MediaFile

Google’s Schmidt wants to put you in a self-driving car

Google executives never miss a chance to talk up the futuristic self-driving cars the company is developing.

Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt gave an update on Google’s automotive efforts during a chit-chat with reporters at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley on Thursday.

“We have had conversations with all of the manufacturers globally, when politicians come by we love to put them in the car and drive them around at full blast,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt even revealed that Google maintains a little race course in a parking lot, where drivers can try to outgun the self-driving cars (typically a modified Toyota Prius).

“We ask you to race the Prius, inevitably the Prius wins against you,” said Schmidt.

Apple, Google and the price of world domination

In his first appearance at the World Wide Developer’s Conference as spiritual leader of the Apple faithful, CEO Tim Cook made it clear that he intends to not just further Steve Job’s vision but expand upon it. It’s never been more clear that Apple is intent on world domination.

Conspiracy theory? No. Try inescapable conclusion.

What else are we to make of Apple removing Google Maps from the iPhone? Google Maps was a core feature on the very first iPhone, but it will disappear in an iOS software update announced Monday at Apple’s developer conference.

Apple’s tension with Google is legendary. They began as friendly neighbors in largely complementary businesses – former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was even on Apple’s board. But after the introduction of the Android, Steve Jobs’s anger at Google’s entry into the mobile phone business was palpable.

Tech wrap: HP shake-up?

A change could be underway at the top at Hewlett-Packard. The company’s board convened on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of ousting CEO Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and may appoint former eBay chief Meg Whitman to fill in as interim CEO, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. HP’s board of directors has come under increasing pressure in recent months after a raft of controversial decisions has left investors uncertain of the company’s leadership.

Newly minted Apple CEO Tim Cook will try his hand as star presenter at an October 4 company event widely expected to include the launch of the latest version of the tech behemoth’s iPhone handset, according to a report on AllThingD. Sources told the website that the plan is to make the iPhone 5 available to consumers within weeks of the event. Apple has yet to officially announce or even acknowledge that the new device exists at all. For those tired of yet another story about a rumored release date, there was something akin to a confirmation on Wednesday from an unlikely source: former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Gore, an Apple board member, apparently told a tech conference that the next-generation phone will indeed be available next month. Oops?!

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to Washington on Wednesday to face critics who say his company has become a dominant and potentially anti-competitive force on the Internet. Schmidt told a Senate antitrust hearing that his company has not “cooked” its search results to favor its own products and listings, despite accusations to the contrary from senators and other Web companies.  “Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet,” said Republican Senator Mike Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. Google has been broadly accused of using its clout in the search market to stomp rivals as it moves into related businesses, like travel search.

Obama tech dinner photos offer fodder for Silicon Valley Kremlinologists

ObamaCarIt’s Kremlinology day in Silicon Valley as industry-watchers pore over the details of the two photographs released by the White House of President Obama’s big dinner with the lords of the tech world.

Who sat where, who was drinking what, and what does it all signify, were among the top questions under debate the morning after the commander-in-chief and fourteen guests broke bread at the house of venture capitalist John Doerr.

If proximity to the president is the key measure of clout, then Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Steve Jobs won top honors, with both executives flanking Obama at the dinner table, as can be seen in this picture.

Life after Google: Schmidt eyes talk show shtick

GERMANY/What do you do after ten years running one of the world’s most successful and feared companies?

If you’re Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, it seems the role of television talk-show host holds some appeal. The 55-year-old Schmidt, who in April will hand over day-to-day control of Google to co-founder Larry Page, has been working on developing a show that would feature him as the host, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.

The article does not say exactly what type of talk-show Schmidt wants to emcee.

Will Schmidt, who has toiled in the tech industry for decades, cast himself as a feel-good self-help guru a la Dr Phil, or might he see a model of inspiration in Jerry Springer’s tireless work chronicling the everyday dramas and disputes of regular Joes?

Wild news on Apple, Google changes? Not if you’re an analyst

It has certainly been an interesting week in Silicon Valley as two of the most closely watched companies in the world shuffled their executive suites. On Monday, Apple announced that its chief executive  and charismatic leader Steve Jobs was taking a temporary medical leave – his third since 2004  — a day before Apple released its quarterly results.  On Thursday, Google reported a stellar Q4 and dropped that Larry Page would be stepping into the role of chief executive, as Eric Schmidt takes up the executive chairman position.

