basic pay TV channels and means it does not have to pay carriage fees to offer the Virgin Media Television (VMtv) channels to its customers.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media will be given the option of carrying any of Sky’s basic HD channels, Sky Sports HD 1 and Sky Sports HD 2, and all Sky Movies HD channels for an incremental wholesale fee.

It will also make Sky’s basic and premium channels available to subscribers through its on-demand TV service.

VMtv said its seven channels – which span pay and free-to-air television – reach more than 24 million adult viewers every month.
Living is the third most popular pay TV channel in the U.K., and is the self-styled home of ‘guilty pleasures and trashy glamour’.

It offers a variety of popular programmes including Four Weddings and America’s Next Top Model in its schedules.

Virgin Media said the sale of VMtv would allow it to focus on providing subscribers with ‘super-fast’ cable TV and broadband provision.

Meanwhile BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch described the acquisition as ‘an attractive investment opportunity’ that offered strategic and financial benefits.

‘We are pleased that, through commercial negotiation, we have been able to ensure wide distribution of our channels to a growing pay TV universe,’ he said.

Virgin launched Virgin1 in October 2007 although channels such as Living and Bravo came from the former ntl/Telewest business.

This in turn merged with Virgin Mobile in 2007 and was then rebranded as Virgin Media.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): British Sky Broadcasting / News Corporation
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30
Apr
10

Samsung Electronics posts record Q1, says optimistic on Q2

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Samsung Electronics posts record Q1, says optimistic on Q2

Friday, April 30, 2010

Samsung Electronics says net profit has surged in the first quarter of this year amid higher sales.

The company said on Friday that it earned 3.99 trillion won ($3.58 billion) in the three months ended March 31. It had net profit of 580 billion won ($520.26 million) the year before.

Samsung said sales in the first quarter totalled 34.64 trillion won ($31.07 billion). That was 20.8 percent higher than the 28.67 trillion won ($25.72 billion) reported a year earlier.

Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of computer memory chips, flat screen televisions and liquid crystal displays. It ranks No.2 in mobile phones behind Finland’s Nokia Corp.

Samsung Electronics said yesterday that it plans to significantly increase its investment in both chips and flat-screens in 2010, giving a bullish outlook for the remainder of this year.

Samsung posted a historic high operating profit of 4.41 trillion won ($3.9 billion) in the first quarter, mainly driven by the stellar performance of its chip business, which reported 1.96 trillion won in operating profits. Its operating profits are slightly higher than its earlier forecast of 4.3 trillion won ($3.88 million). Samsung’s first-quarter sales reached 3.99 trillion won, compared with its guidance of 34 trillion won.

Samsung expected its earnings to further improve in the second quarter, and said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the second half as well, expecting strong demand for memory and LCDs, and a sales increase for handsets and TVs.

Samsung is the world’s top maker of memory chips, LCD panels and LCD TVs, and the No. 2 handset vendor.

“In order to address the increased demand in the market, we are planning to substantially increase the capital expenditure from the initial guidance, which was 5.5 trillion ($4.93 billion) for memory and 3 trillion ($2.69 billion) for LCDs,” Robert Yi, Samsung’s head of investor relations, said at an earnings conference call yesterday.

Media and analysts have speculated that Samsung may expand its chip investment to more than 7.5 trillion won ($6.73 billion) and its LCD spending to 4.5 trillion won ($4.04 billion) this year.

As for the memory market, Samsung expected supply and demand to remain tight for both DRAM and NAND in the current quarter, saying that a supply increase may not be enough to catch up with robust demand.

However, Samsung’s LCD division posted a lower-than-expected operating profit of 490 billion won ($439.53 million), ceding its top position in terms of profitability to its rival LG Display. LG, the world’s No. 2 LCD maker by sales, reported first-quarter operating profit of 789.4 billion won ($708.09 million), which beat market forecasts.

Samsung said the fall was mainly caused by depreciation costs, and expected an improved profit in the current quarter.

Samsung faces an increasing threat from LG Display, which seeks to catch up not only in profit but sales, with aggressive investment plans. To cope with the challenge, Samsung may spend an additional 1.5 trillion won ($1.35 billion) in expanding its eighth-generation LCD line, on top of the already earmarked 3 trillion won ($2.69 billion), market watchers say.

Yi said that a revision of its investment may be announced before the second-quarter earnings results will be announced in July.

