Displaying items by tag: Alphabet

Alphabet’s revenues up 24 percent year-on-year

Written on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 12:33

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, announced its financial results for Q3 on Oct. 26, for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The company’s revenues were up 24 percent year-on-year, reflecting strength across Google and other bets. “Our momentum is a result of investments over many years in fantastic people, products and partnerships,” said Ruth Porat, FCO of Alphabet.

The company had a “terrific quarter” said Porat in a conference call with media. Revenues of $27.8 billion were up 24 percent year-on-year, and also up 24 percent in constant currency. Advertizing revenues benefited from strong performance in sites, which was powered by strong results in mobile search.

The company saw growth in network revenues which was led by its programmatic business. Alphabet also benefited from growth in revenues from cloud, play and hardware.

Alphabet’s performance was strong in all regions, Porat said. US revenues were $12.9 billion, up 21 percent year-on-year. Europe, Middle East and Africa revenues were $9.1 billion, up 23 percent year-on-year. Asia Pacific revenues were $4.2 billion, up 29 percent versus 2016. Other Americas revenues were $1.5 billion, up 33 percent year-on-year.

The company’s operating expenses were $8.8 billion, up 11 percent year-on-year, reflecting the change in the timing of its annual equity refresh cycle from the third quarter to the first quarter of each year. Operating income was $7.8 billion, up 35 percent versus 2016, and the operating margin was 28 percent. Other income and expense was $197 million.

Google contributed revenues of $27.5 billion, up 23 percent year-on-year. In terms of the revenue detail, Porat said, Google site revenues were $19.7 billion in Q3, up 23 percent year-on-year, led by mobile search, and complemented by desktop search and strong performance from YouTube.

Meanwhile, Alphabet’s Network revenues were $4.3 billion, up 16 percent year-on-year, reflecting the ongoing momentum of programmatic AdMob, a Google-owned advertizing company. Other revenues for Google were $3.4 billion, up 40 percent year-on-year, fueled by cloud, play and hardware.

Total traffic acquisitions were $5.5 billion or 23 percent of total advertizing revenues and up 32 percent year-on-year. Other Bets revenues – generated by Nest, Fiber and Verily – were $302 million. Operating loss including the impact of SBC was $812 million for Q3.

“Nest continues to drive ongoing product expansion with a number of notable launches including the Nest Thermostat E, which is offered at a lower price point than the Nest Learning Thermostat,” said Porat. “Nest also announced a home security solution that includes the Nest Secure alarm system, Nest Hello video doorbell, the Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera and corresponding software and services.”

Porat added, “Waymo continues to expand its geographic presence and announced this morning that it will commence winter testing in Michigan to build on our progress to-date addressing the challenge of autonomous driving in cold weather, particularly with snow, sleet and ice. Michigan is the sixth state where Waymo is testing its self-driving vehicles. Over the last eight years, Waymo's cars have self-driven in more than 20 cities.”

Porat also mentioned Project Loon, a research and development project being developed by Alphabet subsidiary X with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. Alphabet has been collaborating with companies such as SES and AT&T to deliver emergency Internet service to the hardest hit parts of Puerto Rico.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he has been “really proud of the progress this quarter, launching popular new products and continuing to grow our business in new areas. It's been particularly exciting to see our early bet on artificial intelligence pay off and go from a research project to something that can solve new problems for a billion people a day.”

Published in Finance

Project Loon and SES restoring connectivity in Puerto Rico

Written on Monday, 30 October 2017 11:38

Project Loon, a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas, developed by Alphabet subsidiary 'X' (formerly Google X), has been working with satellite company SES to restore 4G/LTE connectivity to disaster-stricken Puerto Rico.

The connectivity is powered by Project Loon's targeted cell coverage and SES Networks' O3b FastConnect, a rapidly deployable satellite terminal delivering fibre-like performance. Together with local technology partners, SES and X are providing reliable high-performance connectivity to Puerto Ricans whose lives have been devastated by the hurricane Maria and who have limited means of communication.

