Google is Making a Healthy Profit on the Nexus 7 After All

Google and Asus may be turning a healthy profit on the Nexus 7 Android tablet after all. The Google Nexus 7 is one of the best and cheapest Android tablets to date, and was launched last month at Google I/O 2012. It is priced at $199 for the 8 GB version and $249 for the 16 GB version, and comes with some impressive hardware running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

When it was launched, everyone assumed that Google and Asus might be selling each tablet either at break-even levels or making just a tiny profit on each tablet, just like the Amazon Kindle Fire.

However, a recent iSuppli component teardown of the Google Nexus 7 suggests that they might actually be making a decent profit on each unit sold.

According to the IHS iSuppli analysis, the 8 GB Nexus 7 costs nearly $151.75 to build, while the 16 GB Nexus 7 costs around $159.25 to build. This means a neat profit margin of around 24% on the 8 GB variant and 36% on the 16 GB variant.

This means that Google or Asus are definitely fighting off the domination of the Apple iPad to gain market share, but not at the expense of their profit margins. It also means that should Apple choose to launch an iPad Mini, it could launch a similar tablet with higher margins given its excellent economies of scale and Tim Cook’s operational genius. Apple could also easily charge a premium and price its iPad Mini at around $299, ensuring a much juicier margin.

via AllThingsD

[Editorial] Post Penguin Update, Can Competitors Harm Your Site Through Link Bombs?

penguin1On April 24th 2012, Google introduced another major update to its algorithmic filter , better known as The Penguin update. Similar to the Panda update, Penguin has produced disastrous results, literally killing the organic traffic of thousands of “over optimized” sites in one shot. Penguin was launched to address the issue of “over optimization”, filter sites who don’t adhere to Google webmaster quality guidelines and use black hat SEO techniques to manipulate rankings.

Penguin is surely more dangerous than Panda, because once you have bought 6000 links from paid directories, it is very difficult, if not impossible to undo that effect. Panda can be cured if you improve or remove low quality content from your domain but the issue of spam links is sometimes, beyond your control.

Let me get this straight. If you buy links from SEO firms or do link exchanges with random sites, stuff your pages with keywords and phrases that don’t flow or read well, there is a high chance that your site will fall in the Penguin pit. Penguin takes link spam very seriously, any manipulation and you’re in big trouble.

Moving forward from the usual talk, the big question is – can your competitors harm you through link bombs? What if one of your competitor tries to bolster you by buying paid links from thousands of sites?

According to Penguin’s principles, if your backlink portfolio looks unnatural and deceptive, the rankings of your site is going to suffer. Big time. Over optimized anchor text is another big factor; Google scans all the links pointing to your domain and if Penguin finds that the Anchor texts are very similar and have been intentionally manipulated for better rankings, the Penguin filter is thrown on your face.

Before I put up a test case, lets understand the scenario of a legit site that got hit by Penguin update. The reason why I am citing this example is that the site in question did nothing wrong, but Penguin “thought” that it was manipulating rankings through over optimized Anchor text. Got Hit By Penguin observed their organic traffic from Google taking a nose dive, as they discovered that they were hit by the introductory Penguin update on April 23rd 2012. Here is a screenshot James has shared in the Wpmu blog


Upon inspection, James and his team found that the penalty was directly linked to low quality links pointing to their domain. Where and how did these links originated in the first place? Well, you guessed it –Footer links from free WordPress Themes.

Lets hear James’s explanation on this.

1. You create and released a really great WordPress theme, for free.
2. Some spammer decides to use it on their sploggy / nasty / low quality / keyword stuffed pages.
3. You get penalized for that.

This is insanely ridiculous. I don’t care what negative SEO, Penguin or any algorithm is, I’ve done nothing wrong, built and gave away my work for free. Now this is the reward I am getting. Wow!

How am I responsible if thousands of spammers use my free WordPress theme and there is a link in the footer pointing to my domain? Isn’t it natural that I place a link in the footer to let people know that I have developed this WordPress theme? I am not manipulating PageRank and neither I am buying or trading links.

Here is an interesting comment.


Blaming Google or cursing Penguin isn’t going to help but according to Matt Cutt’s advice

If you’ve cleaned and still don’t recover, ultimately, you might need to start all over with a fresh site

What that means is I have built something for years, tons of thousands of people have used my work in their good, bad, horrible, spam sites and one day, some algorithm “thinks” that I have bought all these links and penalizes me. Now, either I have to beg to all those spammers to remove my credit links or I have to start all over again . Doesn’t make any sense, no?