Samsung’s mobile operating profit beat expectations, reaching 1.1 trillion won ($986.7 million). Samsung’s telecommunications division, which includes its handset business, posted a 12 percent operating profit margin, which Samsung ascribed to a reduction in marketing costs and strong sales of mid-end and high-end devices, especially touchscreen phones and messaging phones. Samsung expects a double-digit operating margin for its handset business this year, according to Yi.

A Samsung executive also said during the conference call that the company aims to achieve handset sales that would exceed its initial target of 270 million units this year. Samsung also expected that Android phones would account for more than half of its smartphones this year, while models based on its proprietary Bada platform will make up one third of its total smartphone models.
Yi said Samsung was developing a tablet-like PC which would challenge Apple’s iPad, and said the new model would hit the market after the first half of this year.

Samsung’s Digital Media division, which includes its TV business, saw its operating profit increase 11 percent to 520 billion won ($466.44 million) this year. Its TV sales reached a record high of 8.4 million units in the January to March period, up by nearly 50 percent from a year ago, driven by the growth of shipments to both advanced and developing markets, the company said.

Samsung shares jumped 2.9 percent at yesterday’s close, while the broader market rose 0.8 percent.

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27
Apr
10

Google Acquires LabPixies

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Google Acquires LabPixies
Google Acquires LabPixies For $25 Million

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Google has bought an Israeli company that develops mini-programs for the web known as widgets in the latest in a string of acquisitions.

The Mountain View, California-based Google announced the purchase of LabPixies in a blog post. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

LabPixies already makes widgets for iGoogle, Google’s personalised homepage service.

‘We decided that we could do more if we were part of the same team, and as such, we’re thrilled to announce the acquisition of Labpixies,’ Don Loeb, a member of the iGoogle team said.

‘The team will be based in our ever-growing Tel Aviv office and will anchor our iGoogle efforts across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa,’ Loeb said.

‘We are looking forward to working with Labpixies to develop great web apps and leverage their knowledge and expertise to help developers and improve the ecosystem overall,’ he said.

Besides iGoogle, LabPixies has also developed widgets for Google’s Android mobile phone operating system and the iPhone.

Widgets developed by LabPixies include calendars, news feeds, to-do lists and games.

Google has been on a buying spree for the past few months, snapping up a number of small startups including DocVerse, Picnik, Aardvark and Plink.

Chief executive Eric Schmidt said in a conference call with analysts in January that Google planned to acquire about one company a month this year.

● Ran Ben – Yair, CEO LabPixies, said, “We deal with Google to see a golden opportunity for our team to fit in workspace sharing with us the same desire – to millions of users the ultimate online experience.'”

● Prof. Yossi Matias, director of Google R & D Center in Israel, said, “We believe that the combination of LabPixies center staff will allow us to continue strengthening the web platform, and make it attractive than ever for developers and users around the world.” He added that “Google believes in innovation and creativity Israel, and will continue to pursue collaboration with – for start-ups in the future local.”
• Source(s): Google Inc. & LabPixies

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13
Apr
10

GAO piracy report: A deeper look

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GAO piracy report: A deeper look

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A report released by the Government Accountability Office questions Hollywood’s billion dollar losses claims, citing a lack of evidence as the main reason for the doubts. On the other hand, the Congress-commissioned report emphasizes that piracy may also benefit the entertainment industries and third parties.

The PRO-IP Act is a United Stated law that aims to combat copyright infringement by increasing civil and criminal penalties for offenders. As part of the Act, Congress has instructed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to quantify the impact of piracy on the economy. The results of this investigation have now been published in a report.

The report puts the claimed ‘massive losses’ by the entertainment industries in a different light. After having interviewed many experts and plowed through the relevant literature, GAO writes that it cannot make any solid conclusions about the financial effect piracy has on the economy as a whole.

“Lack of data hinders efforts to quantify impacts of counterfeiting and piracy,” is one of the main conclusions from the report.

One of the problems signaled by the GAO is that government officials admit that they simply reply on statistics and reports from the entertainment industries without conducting research on their own. These reports naturally lack transparency about the source of the figures and are often written to sell a political agenda through lobbying efforts.

Although the GAO report cannot make any strong conclusions on the financial impact of piracy and counterfeiting on the economy, the writers do note that piracy can have several benefits for consumers and businesses.

“Some authors have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business—such as movies—may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness,” the report states.

“For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.”

