MediaFile

Sun Valley: Google’s Schmidt likes to talk social

Social media is a big topic of discussion at Sun Valley. And Google, the king of Internet search, has been talking to the various players.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on Thursday that he’s “chatted” with the MySpace folks while at the conference, and noted that Google has had many conversations with Twitter in the past.

Google’s $900 million advertising deal with MySpace will expire next year. Some analysts believe any new deal will involve Google paying considerably less money to run ads on MySpace, whose popularity been eclipsed by Facebook.

Asked whether Google would pay $900 million again, Schmidt replied “we never say never.”

“Remember the economics are different, the traffic is different, market positions are different. That’s why these deals expire,” he said.

UPDATE-Sun Valley: Google and Twitter heads together

Spotting which executives are talking to each other is the No.1 spectator sport among the reporters at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where dealmaking is always in the air. And the action on Thursday did not disappoint.

The man pictured on the left, of course, is Google co-founder Larry Page. The backside of the right-hand dome belongs to Twitter CEO Evan Williams. The pair appeared to be deep in discussion in the conference’s private lunch garden on Thursday.

Twitter is the fast-growing microblogging site that was previously rumored to have been in acquisition discussions with Google. Twitter has repeatedly said that it wants to remain independent and that it’s not for sale. Was Williams telling Page the same thing in Sun Valley?

Google and Microsoft – lunch of the frenemies at Sun Valley

Google is moving to steal Microsoft’s lunch with its plan to release a PC operating system that competes with Windows. But when Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates crossed paths in Sun Valley on Thursday, lunchtime was all pleasantries.

As Gates was walking out from one of the morning conference panels for lunch, reporters naturally surrounded him to ask for his thoughts about the new Chrome OS announced by Google this week.

Before Gates had a chance to answer though, Schmidt appeared from behind and joked “it would be better if you don’t make that comment,” provoking laughter all around.

Analysts question T-Mobile’s choice of myTouch over Hero

 Some analysts worry that T-Mobile USA may have missed a trick by opting for a new Android device, myTouch 3G, which is mostly the same as HTC’s first one, the G, except for its slimmer shape and lack of a physical keyboard.

According to T-Mobile USA Chief Technology Officer Cole Brodman, the No. 4 U.S. carrier currently has no plans to sell Hero, another HTC phone that runs Google’s Android but has an updated user interface that looks similar in some ways to Palm Pre.

From today until July 28, T-Mobile USA customers can order the myTouch online with the potential to have their phones deliverd before its national launch stores on Aug. 5. Brodman says myTouch, with its nifty travel case, personalizable covers and T-Mobile recommendations for hot applictions, will appeal to a broader audience than G1. The idea is that myTouch’s sleek shape and Android’s straightforward user interface will encourage T-Mobile customers who had never bought a smartphone before to now consider this one.

For Google, less is more versus Microsoft

– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own – 
   
By Eric Auchard 

Sergey Brin eyes fellow Google co-founder Larry Page at launch of Google Chrome in Mountain View California on Sept. 2, 2008.

LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) – Google has entered the very lair of Microsoft by launching its own computer operating software.

Google’s Gmail says bye-bye beta

The test is finally over.

Five years after Google released Gmail, its Web email product, the company said the product is officially out of beta.

The change is part of a broader move that Google announced on Tuesday involving Google Apps, the company’s suite of online software products that includes Google Docs and Google Calendar, among others.

While many people are familiar with the free, consumer version of Gmail, Google also sells an enterprise-grade version of Gmail and the other applications to businesses for $50 per user.

Electronic health records in the land of Gotcha!