"Our thoughts are with those whose lives have been impacted by this devastating hurricane," said Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. "Access to connectivity is crucial in getting those affected the information and help they need after a natural disaster. We are really pleased to be working with X and their other partners to deploy high-performance connectivity to Puerto Rico and to play a part in the island's restoration efforts."

Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. By partnering with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum, Project Loon enables people to connect to the balloon network directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. The signal then passes across the balloon network and back down to the global internet on Earth.

"This is the first time we have used our new machine learning-powered algorithms to keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico, so we're still learning how best to do this," said head of Project Loon Alastair Westgarth. "As we get more familiar with the constantly shifting winds in this region, we hope to keep the balloons over areas where connectivity is needed for as long as possible."

Project Loon was launched in Puerto Rico by Alphabet's X in collaboration with the government of Puerto Rico, the US Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency and US telecommunications company AT&T.

Published in Satellite Industry

HTC employees to join Google in $1.1bn cooperation deal

Written on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 08:35

Alphabet-owned Google announced a definitive agreement with HTC on Sept. 21 under which HTC employees – many of whom are already working with Google to develop Pixel smartphones – will join Google. HTC will receive US$1.1 billion in cash from Google as part of the transaction. Separately, Google will receive a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to close by early 2018. It represents a significant investment by Google in Taiwan as a key innovation technology hub.

The agreement is a “testaments to the decade-long strategic relationship between HTC and Google around the development of premium smartphones,” the two parties said in a press statement.

HTC said the agreement will support its continued branded smartphone strategy, enabling a more streamlined product portfolio, more operational efficiency and financial flexibility. The Taiwan-based company also insists it will “continue to have the best-in-class engineering talent” to work on its next flagship phone, following the launch of the HTC U11 this year.

“This agreement is a brilliant next step in our longstanding partnership, enabling Google to supercharge their hardware business while ensuring continued innovation within our HTC smartphone and VIVE virtual reality businesses,” said Chairwoman and CEO of HTC, Cher Wang. “We believe HTC is well positioned to maintain our rich legacy of innovation and realize the potential of a new generation of connected products and services.”

HTC said it will continue to build the virtual reality ecosystem to grow its VIVE business, while investing in other next-generation technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and artificial intelligence (AI).

For California-based Google, the agreement will further its commitment to smartphones and overall investment in its emerging hardware business, the company said. In addition to the HTC professionals joining its team, Google said it will continue to have access to HTC’s IP to support the Pixel smartphone family.

“HTC has been a longtime partner of Google and has created some of the most beautiful, premium devices on the market,” said Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google. “We’re excited and can’t wait to welcome members of the HTC team who will be joining Google to fuel further innovation and future product development in consumer hardware.”

Published in Finance

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google and YouTube, posted its financial results on July 24 for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. The tech giant reported a 21 percent jump in quarterly revenue, maintaining a strong growth rate despite a massive anti-trust fine from the European Union.

The company said it made $3.5 billion in net income on sales of $26 billion. Alphabet’s profit would have been even larger if not for the record $2.7 billion EU fine. Alphabet was accused of abusing its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.

Anti-trust concerns have not come from the US. If it weren’t for the EU fine, Alphabet said its earnings per share would have been $8.90 in Q2, compared with $7 a year earlier. But with the fine, the company reported earnings per share of $5.01, beating an average estimate of $4.49.

The company will fight to continue bundling its Android operating system with popular smartphone apps such as Google Maps, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a conference call – a practice the EU anti-trust officials are investigating.

“It’s a very open market, open ecosystem, and it works well for everyone, and I expect that to continue,” he said, adding that billions of people use Google products worldwide.

"With revenues of $26 billion, up 21 percent versus the second quarter of 2016 and 23 percent on a constant currency basis, we're delivering strong growth with great underlying momentum, while continuing to make focused investments in new revenue streams," said Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet.