Another aspect that was mentioned is the positive impact piracy has on the revenues of third party companies. The example of routers is given in the report, but it is not hard to see that Apple’s iPod might also have benefited from the availability of pirated music.

“One expert also observed that some industries may experience an increase in demand for their products because of piracy in other industries. This expert identified Internet infrastructure manufacturers (e.g., companies that make routers) as possible beneficiaries of digital piracy, because of the bandwidth demands related to the transfer of pirated digital content,” the report reads.

One of the most interesting benefits of piracy mentioned in the report is that it encourages innovation, since this is the exact opposite of what copyright holders always argue. Unfortunately for consumers, this innovation is not always aimed at making a better product.

“While competitive pressure to keep one step ahead of counterfeiters may spur innovation in some cases, some of this innovation may be oriented toward anticounterfeiting and antipiracy efforts, rather than enhancing the product for consumers.”

The overall conclusion of the GAO is that they can’t put a number on what the financial consequences of piracy are for the economy. However, blindly trusting statics and reports from the entertainment industry is probably not a good idea, they say.

It is unclear at this point what impact the report will have on the legislation and anti-piracy measures as proposed by the PRO-IP Act.

Story Highlights:
▪ The development of technologies that enable the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works is widely recognized as leading to an increase in piracy.

▪ To the extent that counterfeiting and piracy reduce investments in research and development, these companies may hire fewer workers and may contribute less to U.S. economic growth, overall.

▪ The U.S. economy may also experience slower growth due to a decline in trade with countries where widespread counterfeiting hinders the activities of U.S. companies operating overseas.

▪ There is no government agency that systematically collects or tracks data on the extent of digital copyright piracy.

▪ Many of the experts we interviewed identified lost tax revenue as an effect of counterfeiting and piracy on governments. IP owners or producers of legitimate goods who lose revenue because of competition from counterfeiters pay less in taxes. The U.S. government also incurs costs due to IP protection and enforcement efforts.

▪ Some authors (of studies on this issue) have argued that companies that experience revenue losses in one line of business–such as movies–may also increase revenues in related or complementary businesses due to increased brand awareness. For instance, companies may experience increased revenues due to the sales of merchandise that are based on movie characters whose popularity is enhanced by sales of pirated movies.

▪ Commerce and FBI officials told us they rely on industry statistics on counterfeit and pirated goods and do not conduct any original data.

▪ According to experts and government officials, industry associations do not always disclose their proprietary data sources and methods, making it difficult to verify their estimates.

▪ There is no single methodology to collect and analyze data that can be applied across industries to estimate the effects of counterfeiting and piracy on the U.S. economy or industry sectors.

▪ The Business Software Alliance publishes piracy estimates based on a set of annual surveys it conducts in different countries. Based on its survey results, the industry association estimated the U.S. piracy rate at 20 percent for business software, carrying a loss of $9 billion in 2008. This study defined piracy as the difference between total installed software and legitimate software sold, and its scope involved only packaged physical software. While this study has an enviable data set on industries and consumers located around the world from its country surveys, it uses assumptions that have raised concerns among experts we interviewed.

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01
Apr
10

Topeka: A different kind of company name

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Topeka: A different kind of company name

Thursday, April 1, 2010

••• Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google.
We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.
We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.

In fact, Topeka Google Mayor Bill Bunten expressed it best: “Don’t be fooled. Even Google recognizes that all roads lead to Kansas, not just yellow brick ones.”

For 150 years, its fortuitous location at the confluence of the Kansas River and the Oregon Trail has made the city formerly known as Topeka a key jumping-off point to the new world of the West, just as for 150 months the company formerly known as Google has been a key jumping-off point to the new world of the web. When in 1858 a crucial bridge built across the Kansas River was destroyed by flooding mere months later, it was promptly rebuilt — and we too are accustomed to releasing 2.0 versions of software after stormy feedback on our ‘beta’ releases. And just as the town’s nickname is “Top City,” and the word “topeka” itself derives from a term used by the Kansa and Ioway tribes to refer to “a good place to dig for potatoes,” we’d like to think that our website is one of the web’s top places to dig for information.

In the early 20th century, the former Topeka enjoyed a remarkable run of political prominence, gracing the nation with Margaret Hill McCarter, the first woman to address a national political convention (1920, Republican); Charles Curtis, the only Native American ever to serve as vice president (’29 to ‘33, under Herbert Hoover); Carrie Nation, leader of the old temperance movement (and wielder of American history’s most famous hatchet); and, most important, Alfred E. Neuman, arguably the most influential figure to an entire generation of Americans. We couldn’t be happier to add our own chapter to this storied history.