There needs to be at least a hint of political scandal for serious public policy discussions to qualify as news these days. Which is why reports that patients in the UK’s national healthcare system might be granted some some say in managing their personal health records after the next election gets largely lost in discussion of close ties between Google and Britain’s Conservative Party. This is a shame, because public debate over the promises and perils of electronic health record technology are long overdue. ******The tempest concerns Steve Hilton, considered one of Tory party leader David Cameron’s closest aides, who is married to Rachel Whetstone, Google’s vice president of global communications. The suggestion in some reports is that these links will make it difficult for the party to include Google in any plan to give citizens the choice of storing their health records with private companies such as Microsoft or top UK private insurer Bupa. Google would have to get busy quick, as currently, its health records service is designed only for the United States. And it has had trouble gaining traction there. As an opposition party, the Conservatives’ views on the subject are relevant because they currently enjoy a wide lead in polls over who might win the next national elections.******Electronic health records could offer broad benefits, if ever implemented.  But many issues must be resolved. The medical profession has long resisted adopting any plan that would help patients second-guess treatment decisions by their physicians. There remain vast problems with how to incorporate old medical records with any degree of accuracy into an electronic record. There are nagging questions about how to create common formats to share all the different types of information that might be included in a health record — from scribbled prescription orders to faxes to database records to X-rays and so on. There are commercial issues over how to balance the interests of patients, medical providers and “payors,” or insurers. Then there is the chicken and egg question of how to get these institutions involved and who will move first. Perhaps the most cripling issue is patient privacy and how to ensure that intitmate personal information is not released. ******In an April speech at the Conservative Party’s spring conference, Cameron spoke of replacing the National Health Service’s (NHS) centralized patient database with a distributed patient health record system that grants some powers to patients to manage their own information. He claims a private plan would “cost virtually noting to run”, in contrast to the Labour government’s £12.7 billion current upgrade of health information systems that does not include measures to give patients more control over their records.***

“People can store their health records securely online, they can show them to whichever doctor they want. They’re in control, not the state.***And when they’re in control of their own health records, they’re more interested in their health, so they might start living more healthily, saving the NHS (National Health Service) money.***But best of all in this age of austerity, a web-based version of the government’s bureaucratic scheme services like Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault cost virtually nothing to run.”

***Paul Stevenson, a spokesman for the Conservative Party on health policy, confirmed his organisation has commissioned an independent report by the British Computer Society looking at issues involved in implementing a more decentralised approach to electronic patient records. He declined to comment on specifics of the party’s plan, but said a response to the BCS report will be released in a few weeks time. “What the report does look at is how to move to a bottoms-up approach in NHS computing rather than a top-down approach,” Stevenson said.******The public’s attention span is never long for complex medical issues.  Note the relative inattention paid to public health preparations since the global swine flu panic of April. As we head into the silly season of late summer news, expect medical privacy scare stories to reach a fevered pitch.  The near-term prognosis is not good. ******(Images: TheInsider.com; Times Online; Google Health)

Tuesday media wrapup

News about the media industry:

Google Makes a Case That It Isn’t So Big (NYT)
“Google has begun this public-relations offensive because it is in the midst of a treacherous rite of passage for powerful technology companies — regulators are intensely scrutinizing its every move, as they once did with AT&T, I.B.M., Intel and Microsoft,” writes Miguel Helft.
> Graphic about Google share of all ads and online ads (Lost Remote)

Media and cable now the riskiest sector (Reuters)
“Default risk for the media and cable sector has risen from its already high levels a year ago, CreditSights said. Rising leverage, along with a protracted decline in advertising revenues that was accelerated by the U.S. recession, are behind the higher risk,” writes Dena Aubin.

Sun-Times seeks more time to reorganize (Crain’s)
“Lawyers for Sun-Times Media are asking for three more months to come up with an exit strategy, a request they considered “neither surprising nor remarkable.” The publisher currently has until July 29 to submit a reorganization plan,” writes Lorene Yue.

Yahoo and Google spice up ad offerings

The battle to build the best Internet search engine gets plenty of press.

But with the economy in the doldrums, the Internet giants are also engaged in a heated race to improve their advertising offerings.

Yahoo and Google, the top two search sites in the US, are rolling out new features and services designed to grab a bigger slice of the advertising dollars that businesses spend to hawk their wares.

On Monday, Yahoo unveiled a self-serve display advertising service which allows companies to create their own online ads.

Google’s YouTube money hole not as deep as feared

How much money is Google losing from YouTube?

Not as much as you think, according to a new report by an IT research and consulting firm.

The cost of streaming billions of videos a month, and Google’s difficulties monetizing those videos, has put YouTube on track to lose almost a half billion dollars this year, according to a famous report by Credit Suisse released in April.

But that report failed to take into account key aspects of the Internet infrastructure business that significantly lower YouTube’s costs, says RampRate, a San Francisco firm that consults companies on IT outsourcing practices.