Big news, right? So it’s surprising then that analysts who have the opportunity to quiz management during earnings calls failed to mention anything about the changes. Not one analyst asked about the C-suite during the Google and Apple calls. Google even made its three top executives, Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin available for short period on Thursday’s call. The three analysts in the queue pitched questions about the following subjects:  Google’s real estate purchase in New York,  government outreach and social networking plans.

from The Great Debate:

Google’s greatest skill – and challenge

GOOGLE/

By Jeff Jarvis
Jarvis is the author of "What Would Google Do?" and teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, "Public Parts", will be published later this year. The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods. In management, as in every other arena of business, technology, and media, Google broke every rule and made new ones. It should not be a shock that Eric Schmidt has stepped aside as CEO and made room for Larry Page. Schmidt was the prince regent who ruled until the boy king could take the throne while training him to do so. We knew that this would happen. We just forgot that it would. When I interviewed Schmidt a few weeks ago and asked about pressure over privacy, China, and lobbying, he said, “This is not the No. 1 crisis at Google.” What is? “Growth,” he said, “just growth.” Scale is Google’s greatest skill and greatest challenge. It scaled search (vs. quaint Yahoo, which thought it could catalogue this web thing). It scaled advertising (vs. the media companies that today don’t know how to grow, only shrink). It is scaling mobile (by giving away Android). It has tried to scale innovation (with its 20 percent rule)—but that’s the toughest. How does Google stay ahead of Facebook strategically? The war between the two of them isn’t over social. The next, great scalable opportunity and challenge is mobile, which in the end will translate into local advertising revenue. Mobile will give Google (or Facebook or Groupon or Twitter or Foursquare … we shall see) the signals needed to target content, services, search, and advertising with greater relevance, efficiency, and value than ever. As Schmidt told broadcasters in Berlin last year: “We know where you are. We know what you like.” Local is a huge, unclaimed prize. The question is how to scale sales. I have no special insight into the Googleplex. But I have to imagine that when the company’s three musketeers sat down and asked themselves what impediments could restrain their innovation and growth, they were smart enough and honest enough to finally answer, “us.” As well as their holy trinity worked setting strategy and reaching consensus—the one thing I did hear from inside Google was that nothing happened if they did not agree—it has become apparent that Google became less nimble and more clumsily uncoordinated. Google is working on two conflicting and competing operating system strategies, Android and Chrome. It bungled the launches of Buzz and Wave. It is losing talent to Facebook. It needs clearer vision and strategy and more decisive communication and execution of it. If it’s obvious to us it had to be obvious to them that that couldn’t come from Largey- plus-Eric. Google, like its founders, is growing up. It needs singular management. So let’s hope that Schmidt did his most important job well—not managing but teaching. Now we will watch to see who Larry Page really is and where his own vision will take Google. Will he give the company innovative leadership and can Sergey Brin give it leadership in innovation? I imagine we will see a new support structure for Page built from below now rather than from the side. I’m most eager to see how he will cope with speaking publicly for the company. Schmidt’s geeky sense of humor was not grokked by media. (When he set off a tempest in the news teapot saying we should all be able to change our names at age 21 and start over with youthful indiscretions left behind us, he was joking, folks. Really, he was.) Page is even less show-bizzy. As for Schmidt: I have gained tremendous respect for him as a manager, thinker, leader. His next act will likely surprise is more than today’s act. Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, Public Parts, will be published later this year.

The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods.

In management, as in every other arena of business, technology, and media, Google broke every rule and made new ones.

Sun Valley: Jane Goodall and the primary primates

John MaloneIt’s day three of the Sun Valley media conference and the event has started to feel like a Jane Goodall documentary, in which we’re Jane and the moguls are the apes who have become comfortable letting us observe and record their movements. Several media executives groggily making their way to the morning’s first session (scheduled to kick off at 7:30), stopped to chat with the throng of press waiting to greet them.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone voiced concerns about the economy for nearly 10 minutes while NBC’s Jeff Zucker, who once warned of the risks to media companies of trading analog dollars for digital pennies and later upped the exchange rate to dimes, posited the idea that the media industry was now within reach of collecting digital quarters. It’s change we can believe in.

Later on Thursday, Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt (who for reasons unknown has been toting a camera with a beefy zoom lens throughout the event, even after-hours at the bar on Wednesday evening) will hold his traditional Sun Valley press roundtable, possibly with co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who are here.

Sun Valley: Sling Media co-founder has questions about Google TV

(Updates to reflect correct name of Slingbox product)

Google is a few months away from releasing Google TV, its new service that blends television with Internet capabilities.

But at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, where the masters of media, entertainment and technology congregate every July to schmooze and talk shop, one attendee with experience mixing TV with the Web noted the challenges facing Google as it tries to conquer the living room.

The “entertainment experience is not just about having a search box and some great algorithms. We all want that and we all enjoy that part of the experience” but it’s only one part of the experience, said Blake Krikorian.

Inside Google’s M&A machine: 3 months, $145 million, 9 deals

It’s no secret that Google has been on a buying binge, snapping up tech start-ups at a rapid-fire pace. What’s less transparent is how much that spree is costing it.

How much money is forked over is mostly a matter for speculation. Google doesn’t disclose financial terms for most acquisitions and only a few of the deals have had financial details leak out onto the blogosophere.

So it’s a bit of a welcome surprise that TECHNOLOGY CESGoogle shed a little more light on the matter on Wednesday in a regulatory filing with the SEC, in which it said it paid a total cash consideration of $145 million for nine acquisitions in the first three months of the year.