A change this dramatic won’t happen without consequences, perhaps even some disruptions. Here are a few of the thorny issues that we hope everyone in the broader Topeka community will bear in mind as we begin one of the most important transitions in our company’s history:

    • Correspondence to both our corporate headquarters and offices around the world should now be addressed to Topeka Inc., but otherwise can be addressed normally.
    • Google employees once known as “Googlers” should now be referred to as either “Topekers” or “Topekans,” depending on the result of a board meeting that’s ongoing at this hour. Whatever the outcome, the conclusion is clear: we aren’t in Google anymore.
    • Our new product names will take some getting used to. For instance, we’ll have to assure users of Topeka News and Topeka Maps that these services will continue to offer news and local information from across the globe. Topeka Talk, similarly, is an instant messaging product, not, say, a folksy midwestern morning show. And Project Virgle, our co-venture with Richard Branson and Virgin to launch the first permanent human colony on Mars, will henceforth be known as Project Vireka.
    • We don’t really know what to tell Oliver Google Kai’s parents, except that, if you ask us, Oliver Topeka Kai would be a charming name for their little boy.
    • As our lawyers remind us, branded product names can achieve such popularity as to risk losing their trademark status (see cellophane, zippers, trampolines, et al). So we hope all of you will do your best to remember our new name’s proper usage:

Finally, we want to be clear that this initiative is a one-shot deal that will have no bearing on which municipalities are chosen to participate in our experimental ultra-high-speed broadband project, to which Google, Kansas has been just one of many communities to apply.
• Source(s): Eric Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Topeka Inc.
• (April Fools!!!)
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31
Mar
10

Google searches turn up empty

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Google searches turn up empty

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Internet users on the Chinese mainland who tried to conduct a Google search Tuesday most likely failed to obtain results while mobile services users reported partial blocking during the last two days.

Last week, users who attempted to use Google.cn were redirected to the Hong Kong website.

Users found out Tuesday that both the English site, Google.com, and the Chinese version of the search engine failed to return search results, although the homepages popped up.

AFP reported that its Shanghai reporter experienced no problems with the Google search engine.

But an Internet user in Shanghai said no search results came up.

The advanced search icon on both the English and Chinese sites were accessible.

A Google spokeswoman in Beijing told that they were aware of the problem but she was not able to say what caused it.

In the wake of Google’s decision to redirect Google.cn traffic to its Hong Kong website last week, Google also set up a website www.google.com/prc/report.html that was still accessible on the mainland Tuesday.

It provided daily status reports on the availability of its other popular services in China, including Doc, News, Mobile, Gmail, Blogger and Picasa service.

According to that website, Google’s search engine service on the Chinese mainland experienced “no issues” Tuesday but the mobile service was partially blocked on the mainland since Sunday.

The Google search engine on a reporter’s mobile phone, which uses Google’s Android mobile phone system, was working normally after it rerouted to Google’s Hong Kong sites in Wi-fi connections.

But Google search, maps and news service could not be accessed with the same mobile phone when it uses China Mobile GPRS data connection.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency & Global Times (China)
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31
Mar
10

Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

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Google blames China’s ‘great firewall’ for blocking searches

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Google’s search sites in China abruptly stopped working yesterday, but the explanation for the outage changed as the day wore on.

The Internet giant first blamed its own engineers, citing a technical glitch, but later reversed course and pointed to the heavy hand of China’s “Great Firewall” – even as service appeared to be back to normal.

The evolving explanation caught Google watchers by surprise and showed how fraught with confusion the relationship between China and Google remains.

The episode risks escalating their battle a week after Google stopped censoring its search engine in China.

Google struggled to discern the cause of the massive disruption, in which users received error messages for Google searches from China on the company’s Hong Kong-based search site, Google.com.hk.

Google began routing Chinese Internet users to its Hong Kong site last week as it said it would no longer comply with China’s censoring policies and wouldn’t run a censored Chinese search engine.

Later in the day, Google reversed itself, saying it had made those changes a week earlier.

“So whatever happened to block Google.com.hk must have been as a result of a change in the Great Firewall,” the company said.

Wang Lijian, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, one of China’s main Internet regulators, said he was unaware of any Google disruption.