There are concerns, the company noted, that its costs have been rising faster than sales. Expenses would remain high as more searches shift to mobile devices. The uncertainty of expected profit appeared to weigh down on Alphabet’s share price, said Reuters, which fell about 3 percent to $967 after the bell.

The company’s revenue costs, a measure of how much it needs to spend to keep its platforms running before added costs such as research, rose 28 percent, according to the results, which is higher than the growth in revenue itself. The rising costs, such as Google paying to drive traffic to its search engine, affected the company more than expected, analysts report.

“This could be problematic going forward,” Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Management, told Reuters.

Alphabet is focused on growing bigger, according to Porat, who was asked about margins during a conference call with analysts. She said, “As we’ve often said, we’re focused on revenue and operating income dollar growth and not on operating margins.”

She further noted that increasing costs are merely the result of more money being invested into high-growth products that she said would create value for Alphabet shareholders. The company currently holds $15.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents, according to the results, and a further $79 billion in marketable securities.

Alphabet competes head-to-head with social media giant Facebook for online advertizing revenue. According to eMarketer, Google is expected to have $73.75 billion in net digital ad revenue worldwide while Facebook is expected to make just $36.29 billion. Together, eMarketer reports, Google and Facebook rake in 49 percent of the market.

Other products under the Alphabet umbrella, such as the Pixel smartphone, the PlayStore and Google’s cloud business, saw revenue increase 42.3 percent to $3.09 billion. Google’s cloud business competes against heavyweights such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Some of Alphabet’s losses came from business units such as Waymo, its self-driving company, and thermostat-maker Nest, and the life sciences firm Verily.

Published in Finance

The European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service, according to a European Commission statement. The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That's a good thing. But Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.

Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors,” Vestager added. “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google's flagship product is the Google search engine, which provides search results to consumers, who pay for the service with their data. Almost 90% of Google's revenues stem from adverts, such as those it shows consumers in response to a search query, according to the European Commission statement.

In 2004 Google entered the separate market of comparison shopping in Europe, with a product that was initially called "Froogle", re-named "Google Product Search" in 2008 and since 2013 has been called "Google Shopping". It allows consumers to compare products and prices online and find deals from online retailers of all types, including online shops of manufacturers, platforms (such as Amazon and eBay), and other re-sellers.

When Google entered comparison shopping markets with Froogle, there were already a number of established players. The Commission’s statement points out that contemporary evidence from Google shows that the company was aware that Froogle's market performance was relatively poor (one internal document from 2006 stated "Froogle simply doesn't work").

Comparison shopping services rely to a large extent on traffic to be competitive. More traffic leads to more clicks and generates revenue. Furthermore, more traffic also attracts more retailers that want to list their products with a comparison shopping service. Given Google's dominance in general internet search, its search engine is an important source of traffic for comparison shopping services.

From 2008, Google began to implement in European markets a fundamental change in strategy to push its comparison shopping service. This strategy relied on Google's dominance in general internet search, instead of competition on the merits in comparison to shopping markets.

The company “has systematically given prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service,” the Commission claims. Furthermore, “Google has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results.” For instance, rival comparison shopping services appear in Google's search results on the basis of Google's generic search algorithms. Google has included a number of criteria in these algorithms, as a result of which rival comparison shopping services are demoted.

Evidence, according to the Commission, shows that even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google's search results, and others appear even further down. Google's own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google's generic search algorithms, including such demotions. As a result, Google's comparison shopping service is much more visible to consumers in Google's search results, whilst rival comparison shopping services are much less visible.

Google's illegal practices have had a “significant impact” on competition between Google's own comparison shopping service and rival services, the Commission claims. They allowed Google's comparison shopping service to make significant gains in traffic at the expense of its rivals and to the detriment of European consumers.

Given Google's dominance in general internet search, its search engine is an important source of traffic, says the Commission. As a result of Google's illegal practices, traffic to Google's comparison shopping service increased significantly, whilst rivals have “suffered very substantial losses of traffic on a lasting basis.”

