MediaFile

Google’s Facelift: Meet the new “nav-bar”

Google’s Web search engine is getting a bit of a facelift.

The company said on Wednesday that Web surfers will begin to see a new column of tools running down the left side of all their search results, as well as a slightly new look for Google’s famous multicolor logo (the shadows on the Google logo will be less pronounced).

The logo redesign probably won’t excite anyone but the most obsessive corporate branding wonks, but the new left-hand navigation bar represents Google’s latest effort to evolve its search engine to the changing nature of the Web and the competition.

GOOGNAVBAR Google’s new left-hand tool bar presents a slew of options that allow web surfers to filter their search results according to various categories of information indexed in its massive databases, from blog posts to videos.

The selection of options changes according to each search query: a search for “NFL draft” for instance, delivers a navigation bar that allows the user to view the latest “Updates” (in which the search results are heavy on real-time fare like Twitter messages), as well as search results that include only “blogs” or “news.”

A search for “red shoes” produces options for filtering results to include only “Images,” “Books,” “Videos,” and “Shopping.”

Meebo enlists Google, Microsoft in new social networking standard

With social networking services booming, website operators are increasingly looking for ways to make their sites play well in the social world.

Witness the clutter of “share this” buttons on websites urging surfers to share a video or an article with a litany of social networking services that the user may or may not belong to.

xauth2Now Internet chat and toolbar company Meebo is introducing another option that it says will allow websites to custom tailor the experience to each visitor’s personal social networking predilections.

Microsoft’s Kin tries to improve your social life (video)

kinMicrosoft officially entered the feature-phone wars on Monday, unveiling its new Kin device at a media event in San Francisco.

It’s tough to stand out in the exploding phone space these days; just keeping all the new gadgets straight takes some work. Device makers are increasingly targeting specific slices, such as gamers or video lovers.

Microsoft made it clear who its target demographic is. BlackBerry can have the middle-aged businessman and road warrior, and Apple’s iPhone can have the trendy folks who can’t do without their 175,000 apps.

Apple’s Jobs and Google’s Schmidt: Let’s do coffee

An unusual — and unverified – photograph posted on the Internet by Gizmodo is triggering a minor sensation in tech circles.  Google and Apple may be at war, but — if this snapshot of CEOs Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt casually chatting over a coffee is to be believed — the generals of the two tech superpowers may have discussed matters of state via an intimate, streetside tete-a-tete on Friday.

According to Gizmodo, a perspicacious passer-by spotted Jobs and Schmidt at a restaurant in Palo Alto, California on Friday and duly relayed the resulting photos to the tech blog. Courtesy: Gizmodo

Courtesy: Gizmodo

For those who haven’t been following Silicon’s Valley favorite new drama: Jobs and Schmidt once sat on Apple’s board together and were allied in the battle against software giant Microsoft. But in recent years, the two chieftains have positioned their companies against each other, in markets like smartphones, mobile advertising and PC operating systems. And, according to some accounts, the relationship between the two has taken a turn for the worse.

Yahoo concerned about search share slipping (video)

Yahoo’s share of the online search market has been sliding gently since Microsoft introduced its revamped Bing last June. It’s something of a concern for Yahoo, which has teamed up with Microsoft on search advertising in an attempt to rival market leader Google. But it risks becoming an also-ran in the fast-moving business.

During a visit to Yahoo’s Silicon Valley headquarters last week, search chief Shashi Seth admitted to some worries, but said his service can bounce back if it can come up with features to lure new traffic and entice the 600 million customers already using its portal and e-mail service to try its search product as well.

Under the deal with Microsoft, which got regulatory approval last month, Bing provides the basic search results for Yahoo’s search engine, while Yahoo adds on its own features.

Google opens another app market

Online app stores are all the rage these days, whether for Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s handsets or Google’s Android mobile phone software.

Now Google has hung out a shingle for yet another Internet market. The Google Apps Marketplace, which the company launched on Tuesday night, represents Google’s latest move to expand beyond search and bolster its online software business.

GoogFlag1With the new apps market, other companies will be able to offer applications that enhance Google’s existing family of Web-based software which includes everything from word processing and spreadsheet software to the Gmail email product.

Microsoft-Yahoo deal means “Yahoo!” for all: Schneider

hilaryschneider_0034A day after EU regulators cleared Microsoft and Yahoo’s search partnership, Yahoo Americas EVP Hilary Schneider went “Yahoo!” when asked what the alliance means for everyone. “The deal means more money,” Schneider said at the PaidContent 2010 conference in New York on Friday.

With the unified search audiences of Yahoo and Bing, Yahoo’s sales team can do its job better by making the consumer experience more relevant as well as  improving the return on investment for advertisers and publishers, she said. “The more search queries you have in a single marketplace, the more the (search) algorithms can refine themselves… (bringing) more revenue per search for the publisher.”

That’s good news for members of the Yahoo newspaper consortium, Schneider said. Since these dailies are Yahoo’s search partners, the Microsoft-Yahoo alliance increases their returns and revenue as well. She estimated that in 2009, the partnership brought the newspaper industry $100 million in revenue, and “that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” But she declined to say how much Yahoo makes from the newspaper consortium.

Microsoft’s Mehdi sees Bing in the black

Microsoft’s Bing search engine hasn’t put a dent in Google’s mastery of the market yet, but executive Yusuf Mehdi thinks it could do so soon, once the search ad partnership with Yahoo is completed.

Bing might even make some money eventually, he suggested in an interview today, once advertisers start to see it as a creditable alternative to Google.

But how long does it have to achieve those goals? Microsoft has lost more than $5 billion in its online business in the last four years. The company keeps saying it is a long-term project, but surely it has to see results soon.

Bill Gates late to Twitter party

Bill Gates may have been one of the prime movers in the computer age, but now he’s  just another middle-aged late adopter.

Only this week, the  Microsoft co-founder got around to joining Twitter and launching his own website.

gates

His first Tweet (“Hello World”) set the ball rolling on Tuesday, and already he has almost 250,000 followers. Several of his tweets have been about raising money for Haiti earthquake relief.

CES: Ford’s Mulally digs hands-free, in-car Pink Floyd

Here’s Ford CEO Alan Mulally getting excited about the new MyFord Touch in-car tech system, launched today at CES.

First attempt cut short by lack of Internet access. He’s not the first CEO bedeviled by tech problems at the show, after a power cut delayed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote on Wednesday evening.

Second take shows successful launch of hands-free Pandora Internet radio. Pretty cool, despite choice of dinosaur-rock station.