Tag Archives: Google

Google Makes Bold Future Claims

Google weathering the storm
Google weathering the storm
Source: Google

Alphabet Inc, parent company of Google, are taking the world health crisis in their stride. Google stocks have jumped around 7%, after Ruth Porat, Chief Financial Officer, updated the world on company priorities. She also made bold predictions about the company’s future, suggesting where the situation as a whole would be by the end of the year. But these predictions are being largely criticised, with some experts saying that attempting to declare future plans as solid, at this point, is akin to playing online pokies; a game of luck.

It need not be said that the majority of other companies have gone into survival mode, preparing to weather a still ongoing storm. Most are extremely hesitant about suggesting what would be on the cards for the second and third quarter, given the obvious number of variables involved. Google, on the other hand, came out swinging, and Wall Street has jumped at the chance to support them.

But is it all just a case of the blind leading the blind?

Google’s Reality

The truth of the matter is that, as it stands, Google isn’t exactly in a good place. The first quarter was a disastrous one, with ad sales plummeting by roughly 10%. But this was to be expected and is in line with virtually every other company in the world. Porat acknowledged this and confessed that the second quarter was to be as bad, if not worse. She did, however, assure that steps were being taken to minimise losses.

Netflix and Intel are reporting equally devastating first and second quarters, with numbers also firmly in the red. However, executives at these firms were not making any future predictions. Google on the other hand were not shy about suggesting that the company would be in a good place for the second half of the year.

Porat explained that by the second half, cost cutting measures would begin reflecting on the bottom line. She also pointed out that global expansion, which included purchasing offices around the world, and hiring staff, would be slowing. More to the point, it was hinted that ad revenue would also begin to normalise, pulling things back together. Other companies were not so brazen in their predictions.

Wall Street
Source: Wikimedia

Wall Street Responds

Predictably, much criticism was heard in regard to the announcement. Wall Street however was not shy about rewarding the bold outlook. As the report concluded, stocks jumped an initial 3%. But as Porat elaborated on company cost cutting measures and verified that plans to buyback stocks would be maintained, another 7% jump occurred.

Though, this wasn’t even all the good news that Google had. It was also declared that various sub-businesses were doing well, beyond what the company is most known for. Namely; cloud services. With most stuck at home, and having to work remotely, demand for Cloud Computing platforms has gone through the roof. To be more precise; cloud-based services jumped in the first quarter up 52%. That is a stunning $2.4 billion in revenue.

What Wall Street Wants

If Google is or isn’t being bold in its predictions, the fact of the matter is that the announcements by Alphabet Inc. are exactly what Wall Street wanted to hear. Even with the cost cutting measures taken into consideration, in a time of such uncertainty, confident claims about what the future holds are an oasis in an otherwise chaotic and confusing time.

Many are also likely well aware that Google expertly navigated a previous difficult time; the recession that took place in 2008. At that time the Cloud Computing services had even been in their infancy, and not offering the support pillar that now exists. So, that Google is capable of weathering the current crisis doesn’t seem impossible. In fact, general consensus seems to be that if any tech giant is able to come out of this mostly unscathed, it is probably one as large and flexible as Google. Though for the time being, there are still many that consider the tech mega-corporation a touch overconfident, which is often a recipe for disaster in times of crisis. Only time will tell if Google is the proverbial giant bought down by a pebble.

Google Defends Gmail Access

Gmail Access
Source: Android Authority

Recent reports sent shockwaves through Gmail users around the world by telling them their privacy was compromised – and Google was responsible. The tech giant has since tried to quell fears by defending giving app developers access to users’ emails.

According to the company, the practice is OK because it is common. However, it went on to say that, if users want to keep everything private, there are tools that can be used. Whether legally right or not, the recent push of the EU to tighten controls to prevent data theft calls such practices into question.

The reality is that the Gmail accounts of many users see a great deal of personal, sensitive information coming and going. This is not unlike a bank, online casino, or other business that deals with such data – and such businesses have a responsibility to protect customers to the best of their ability. Thankfully, many such companies and institutions take security seriously – even if Google does not.

What the Reports Said

Respected publication, the Wall Street Journal, admitted it found no evidence of foul play on the part of the third-party app developers or other companies involved. However, viewed in the light of the Facebook data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, users may still have cause for concern.

The social media platform had passed on user data to developers; something that resulted in the private details of millions being sold to firms dedicated to gathering such information – and this was all done without any consent from site users. If anything, the reports cast a shadow on Google’s reputation as a trustworthy steward of sensitive information.

What Google Said

In a blog post, Google Cloud security, trust and privacy division director Suzanne Frey was adamant that users’ emails were not being read by the company. She explained that electronic messages were processed automatically, rather than by a team of people.

Frey added that the only exceptions to private mail being read is when it is at an account holder’s request and with their explicit permission, or when security issues are being investigated. This could include someone receiving abuse messages or trying to fix problematic software.

Why It’s ‘OK’

According to the director, Gmail account holders need not be the least bit concerned that computer programmes are processing their private emails. The reason is that all the information gathered is used by developers in their quest to create non-Google apps to help users get the most out of their free email accounts.

However, before developers are given access to any such data, they are vetted manually and automatically. If there is no valid home page, privacy policy, or in-house or in-app testing, they can forget about getting any information.

Besides, said Frey, users can always control how much access third-party app developers have to their data. She suggested account holders always check any permissions screens when downloading a new app, as well as using Google’s Security Checkup function. By doing so, they can decide whether downloading it puts them at risk or not, and they can find out if devices other than their own have logged into their Gmail accounts.

Frey also reminded users that, last year, the company said user’s emails would no longer be scanned as details that could be used for advertising. However, the only reason this was done was to try make G Suite more appealing to businesses. This is not underhanded – it is just business.

As the director said in her blog post, Gmail is monetized – the company ultimately sells a service, which is why users still see adverts in their inboxes, even if they are no longer based on the contents of emails.