Published in Finance

Corporate data is becoming what oil is to Saudi Arabia, says Clear Peak analyst Brad Cowdrey – outrageously profitable. There is so much valuable data available to corporations today, he says, and its potential uses are “proliferating so rapidly” that not using it would be “negligent”. But the dominance of tech giants that rule the data world has prompted calls for them to be broken up, the same way Standard Oil was in the early 20th century, over antitrust concerns.

Data in the digital era has spawned the dominance of renowned technology giants. Today, the world’s most valuable listed firms all deal in big data: Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. These tech titans have seen their profits surge in recent years, collectively racking up over $25 billion in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Alphabet is estimated to be worth a staggering US$498 billion compared to Apple's market cap of around US$495 billion.

Google’s 21st century data-driven mindset treats information “as a principal asset – like oil – that must be actively managed and leveraged,” says Cowdrey. But the value of firms like Google that profit from handling the data of billions of people has prompted calls for antitrust regulators to restrain those who control its flow – but some reports suggest that traditional watchdog methods are outdated.

The success of the dominant tech giants has undoubtedly benefited customers worldwide. For instance, Google’s search engine and Google Maps app has fundamentally simplified the lives of people around the world, the same way Amazon’s one-day delivery services have, and also Facebook’s revolutionary social media platform. Many of the services provided by these tech giants are free-of-charge, but customers end up paying in a less traditional way: handing over valuable data.

The cause for concern, a report by The Economist suggests, is that having so much knowledge about consumers gives internet giants “enormous power”. As of the first quarter of 2017, Facebook had 1.94 billion monthly active users feeding valuable information into the platform for the company to monetize into advertizing ventures. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users had surpassed 1 billion, making it the first social network ever to do so.

Regulators are entrusted to make sure that huge companies, like Facebook, don’t obtain too much power. But it has been suggested that the old way of approaching anti-competition concerns, such as in the era of oil dominance, is now “outdated”. New approaches are needed to tackle anti-competition in the modern tech industry.

Antitrust regulators came down hard on the oil industry in May 1911, when the US Supreme Court called for the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company, ruling it was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court’s decision forced Standard to break into 34 independent firms spread across the US. Many of these companies have since split, folded or merged; today, the primary descendents of Standard include ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Antitrust concerns soon affected the tech industry as the influence of American tech giants burgeoned. In April 2012, the US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and a group of book publishers alleging they colluded to fix e-book prices. The plan was put in place by Apple and the publishers because the companies feared Amazon, which was selling e-books below cost and was monopolizing the market.

Apple also faced a lawsuit filed in 2011 seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for monopoly abuse regarding its App Store. Apple was accused of creating a monopoly by making its App Store the only place to purchase iPhone applications. Lack of competition thus pushed App Store prices higher.

Meanwhile, Google has been fighting multiple claims by the European Commission which has accused the company of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market. Google also rejected allegations that it abused the market dominance of its Android mobile phone operating system.

“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner, at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, in July 2016.

The Economist report claims the traditional antitrust methods of the past are no long useful and need to adapt to the 21st century. For example, antitrust regulators watch out for how large companies have grown to determine when they should intervene. But in today’s digital era, antitrust regulators need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of major deals, rather than the size of the company itself.

Another key trigger for regulators to monitor today is the amount of money which firms are willing to fork out to acquire another company. If the amount is unusually high, it could indicate that the company is attempting to eliminate a “nascent threat”.

For instance, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of before it was acquired, should have raised flags when the instant messaging app was purchased for $19 billion. Facebook even attempted to acquire another rival, Snapchat, which rejected the offer.

Antitrust regulators need to become more “data-savvy” when analyzing the market today, the report says, such as using simulations to “hunt algorithms colluding over prices” or finding ways to boost promotion of competition.

Another solution could be to force online services to hand over data and give more control to those who supply it. In that respect, consumers would have more knowledge about exactly what information companies have about them and companies could be forced to reveal how much money they make from consumer data.

