January 22, 2011

Schmidt Out as Google CEO, Co-founder Larry Page will take charge

Google just dropped a bombshell: Eric Schmidt is out as CEO (as announced in the company's earings report. We'll be covering the company's earnings call, which is sure to have more on this.
He will step down from the role starting April 4, and co-founder Larry Page will take charge of Google's day-to-day operations as CEO. Co-founder Sergey Brin will devote his energy to strategic projects like working on new products.

Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership--all of which are increasingly important given Google's global reach. Internally, he will continue to act as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

Source: WebProNews

January 20, 2011

Google Voice Tests Number Porting

Google Voice users may soon be able to turn their cellphone numbers into their central Google Voice number for $20. The search giant recently started testing a number porting service for Google Voice with a small group of users. The feature requires you to cancel your mobile contract and move your phone number from your carrier to Google.

Google Voice is a freemium service that ties all your different phone lines, including your mobile device, office and home numbers, into one central phone number. If someone calls your Google Voice number, all your phones ring until you pick up the call on one of your phones. Google Voice includes other helpful services such as text messaging, voice mail transcripts and overseas calling rates.

One downside of Google Voice is that if the service is going to be of any use, you have to distribute your new Google Voice number to all your contacts. Otherwise, you will only get calls on your individual lines instead of routing calls through one central number. Google's new number porting service appears to solve this minor dilemma for a price.

On top of the $20 charge for moving your number to Google Voice, you have to cancel your mobile contract. That means you may also end up paying an early termination fee to your mobile carrier if your cellphone is still under contract.

The termination fees can end up costing you hundreds of dollars. Verizon came under criticism in 2009 when its fee went as high as $350, and there were reports last January that termination fees for the Google Nexus One handset on T-Mobile could reach $550.

To see if your account is sporting the new feature, log in to your Google Voice account and click on the "Settings" drop down menu in the upper right corner. Select "Voice settings" and you should see a port option under the "Phones" tab. Not all Google Voice users are seeing the new feature, so don't be surprised if it's not available.A Google spokeswoman, said, "We're continually testing new features to enhance the user experience. For a limited amount of time, we're making the Google Voice number porting process available to users. We don't have any additional details to share at this time, but plan to offer this feature to all users in the near future."

Engadget is also reporting that Google has pulled the number porting service, at least for now. Google said as early as 2009 that it wanted to provide a number porting service, so, as the Google representative said, you can count on seeing this service again.

Source: PC World

January 19, 2011

Google Chrome OS: Everything in the Browser Window

Think about how little you may use your personal computer’s hard drive anymore. Unless you keep a music or video collection, or store your e-mail locally instead of using a Web-based service like Gmail, you might not use it at all.With that in mind, Google has developed Chrome OS, an operating system for laptops that does just about everything inside a browser window. As a result, forthcoming Chrome OS laptops from Asus and Samsung due later this year will be lightweight, low-maintenance and, most of all, inexpensive.  Google’s chief executive officer, Eric Schmidt, has said the target price range will be $300 to $400 for a model that’s not a flimsy netbook.

I’ve got a prototype Chrome OS laptop supplied by Google, which is not available for sale. Called the Cr-48 — the name is the chemical symbol for an unstable isotope of the element Chromium — the matte-black notebook boots up Google’s Chrome browser in seven seconds, and reawakens instantly from sleep. It has no hot, spinning disk drive because it doesn’t need one to hold the small Chrome OS operating system. Sixteen gigabytes of solid-state memory do the trick.

The Cr-48 weighs less than four pounds and runs silent and cool. To stay connected to the internet, it packs both Wi-Fi and a Verizon 3G account that includes 100 megabytes per month of free data. There may be different options when the real products go on sale.

The prototype has two nice nerdy touches. One is the matte screen, rather than a glossy one, much better for reading and writing text instead of watching video. And there’s no Caps Lock key, because YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOUT ON THE INTERNET.

But can you really live inside a browser window all day and night? For many, the answer is yes. There are Web-based versions of just about everything these days. Plus, Google has created a Chrome Web Store full of apps that install inside its browser. Many are free. Some even work without a live Internet connection. By adopting a do-it-online mindset, you can perform just about any task as long as you’re connected.

Use Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo for email. Edit and review Microsoft Office files on the company’s Office Live site, or switch to Google Docs, which should work offline by the time Chrome laptops are available. Manage your personal finances on Mint. Edit and store photos with the free Aviary Photo Editor app. Build your music library on Grooveshark, Pandora or one of many other apps. Make phone calls using Skype or Google Talk.

To upload and download personal files, you can plug a disk or thumb drive into the Cr-48’s USB jack, or pop in an SD card. Many phones will also plug in as USB drives, so you can get your pictures off your phone and upload them to Aviary, Flickr or Google’s Picasa.

What can’t you do? There’s no way to sync your phone’s contacts to Chrome OS. And for now, printing is tricky. You have to use Google’s Cloud Print service to connect to a printer plugged into another computer. HP plans to sell printers this year that will let a Chrome laptop print directly.

Compared with a Windows laptop, a Chrome OS model will offer one big advantage: price. The Windows license for a laptop can run over $100. For a $400 computer, that’s a big part of the cost. Also, the much simpler operating system is likely to be virus-free and require little maintenance. It updates itself periodically over the Internet. And there aren’t many system configuration options to mess with, reducing another source of anxiety.

For people whose sole major computing task is uploading pictures to Facebook, a low-price, browser-only laptop that can upload and download files to plug-in storage seems like a cost-effective option. Without a disk or fan, or long boot times, it’s more relaxing to use, too.

Will these things sell? I think that, like netbooks and iPads, they’ll need to go viral and become a consumer fad if potential buyers are going to overcome their doubts that they’re somehow not getting a real computer.

Source: "The New York Times"