The Recovery Story Of

Ross Hudgens and James Farmer agreed to begin their hunt for Penguin and get out of the Penguin filter. They did made a lot of changes, took down massive number of incoming links from thereby fixing the ratio of sitewide links / anchor texts. Additionally, the team had to email bloggers to take down footer links that point to and since the site had hundreds of thousands of links, this was meant to be an ongoing effort.

Meanwhile, the site made a full recovery from its original hit from the Penguin update.


Now is a big brand and they were able to get this specific use case in front of Google and the greater SEO community that highlighted it. This might not be the case with you. It is unlikely to get the same media coverage and attention, rather claim it.

This comment from Ross put it as straight as an arrow:

It’s smart marketing, for sure. If you really deserve to be ranking, shout it out loud. Either you’re going to quickly find out why you don’t deserve to rank, or Google will realize there’s a hole there and potentially correct if a hole really does exist.

Unfortunately, the benefits of such a strategy are diminishing already – media cares less and less, especially the further away it gets from a Google update. So, James was definitely smart to get this in front of the media and capitalize on the press – but more so, he was smarter in that he had already built a business deserving to rank well on Google – turns out the rest tends to just figure itself out.

Now the bigger question is – what am I supposed to do if my competitor is engaging my site in black hat techniques? For example, earlier SEO’s were focused on buying links for their domain. Now that things have changed, what if someone pays some SEO guy to do black hat SEO for my site? This is something beyond my control and there is no way I can prevent people from distributing spam links on forums, directory sites or a link wheel.

There is a support page on Google Webmaster help which reads:

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

Prior to this, the same page used to read the following (highlights by me) [h/t SER]:

There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

I feel pity for those people who don’t have any clue what PageRank is, what is Google Webmaster Tools, neither have they heard about Panda or Penguin.

Nobody really knows whether it is really possible to harm a competitor through sale of spam links. If you can harm yourself through spam links, you can always use the same techniques to harm a competitor’s site as well. Who is going to determine the “intent” and “source” of the spam behavior? Link manipulation is link manipulation, regardless of whether it’s the site owner purchasing links to improve rankings, or a third party doing it to take down a competitor.

There is no rule book of spam.

Of course, negative SEO is a fairly unexplored ground but if this works (God forbids), sooner or later all those SEO’s are going to find a way around it. Previously, Google did a good job ignoring the volume and quantity of links that seemed irrelevant. The philosophy – incoming links from third party sites can either improve your ranks or have no effect whatsoever, was perfect.

Now that this negative SEO (in theory of course) is in place,  I can’t elevate my site but I can try to corrupt the reputation of my competitor. Lets just buy paid links from porn sites and spam the whole web with repetitive anchor texts, it will show an effect sooner than later.

Congratulations. Search engine optimization becomes search engine warfare.

P.S: The following video by Matt Cutts gives some hints but tells nothing about negative SEO and things a legit webmaster should do, if he finds that his competitor is trying to destroy the reputation of his site through external deceptive behaviour.

Google Officially Owns Motorola Mobility; Names Dennis Woodside As CEO

Just hours after getting a green signal from Chinese regulators, Google has announced that it has closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility today.

Initially, China was skeptical that Google might create a lock-in situation for its Android OS which might which might have affected number of low-cost Android device manufacturers in China who rely on the Android ecosystem created by the Open Handset Alliance. However, Google promised that it will keep Android free and open for at least another five years.

Motorola Mobility CEO, Sanjay Jha will be replaced by Google’s Dennis Woodside. With the acquisition Google gets hold of 17,000 patents to protect itself from potential lawsuit that seems to drive dirty financial side of tech space these days.
From Google’s Blogpost:

It’s why I’m excited to announce today that our Motorola Mobility deal has closed. Motorola is a great American tech company that has driven the mobile revolution, with a track record of over 80 years of innovation, including the creation of the first cell phone. We all remember Motorola’s StarTAC, which at the time seemed tiny and showed the real potential of these devices. And as a company who made a big, early bet on Android, Motorola has become an incredibly valuable partner to Google.

Sanjay Jha, who was responsible for building the company and placing that big bet on Android, has stepped down as CEO. I would like to thank him for his efforts and am tremendously pleased that he will be working to ensure a smooth transition as long-time Googler Dennis Woodside takes over as CEO of Motorola Mobility.

