Google Flips off the competition
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - In its ever-expanding realm of data manipulation and
getting one up on its opponents, Google has done it again with a service that
it says combines the best aspects of reading news in print with the advantages
of reading it online. Fast Flip is an application that lets users view and
share articles by being able to flip through them as they would a newspaper or
Readers can browse through what is essentially a large thumbnail image of the
publication or article page and content can sorted by subject, source or recent
stories. The only current limitation is the number of sources Google has
partnered with - only 39 publications are listed, but they do include the BBC,
the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Salon and a number of
Users can also rank articles so the system slowly "learns" their
preferences and there is a mobile version for the Android mobile phone
operating system and the iPhone. Google has stated that the service will run
its own display advertisements, but that the majority of generated revenue will
go to newspaper or magazine publishers.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft also launched a new service for its Bing search
platform this week in an effort to chip away at Google's search market share.
Visual Search presents a series of image galleries as opposed to traditional
text links to resources on the Internet, users do not even need to type in a
Company representatives cited their research as a driving factor to develop the
new technology: "A study conducted by Microsoft Research shows that consumers
can process results with images 20% faster than text-only results. So it's
clear that images play a big part in helping consumer's with a variety of
The system could be useful for product searching or identifying things
visually, such as birds or cars. The drawbacks are that it can take a while to
load up if you have a slow Internet connection; you need to install Microsoft
Silverlight (a video/animation/web application) to run it, and there have been
numerous online posts of the link not working if your regional computer
settings are outside of the US. The link is
Figures for the US search market released by research firm Nielsen last month
show Google hovering around the 65% mark while Microsoft rose to 10.7%.
Second-place Yahoo had a 16% market share.
AMD has upped the ante in the processor wars again by introducing a US$100 quad
core central processing unit or CPU. The Athlon II X4 620 is based on
45-nanometer technology, runs at 2.6 GHz, and is fully optimized for Windows 7.
The target market is mainstream desktops, and although AMD doesn't partake in
the fancy marketing and cheesy advertising that Intel does, the company can
provide fair bang for your buck.
The move comes as a counter-attack to rivals Intel, who are on the verge of
transitioning to 32-nanometer manufacturing; the chipmaker has released a
number of lower-cost 45nm quad core Nehalem processors recently, such as the
When the chips are down, Intel has been known to fight back and reports are
claiming that the company intends to ship a million Lynnfield Core i5 and Core
i7 processors by the end of the year. Intel's current cheapest quad core
processor is the Core 2 Quad Q8200 at US$163, so AMD is winning the
price-to-performance battle this month.
Google launched version 3 of its Chrome web browser this week and touted a 25%
speed increase with the updated version. The browser has finally moved out of
its beta phase to what Google calls "stable" or suitable for the general
Also included are a number of security patches, more HTML5 compatibility,
rise to the claimed performance increase. A redesigned tab page featuring more
customization of your favorite websites and an improved web address and search
bar, called Omnibox, are also included. Long-awaited Chrome versions for Linux
and Mac are in the pipeline and should be available before the end of the year.
Almost a year since its launch, Chrome has only managed to secure about a 2.8%
market share. However, Google has big ambitions for its baby browser, "If at
the two-year birthday we're not at least 5%, I will be exceptionally
disappointed. And if at the three-year birthday we're not at 10%, I will be
exceptionally disappointed," stated Chrome engineering director Linus Upson.
Research firm Net Applications put Microsoft's Internet Explorer at 67% global
market share for August, Mozilla's Firefox at 23% and Apple's Safari at 4%.
Market research firm IDC has released more depressing figures for the PC
industry, claiming that global shipments fell by 19.1% in the second quarter of
this year compared to the same period last year. It's not all doom and gloom,
though, as portable units, or netbooks, showed 44% growth, indicating a
possible change in industry trends.
The popularity of lower-cost, low-power consumption, mini-laptops continues to
increase as budget-conscious consumers opt for machines that can get the job
done as opposed to ones with bells and whistles. IDC figures do not predict the
worldwide PC desktop market to stop its decline until 2011, and figures for
portable computers are already on the rise.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.