Any permanent blockage of Google’s searches by China would deal a sharp blow to the company’s hopes of continuing to operate part of its business in the country after dismantling its censored Chinese site.

Google said last week that it hoped to maintain its music search and maps services in China, along with sales and research-and-development operations.

Beijing has expressed anger at Google for publicly flouting its censorship regime, and a decision to block access to Google entirely has always been considered possible.

Many analysts have believed Beijing would stop short of that for fear of infuriating Google’s tens of millions of regular Chinese users, not to mention foreign businesses that require access to information.

Because Google censored its old Chinese site, Google.cn, in accordance with government rules, that site wasn’t filtered by the government’s firewall.

Its international sites, such as the Hong Kong one, have always been subjected to filtering, meaning that Chinese users’ searches of some sensitive terms like those related to the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the initials RFA, for Radio Free Asia, or even the names of top leaders might trigger an error message from the browser instead of a results page.

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24
Mar
10

Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

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Google’s withdrawal from China pushing itself into corner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

•••Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese search engine and redirect mainland users to its servers in Hong Kong was tantamount to pushing itself into a corner and ruining its image and interests, world media and experts say.

“If Google had hoped to rally rivals to its cause, it failed. If Google was planning to embarrass China by whipping up a global debate on Internet freedom, it failed,” the Financial Times wrote in an article published Monday.

China trade economist Derek Scissors of the U.S. Heritage Foundation called Google’s move to Hong Kong “pretty close to a complete exit” that will provoke Beijing and puts Google outside the firewall with regard to advertisers and other partners.

Russian newspaper Vedomosti said Google has completely burned all of its bridges in China behind it and is unlikely to ever return to the Chinese market.

Google, the world’s top search engine, held only an estimated 30 percent share of China’s search market in 2009, compared with home-grown rival Baidu Inc’s 60 percent. Official statistics put the number of netizens in China at 384 million by the end of 2009.

Michel Riguidel, head of the Department of Computer Science and Networks at Telecom Paris Tech, said all companies pay great attention to building their own images.

Google claimed that its image is based on freedom, information exchange and respecting human rights, but the fact is that it absorbs large amounts of personal information and does research on the information without getting agreements from web users, Riguidel said.

Izumi Harada, chief fellow of the Crisis and Risk Management Society of Japan, told Xinhua that there is no question that multinational companies should follow local laws while running their businesses in other countries.

Google has breached the commitment to observe Chinese laws and regulations that it made when entering China (four years ago), he said.

Jesse Wright, a leading expert of Institute Internet, told a Russian radio station that Google has been working in China since 2005 and knows the requirements of Chinese law.

“Compliance with the requirements of the Chinese was a condition of work in this market,” Wright said. “So, trying to force China to reconsider its own censorship requirements – be it Google or others – it seems to me untenable.”

Alexey Basov, CEO and co-founder of Begun, Russia’s largest contextual ad service, said if Google quits the Chinese market, it will be a major strategic loss for the company.

At about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing time, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post, saying “users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored searches in simplified Chinese.”

In reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine media briefing that: “The Google case is just a business case and will not undermine China-U.S. relations unless someone politicizes the issue.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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24
Mar
10

Arguments over Google’s withdraw

NEWS
Arguments over Google’s withdraw

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google is also citing censorship in its withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market. Some netizens and experts say foreign companies should abide by the laws of the country.

Chinese Internet users and experts say abiding by the laws of the country is an established convention. They say all this applies to all companies, including Google.

A Chinese internet user said, “China has its own system and you have to abide by the laws in China if you want to do business in China. “

Shi Xiangsheng, Deputy Sec’y Gen., Internet Society of China, said, “The foreign Internet companies must promise to respect the local customs and laws when they start business in China. And it’s also the international convention.”

Google says another factor in the pull-out was attacks by hackers.

Shi said, “We are not quite clear about the hacker attack Google mentioned. But it did not appeal to the relevant regulator or ask the Chinese government to carry out investigations on the case. “

Some say it’s debatable that Google has completely withdrawn from China, as it transferred its search business to Hong Kong.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Google in hot water

NEWS
Google in hot water

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Google has recently been warned by several foreign authorities over its controversial services including Google news, Google street view, as well as the latest social network service Google buzz.

Last month, the European Union Commission said it had received various requests for anti-monopoly investigations regarding the Internet search giant. They claim Google has been filtering out its competitors on purpose in order to keep more advertisement profits.