I’ve known Dennis for nearly a decade, and he’s been phenomenal at building teams and delivering on some of Google’s biggest bets. One of his first jobs at Google was to put on his backpack and build our businesses across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia. More recently he helped increase our revenue in the U.S. from $10.8 billion to $17.5 billion in under three years as President of the Americas region. Dennis has always been a committed partner to our customers and I know he will be an outstanding leader of Motorola. As an Ironman triathlete, he’s got plenty of energy for the journey ahead–and he’s already off to great start with some very strong new hires for the Motorola team.

Google’s Expensive Street View Misadventure is One Guy’s Mistake!

Between May 2007 and 2010, Google gobbled up enormous amounts of Wi-Fi data, when it actually set out to capture street-view images. This has been the hottest case of privacy breach in the last decade. For a company that believes in “don’t be evil”, Google made a terrible mistake in doing this. The mishap was discovered by European data-protection authorities. Initially, Google claimed that capturing Wi-Fi data would let it improve location-based services. When under some more pressure, Google jumped in with a clarification, saying it collected only fragments of data. Though finally, in 2010, Google acknowledged that it collected entire payloads from Wi-Fi networks with all kinds of personal data (emails, passwords, internet usage data and alike).

The case has been under investigation, and recently, Google has released an FCC report, where it holds a rogue engineer liable for capturing payload off Wi-Fi networks. The engineer in question wrote a code to capture Wi-Fi data and put it into the Street View code. However, the engineer was not available for talks as he invoked his Fifth Amendment right and refused to comment.

The FCC report also talks of other people at Google who were aware of the intentions of this engineer. The engineer drafted a proposal of his work and presented it to the Street View team in October 2006. Now, managers of the Street View team claim that they never read the document presented to them by the engineer! To add to the confusion, a second engineer who did a peer code review for our rogue engineer’s Street View code found no mechanism to capture Wi Fi data.

Nonetheless, Google has come out of this investigation clean. The FCC declared that Google did not capture Wi Fi data illegally, but fined Google for $25,000 for stalling the investigation.

After thoroughly reviewing the existing record in this investigation and applicable law, the Bureau has decided not to take enforcement action against Google for violation of Section 705(a). There is no Commission precedent addressing the application of Section 705(a) in connection with Wi-Fi communications.

Read the full report on the FCC investigation.

(Via: LA Times)

Google Account Activity Generates A Monthly Summary Of Your Entire Google Account Usage

If you are too curious to know what Google knows about you and how much personal information of yours is stored on your Google account, here is some good news. Google has added a new opt-in service called “Account activity” – a periodical account summary which gives a thorough detail of what Google services you use everyday and how much Google knows about you. Account activity can be termed as an extension of Google dashboard; it can be used to monitor your entire Google account usage across all Google services under one umbrella.

Here is an example report which Google shared in their official blog post:


Account-Activity final

Account activity goes way beyond Google dashboard, which is in some ways limited to your Google account settings only. For example, account activity keeps a log of all the browsers you have been using recently, your sign in locations and the number of emails you have sent or received in the last 30 days. Additionally, Google will also show your web history, visited places and provide a quick overview of how you spend time with different Google services. This adds an extra layer of security to your Google account, as you will be able to know whether your account was used from an unknown device or from an unknown location.

It has been a few weeks since Google’s unified privacy policy was brought into effect. This new privacy policy gives Google the right to share your data between any Google service you are using. Gmail, YouTube, web search, Google Maps, Google Reader and your usage across all other Google products is tracked algorithmically, so that you can be served better. This account activity feature just makes the whole game a bit more transparent. Google has not mentioned any connection of account activity with the recent privacy policy changes but I am sure this is a way to make users feel more comfortable about their Google account. For your information, Google is not collecting any new data about you and neither Google is forcing this account activity feature for every Google account by default.

If you feel too paranoid about your data, you can of course use the very useful takeout service and export all your data out of Google. I haven’t got my report yet but looking at the sample, I think it is pretty basic and not as full featured as Google Analytics is. Of course I am not comparing the awesome site stats program with a private information outlet but I would be more excited, if the account activity page is more detailed in nature.  As it appears now, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

But then, something is better than nothing.

Google Offers Oracle A Small Cut of Android Revenues; Oracle Refuses

Oracle’s patent infringement lawsuit against Google has gone from being outrageous in terms of the money demanded, to being boring in just a few months.

It had initially demanded more than $6 billion from Google, claiming that Google infringed on its Java IP in Android. Following a scolding from the presiding judge, Oracle lowered its damages claims to $2 billion, and finally brought it down to under $100 million last week.

