This year’s April Fool from the Googlers. In an April class in 2008 an earnest student explained Google’s radical new product, Google Custom Time–“just click ‘Set custom time’ from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient’s inbox . . . How does it work? Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality . . .” Some students nodded appreciatively. He was so serious and impressed by Google’s engineering wizardry. I couldn’t let a 20-year old college student walk around in the wide world believing it to be real, but I felt like the Grinch when I explained it was an April Fool’s joke.
True or false? All publicity is good publicity.
False. The New York Times reports that Vitaly Borker, owner of the DecorMyEyes website who threatened customers to generate publicity that would push his site higher in Google search results, last week was sentenced to four years in prison and $100,000 in restitution and fines. (See prior post.) After The New York Times broke the story in November 2010 Google changed its search algorithm to ensure that “being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results.”
Perhaps Borker’s lawyer’s leniency argument sounded better in court than it does in the Times article:
Mr. Amorosa also contended that only a tiny fraction of Mr. Borker’s customers were threatened and that his business was otherwise a thriving enterprise. DecorMyEyes had thousands of repeat customers, he said, and millions of dollars in revenue.
“He threatened, horribly, 25 people,” Mr. Amorosa said, suggesting that was a small number, given the scale of the company.
To pull students’ noses out of my Internet Law Casebooks and their minds away from exegesis of the Sleekcraft factors in adword-based trademark infringement claims we will discuss No More Innovation for the Fun of It in Tuesday’s pre-midterm Internet law class. Is “[t]he Internet, with corporations sniping at each other and blithely ignoring major privacy violations,  on the verge of the same fate as the true-blue American industries before it: losing its sense of fun[?]”
One thing you can take to the bank: my exams have not lost their sense of fun.
I just learned that I am the prototypical Google+ user. Comscore reports that in January the average user spent 3.3 minutes using Google+–that’s 3.3 minutes for the entire month, not each day. That is, I recall, exactly how much time I spent on Google+ in January: 198 seconds, staring at the screen, wondering what to do with it. However, I am not the average Facebook user, who during January spent 7.5 hours on that site.
Wired offers an interesting perspective on Why Google+ Pages (Will) Beat Facebook, and Twitter.
Google+ Pages are where businesses interact with web denizens on the cutting edge of net technology, and Facebook is where you interact with everyone else. Facebook boasts 800 million users, while Google claims 40 million. Google’s limited audience isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For now, Plus streams generally contain “non-frivolous” information. A company’s message isn’t lost amid a sea of random pictures and cat videos. Of course, this may change. But more importantly, Google integrates Plus into its web-dominating search engine . . . This is where Google will have an advantage over Facebook: With a broad array of services like search and Gmail and Chrome and Android, Google offers tools that are fundamental to the online lives of so many people — and these can be tied to Google+. As Google+ evolves, Google will have the means to promote its social network — and the branded Pages within it — in ways that Facebook or Twitter cannot.
A brief story about a recent interview with Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior Vice President of Social Business, reported that Google is “continuing to work on how Google+ shares information to the world. Google’s social lead seems to be less inclined [than Facebook] to create tools that automatically push data public than Facebook does. ‘There’s a reason every thought in your head does not come out of your mouth,’ Gundotra said, adding that there’s a value in curation.” (Emphasis added)
The NY Times explains the patent-based reasons for Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility: “In the World of Wireless, It’s All About Patents.”
I’ve blogged recently (here and here) about businesses that acquire patent portfolios for the sole end of aggressive litigation intended to force royalty deals (as opposed to, say, acquiring patents to exploit their technology). Google’s planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility will give it control of MM’s portfolio of 17,000 patents to, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “defend itself against a rash of lawsuits against its Android software.” The Journal reports that also, “[b]esides countersuing in the event it is attacked, Google could use the Motorola patents to lend a legal hand to Android partners such as HTC Corp., which is entangled in litigation with Apple over Android.”
The prior post was timely. The Official Google Blog just ran a post titled When Patents Attack Android describing “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.” The culprits paid $4.5 billion for Novell’s and Nortell’s old patents–five times their pre-auction estimated worth of $900 million and $1.5 billion more than Google’s bid–and are “seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device[,] attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7.” Let’s get ready to rumble!