In France, the government has formed a special team to investigate lawsuits filed by local media companies against Google. They accuse the company of profiting from their products without reimbursement. Another lawsuit was filed by Louis Vutton.

The luxury bagmaker said it has found links on Google’s website to pirated products. Italian authorities have also launched an anti-trust investigation against Google filed by the country’s print media.

Meanwhile, Google street view, which was introduced in 2007, has challenged privacy laws in Britain and Germany. Though the company has begun to obscure search results for human faces and car license plates, it is still frequently taken to court for violating privacy rights. Its latest social web service, Google Buzz, has also been accused of a privacy breach. The company was ordered by the Canadian government to explain privacy bugs, which have already triggered widespread complaints.

Google’s trouble seems to be everywhere. Recently Spanish telecom operator Telofonica accused the company of using free bandwidth for its own benefit. The company said it is considering charging Google for network use.
• Source(s): CCTV (China)
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24
Mar
10

Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

NEWS
Who will share the cheese after Google moves?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

••• Netizens said Tuesday Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland was only a “publicity stunt” while experts believed the online search giant had abandoned its cheese when no others moved it.

Google announced Tuesday morning that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and redirected Chinese mainland users to another portal in Hong Kong.

Google’s earlier threats to pull out of China and its latest move to reroute traffic to Hong Kong were just “publicity stunts,” said a netizen named Ding Wei on the Internet industrial network www,sootoo.com.

“Google’s redirecting Google.cn to Google.com.hk is a compromised decision reflecting that the company wants to save its reputation in China,” the netizen said.

Google said in Tuesday’s statement it still intended to continue research and development and maintain a sales staff in the Chinese mainland.

Experts interviewed by Xinhua said they believed Google’s latest move was mainly out of business and market concerns, adding that Baidu and other Internet companies doing business in China would benefit from Google’s withdrawal.

“Google faces censorship in about 25 countries, but why does it only quit the Chinese mainland? Because it can not beat Baidu,” said Dr. Wang Yu, a Nanjing University lecturer.

“Google does not give up its smart phone operating system Android or other partnerships with domestic Internet companies, because unlike Google.cn, they are all promising,” said Wang who specializes in network information studies.

The domestic search giant Baidu would not be the only beneficiary of Google’s exit.

“Google’s about 30 percent market share in search services on the mainland will be absorbed not only by search engine rivals but also companies doing other search-related businesses,” said Li Zhi, a senior analyst with Analysys International, a leading Chinese Internet consulting company.

According to Analysys, Baidu occupies about 60 percent of the market share. Sohu’s Sogou, Tencent’s Soso and other new-comers including Microsoft’s Bing were all eyeing Google’s share of the market, analysts said.

Microsoft’s Beijing office said in an email reply to Xinhua on Tuesday that the company regarded China as the most important online search service market.

“The pull-out is the price to pay for Google’s move of politicizing commercial issues,” Li Zhi said.

Sean Tzou, CEO of Trina Solar Limited, a U.S. joint venture based in Changzhou of Jiangsu Province, said the biggest challenge for many joint ventures in China was their willingness and ability to adapt to the local environment.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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23
Mar
10

Google case will not affect China – United States relations

NEWS
Google case will not affect China – United States relations
▪ China says Google issue will not affect China – United States ties

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

••• Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland will not affect China-U.S. relations “unless someone politicizes the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

Qin told a regular press conference the Google issue was a commercial matter and would not damage the image of China.

He said moves to tie the issue to the China-U.S. relations were “making a fuss” and “overstating the issue.”

The Chinese government encouraged and pushed for the openness of Internet and its management according to its laws and regulations, which was common practice in all countries, Qin said.

“What China is striving to prevent on the Internet is the flow of information that would pose a danger to national security and the interests of the society and the public,” he said.

“Any foreign company operating in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” Qin said.

China would stick to the strategy of opening-up and the principle of mutual benefits, and welcome foreign entrepreneurs to invest and do business in China within the law.

“We will create a sound environment for them,” he said.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said his company would “stop censoring” in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers operating in China and was reconsidering its approach to China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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22
Mar
10

China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

NEWS
China says Google breaks promise, totally wrong to stop censoring

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has “violated its written promise” and is “totally wrong” by stopping censoring its Chinese language searching results and blaming China for alleged hacker attacks, a government official said early Tuesday morning.

The official in charge of the Internet bureau under the State Council Information Office made the comments about two hours after the online search service provider announced it has stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and is redirecting Chinese mainland users to a site in Hong Kong.