This week, Google apparently offered Oracle a flat fee for past damages for the two patents in contention – $2.8 million. It also offered a cut of future Android revenues, until the patents expire. For one patent which expires in 2012, it offered a 0.5% cut of Android related revenues. For another which expires in 2018, it offered a 0.015% cut of Android revenues.

It also stated that if Oracle were to accept these conditions, it wouldn’t fight Oracle on damages, once it proved infringement of those patents, presumably to speed up the trial process.

However, Oracle, understandably, has rejected the offer. Its cost of litigation alone would be a multiple of the settlement Google is offering. It’s almost insulting for it to accept a few million considering its original demand of more than $6 billion.

Oracle’s Final Damage Claim Against Google May Be Less than $100 Million

Oracle, which was claiming billions of dollars in damages from Google in a patent infringement lawsuit concerning the use of Java in Android, may have to make do with a lot less.

Oracle jumped into the patent wars by claiming that Google infringed upon its patents by using parts of the Java programming language in Android. It initially demanded $6 billion in damages, a figure which was declared ridiculous by the presiding judge.

After that, it reduced its claims to $2 billion, but even that was apparently quite high. Google has been claiming that the damages would add up to around $37.5 million to $46.6 million, which is way lower than what Oracle thinks it deserves.

Even if Oracle manages to up the damages figure a bit, it will likely be under $100 million, which is chump change for Google.

Google and its partners have been attacked by a number of technology giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, for developing and using Android. At least in the Oracle case, it seems that Google may have scored a minor victory. We’ll know for sure only after the case goes to trial.

Check out the complete details at Groklaw.

Apple’s Request for Android Data from Motorola Denied

Remember that time when Motorola was ordered by a U.S. court judge to turn over data related to Google’s Android development and details of its acquisition to Apple? You should – it was only around two weeks ago.

Anyway, it seems that Motorola has scored a minor victory in that matter. It had opposed that order, and its objections were backed by the judge, who denied the request by Apple today.

“The motion is vague and overbroad and Motorola’s objections are persuasive. If Apple desires a further court order compelling production of data within the scope of the March 5 order, it will have to narrow its request to a manageable and particularized set of documents.” said the judge.

Motorola and Apple’s patent trials will be held in June, and you can expect quite a lot of fireworks there. They are the biggest companies involved in the patent wars and have been battling each others in multiple countries, trying to get an injunction on the sales of each others’ products.

Google bought Motorola in 2011 primarily for its patent portfolio, but as the patent wars have progressed, it has found itself fighting Motorola’s wars, instead of it being the other way around. Both Motorola and Apple have scored a few minor victories here and there, but the coming trials in June will be the decisive ones.

Rumor: Samsung to Make Blackberry 10 Devices

When Google acquired Motorola, most major Android device manufacturers like Samsung and HTC must naturally have felt threatened. Samsung, the largest Android device maker, knows better than to keep all its eggs in one basket. It has already hedged its investment in Android device development with bets on alternative platforms including Bada and Tizen.

However, according to the latest rumor sparked by a comment by an analyst, Samsung may be looking to invest around $1.5 billion in Research in Motion, the creator of Blackberry devices, and may also license the upcoming Blackberry 10 operating system for use with its own devices.

If this rumor were to be true, Samsung would have device offerings powered by every major platform except iOS. It already has bets on Android, Windows Phone and Bada.

RIM’s stock was up 5% on this rumor, which if true, could save RIM, which is on the verge of extinction as its devices fail to attract customers while iOS, Android, and now Windows phone gobble up its market share.

Maybe RIM should really look at becoming a services company, while spinning off the handset division. Its current strategy hardly seems to be working. Partnering with Samsung, or selling off its handset division to it could be the shot in the arm that it desperately needs.

CyanogenMod 9 Will Come With Root Access Disabled By Default

The world’s largest third part ROM, CyanogenMod, has posted an update about one of the most important change they are going to make in CM9, which is based on Ice Cream Sandwich. Starting with CyanogenMod 9, root access will not be enabled by default for apps and via ADB. However, there will be an option to enable root access for advanced users.

According to the blog post from the CM team, this move will make Android handsets and specially a user’s data much more safer. This will allow users to use apps like Google Wallet and Google Movies, which will otherwise not work if a user has root access on his handset. The CM team also states that shipping root enabled custom ROMs to more than 1,00,000+ Android devices was a gaping security hole. Basically, the main motive of the CM team behind this move is to make your Android handset much more secure than before. The team also thinks that the use of root access is pretty much limited on CyanogenMod ROMs.

This move from CM team also gives them the opportunity to partner with HTC, Samsung or any other Android handset maker, and ship phones with CM ROM pre-installed!