Governments could play a role by encouraging the emergence of new services in the industry by opening up more of their own data, the report suggests, or “managing crucial parts of the economy as public infrastructure” similar to India’s digital identity system, Aadhaar.

A further suggestion is for governments to “mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data” with the consent of users. This approach has been picked up in Europe by financial services requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.

However, not all data is intended to be made public, and therein lies the problem with the information sharing era. Governments face a difficult time ahead, attempting to regulate the data economy which, for now, is dominated by a few giants – similar to the oil industry in its infancy.

The Economist report suggests that governments should share more data to equal out the competition and allow more businesses to thrive in the area of data and technology, but too much data sharing could threaten the privacy citizens and national security. While there is no simple solution, the need for effective regulation of the data economy is dire.

Published in Reports

Nokia, Alphabet's Access Group and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. joined forces to demonstrate the first live demo of a private LTE network over CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) shared spectrum at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The companies built a virtual reality zone inside stock race cars operating at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, with 360° video streaming to provide an "in car" experience in real time.

The demonstration, which achieved speeds in excess of 180 mph, showed not only how the combination of a new CBRS band and innovative technologies can offer new audience experiences, but also how shared spectrum can be used by venues and enterprises to deploy their own private LTE network to offer new services.

Deployment of a private LTE network is becoming a reality due to the availability of the CBRS spectrum (without the auction costs) and advances in network technology that are providing the performance benefits of LTE with an easy deployment model.

The live demonstration successfully highlighted some of the key performance benefits of using LTE, including consistent high data rates to stream 360° video for immersive experiences, superior mobility at extreme race car speeds, exceptional outdoor coverage, and capacity that can be customized to meet the needs of the particular service.

In this case, the 360° video was streaming from within the high-speed vehicles. The demonstrations also showcased that, thanks to the availability of CBRS shared spectrum, an enterprise, campus, venue or other group can deploy their own private LTE network.

The shared spectrum used in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway demo is the new CBRS spectrum released in the U.S. by the Federal Communications Commission. This spectrum allows for broad innovation in wireless business models.

Nokia, Alphabet's Access Group and Qualcomm Technologies are founding members of the CBRS Alliance, which is promoting LTE-based solutions in the CBRS spectrum. The three companies are committed to driving technology forward to allow for ubiquitous deployment of LTE networks within the CBRS band.  

The collaboration of Nokia, Alphabet's Access Group and Qualcomm Technologies brought together industry-leading expertise and technology innovations to create the foundation for a cutting-edge demonstration - revolutionizing the audience experience and showing first-hand the performance benefits of a private LTE network.

Powered by its TD-LTE radio innovation and experience of LTE networks for high density venues and high speed race events, the Nokia CBRS private LTE high performance network used CBRS base stations to cover the complete track and spectator area.

CBRS spectrum for the base stations was provisioned by the Access SAS (Spectrum Access System), and the 360° virtual reality video was streamed in real time using YouTube Live Events. This was the first SAS demonstration in support of a live event.

The network was customized to provide: high uplink data rate on the race track and high downlink data rate in the spectator area; very low latency between car and network; and seamless mobility. Such a set up allows the continuous streaming of real time 4K 360° virtual reality video between the spectators and the cars - in this demonstration driving in excess of 180 mph. The in-car connectivity for the trial was enabled by a Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) LTE modem.

Published in Telecom Vendors

California-based Alphabet, parent company of Google, reported strong profit growth on Thursday, 26 January, for the final three months of 2016. The company saw its profits rise on growth in mobile search and its video-sharing service YouTube. Google remains as Alphabet’s majority operating unit and advertising is still the company’s main source of profit.

According to Alphabet its net income increased eight percent to $5.3 billion, which wasn’t as high as industry predictions on Wall Street, despite better-than-expected revenue. For earnings purposes, Alphabet categorizes operations such as self-driving cars and Nest smart thermostats into an “Other Bets” category, which almost doubled revenue to $262 million in the quarter, but still posted a loss of nearly $1.1 billion.

