Google Struggles in China

Google Search Engine Struggles in China
Google’s decision to redirect its China-based website to Hong Kong could have major consequences – but not yet for Google users in China. The US firm is now offering unfiltered services through this website, but search results are still being censored in mainland China.

Sensitive information that was not accessible before is still being blocked by the Chinese government.

And some other services – such as free music downloads – are still available in China, as they were previously, through the internet firm’s google.cn site. Google announced on Monday that it had stopped censoring search results for news, images and other information.

However, Google’s search results were not just being censored by the company itself – they were also being censored by the Chinese government. So even though Google is now providing unfiltered information, China’s internet screening programme, known as the Great Firewall, is still at work. The effect is that many search results on google.com.hk are still unavailable in China.

Dotcom Celebrates Silver Anniversary

The internet celebrates a landmark event on the 15 March – the 25th birthday of the day the first dotcom name was registered.

In March 1985, Symbolics computers of Cambridge, Massachusetts entered the history books with an internet address ending in dotcom. That same year another five companies jumped on a very slow bandwagon. It took until 1997, well into the internet boom, before the one millionth dotcom was registered.

“This birthday is really significant because what we are celebrating here is the internet and dotcom is a good, well known placeholder for the rest of the internet,” said Mark Mclaughlin, chief executive officer of Verisign the company that is responsible for looking after the dotcom domain.  Who would have guessed 25 years ago where the internet would be today” he said.

An estimated 1.7 billion people – one quarter of the world’s population – now use the internet. Verisign’s Mr McLaughlin only sees that figure growing over the next quarter of a century. “I think that the way we access information today, mostly still through PCs and laptops is highly likely to change; that the voice will be more important than text input.

“I think the whole fabric of how we access, search, find and get information is going to be radically different.” At the moment Verisign logs 53 billion requests for websites – not just dotcoms – every day, about the same number handled for all of 1995.

“We expect that to grow in 2020 to somewhere between three and four quadrillion,” Mr McLaughlin told BBC News. It is a phenomenal pace of growth that would have been very difficult to predict 25 years ago when a small computer firm took the first pioneering steps into the connected world.

Google, Where TV meets the Internet

Google, Where TV meets the Internet
Yesterday came news that Google, the billion-dollar gorilla of the internet, is trialling a new TV project with the No 2 satellite broadcaster in the US, Dish Network, which will install Google software in set-top boxes. Google, it is reported, wants to start making it easier to search for – and within – the television shows available on Dish Network, and move into the lucrative area of selling television ads, something that has previously been the preserve of the broadcasters and cable firms themselves. It’s an experimental project that Google and Dish Network have going, not one they are ready to discuss publicly, but ambitions of Google in this space have long been big.

This is the internet and TV colliding. Or, as the industry calls it, converging. James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, says viewers are desperate to bring the everything-on-demand philosophy they have got used to on the internet to television. His firm estimates that 9 million Americans already connect their laptops to the television to watch videos – everything from camcorder clips, through YouTube and Hulu (a broadcaster-funded venture similar the BBC’s iPlayer), to movies downloaded via file-sharing services.

“Internet-connected television is already happening in the US in larger numbers than people are aware. It is just that to people are doing it in a DIY capacity. This is not rocket science any more: you walk your laptop into the living room and use a VGA cable to connect it to your TV. But while it is not rocket science, it is not drop-dead simple either, so the fact that 9 million people do it even periodically is amazing.

EU Moves to Limit Mobile Internet Bills

EU Looks to Prevent High Mobile Internet Bills
A new Europe-wide rule to prevent mobile phone users from building up large bills for surfing the internet via their handset has come into force. Customers can now require their phone firm to cut them off when their bill reaches a certain level after accessing the internet in other European nations.

If users do not put in place a limit by 1 July, it will automatically be set at 50 euros ($65; £45). The phone firms will have to warn users when their bill hits 80% of the limit. Accessing the internet via your mobile phone while abroad is called “data roaming”.

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: “Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers’ confidence to use mobile networks to surf the internet when travelling around Europe.

“Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the internet to its full potential.”

The Commission added that if service providers did not honour people’s set spending limits, national regulators would deal with complaints and impose any necessary sanctions.

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the move was likely to reduce the cost of data roaming across Europe.

“This measure is likely to bring down the cost of data roaming, because if people stick to their own cash limits and find they don’t get much access to the internet for their money, the tendency will be to bring down prices so you get more surfing for your money,” he said.

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Microsoft to Offer Browser Choice

Microsoft Browser Opportunity
Microsoft is to send a message to millions of its users across Britain and the rest of Europe inviting them to consider using rival software like Firefox or Google Chrome.

The move is part of a settlement of a long-running dispute with the EU about the way Microsoft uses its dominance to promote its own web browser. Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, reports on how millions of people who have never really thought about which browser to use will now be able make a choice.