“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said the official.

“This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts,” the official said.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond made the “stop censoring” announcement in a blog post at about 3 a.m. Tuesday Beijing Time, more than two months after the company said it had been attacked by hackers supported by the Chinese government and was considering pulling out of the Chinese market.

The Information Office official said relevant departments of the Chinese government talked with Google twice at its requests, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 25 respectively, to hear the company’s real intentions and demonstrate sincerity of the government.

“We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised (in the talks), …telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws, while it would be its own affair if it was determined to withdraw its service,” the official said.

“Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China, ” the official said.

He noted that the Chinese government encourages the development and promotes the opening-up of Internet.

“Online opinion exchanges are very active in China and e-commerce grows rapidly here. As facts have demonstrated, the environment for Internet investment and development in China is sound,” the official said.

“China will unswervingly adhere to the opening-up principle and welcomes foreign companies’ participation in the development of Internet in the country,” he said.

The official also vowed the government will provide good service to foreign businesses, adding Internet will maintain, as before, rapid growth in China.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)

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22
Mar
10

Google says its Google.cn site redirected

NEWS
Google says its Google.cn site redirected

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google Inc. on Monday said users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk.

The U.S. Internet company said in a blog posting that it intends to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there.

• Google to offer browser plug-in for privacy protection

Google is working on developing a browser plug-in that will let users opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics.

Google Analytics product Manager Amy Chang said that engineers had been working on the plug-in during the past years and it would become available globally in the coming weeks.

According to a study by University of California, Google Analytics had been used in 71 percent of roughly 400,000 top domains as of March 2009. Google-controlled web bugs are tracking users on 92 of the net’s top 100 sites.

Although widely used in the world, the tool, Google Analytics, has always been criticized for privacy infringement.

“Now, there is a solution to that,”said Chang,”The plug-in will give users the choice to fully opt-out of sending any information back to Analytics”.

Google Analytics is a tool for tracking and analyzing site traffic. If the plug-in is finally installed in a large proportion of netizens’ computers, website builders and advertisers might find it hard to get the accurate data of click rate.
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China)
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22
Mar
10

Google stops censoring in China

NEWS
Google stops censoring in China
• Google moves Chinese search to Hong Kong

Monday, March 22, 2010

••• Google has stopped censoring its search and news results in China and began redirecting visitors to Google’s Chinese-language service hosted in Hong Kong, making good on a threat in its high-profile standoff over censorship with Chinese officials.

The company said it is not pulling out of China and it will continue to host non-search services in China and intends to keep sales and research operations in China.

A Google spokesman said it is “too early to tell” what will happen to its roughly 600 employees in China, who may be reassigned.

David Drummond, the company’s chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post that the company’s Hong Kong site is “offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong”.

Mr Drummond said Google believes the move is a “sensible decision,” but said Google is “well aware that it could at any time block access to our services”. The company has also set up a site showing users which of its services are available in China and which are being blocked by the government.

“We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Mr Drummond wrote.

The announcement comes after months of suspense over the fate of Google’s Chinese business, which has been in jeopardy since January 12, when the company said it would stop censoring its search results after it was hit by cyber attack it traced to China.

Google said at the time that it was increasingly troubled by China’s attempts to limit free speech.

The White House said it is “disappointed” that Google and China couldn’t settle a months-old dispute over censorship, but respects the company’s decision to stop its censored web-search services in China, Dow Jones Newswires reported later.

“We are disappointed that Google and the Chinese government were unable to reach an agreement that would allow Google to continue operating its search services in China on its google.cn Web site,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.
Google said earlier that it will rout users to uncensored versions of Google Search, Google News and Google Images hosted in Hong Kong (Google.com.hk). The firm, which said in January that it was hit by a cyber-attack it traced to China, said it isn’t pulling out of the country, however.

Mr Hammer said in an email that the NSC was informed by Google shortly before its announcement.

“Google made its decision based on what it believed was in its interest,” Mr Hammer said. “We respect Google’s decision and refer you to the company for details. We have previously raised our concerns about this issue directly with the Chinese government.”

The matter is the latest in a series of disputes between Washington and Beijing, a list that includes the US’s concerns over China’s currency and China’s fury over a US arms deal with Taiwan.

Mr Hammer said US-Sino ties are “mature” enough to cope with differences of opinion.

• Source(s): The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones

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