Alphabet’s revenue in the final quarter of last year reached $26 billion, up 22 percent from the same period the previous year. However, the company’s shares dropped more than two percent to $838 in after-market trade that followed the release of the earnings figures.

Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said in a release, “Our growth in the fourth quarter was exceptional,” crediting mobile search and YouTube which drove the high performance. “We’re seeing great momentum in Google’s newer investment areas and ongoing strong progress in Other Bets.”

Alphabet, under its new structure, is said to be expanding beyond its role as a search engine that provides advertising linked to queries. The company last year leveled up to its rivals Apple, Samsung and Amazon by pushing into hardware, launching premium-priced, in-house designed artificial intelligence products.

Google also revealed its new "home assistant" which aims to compete with Amazon's Alexa-powered devices as a hub for the smart home, and has been working to become the platform for some connected cars. During an earnings call, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said he is deeply involved with the company’s push into artificial intelligence, believing there is a lot of potential in digital assistance to make services such as mobile search more helpful to users.

“In the long run, I think we will evolve from a mobile first to an AI first world,” said Pichai. “We are at the forefront and pushing and pushing hard and getting there.” According to Porat, the bulk of the money taken in came from "Other Bets" came from Nest, Verily, and a Fiber unit building super-fast internet lines in select US cities.

It was recently announced that Singapore-based sovereign based fund Temasek will invest $800 million in Verily, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on healthcare. The infusion of cash, for which Temasek will get a minority stake, comes as Verily works to bring some of its creations to market. Verily was known as Google Life Sciences but rebranded after the internet giant became Alphabet in a corporate restructuring.

Verily specializes in applying technology to problems in health and biology. Among the ideas discussed has been building a sickness-sensing diagnostic device along the lines of the "tricorder" seen in "Star Trek" science fiction films and television shows.

 

 

Published in Finance

The communist island nation of Cuba is famous for its limited and slow internet connections. In a bid to enable faster access to its content for Cuban citizens, Google recently signed a deal with the country. Executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, signed the deal in Havana on December 12, alongside the head of Cuban state telecoms company Etecsa, Mayra Arevich.

The deal means that Cuba will have access to a network called Google Global Cache, which stores content from Google sits such as Gmail and YouTube on local servers, which accelerates users’ access, according to Google. The agreement will “enable users in Cuba to reduce access time for Google internet content, bringing better speed and quality,” said Etecsa.

According to AFP, journalists were not permitted to ask any questions about the deal at the press conference in Havana where the deal was announced. The nation is well-known for its secretiveness – but all the same, it’s no secret that Cuba has one of the lowest internet access rates in the world. Only one-third of Cubans went online in 2015, according to official statistics. In a nation where the average monthly wage is about $29, it costs a staggering $2 an hour to connect to a Wi-Fi spot at one of Cuba’s 900 state-run internet cafes.

Cuba has strict rules around the use of internet. For example, having internet at home is restricted to professional journalists or doctors. Since 2014, the government has allowed some Google content, but connections are notoriously slow. Internet services are delivered to Cuba via a fiber optic cable from Venezuela.

U.S. President Barack Obama was determined to change Cuba’s lack of connectivity during his presidency. Google’s new deal with Cuba comes at a time of uncertainty as the relationship between the former Cold War foes has become more heated. President-elect Donald Trump has criticized President Obama for not extracting more concessions from Cuba on democracy, human rights and the economy.

Published in Government

Google’s aspirations to extend the reach of its innovative drone delivery service has encountered a number of issues and plans to begin a wider launch of the product that have been put on hold. Google’s parent company Alphabet, a leading software company, has revealed its ambitious plan for a marketplace that could order anything from a coffee to toilet paper and have it within minutes.

The drone-delivery service was given the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin testing the autonomous aerial vehicles in the United States. However, it has now been revealed from a former employee of Alphabet that the company has suffered a number of issues with the technology itself.

In September, the company successfully delivered its first burrito from Chipotle, to a student in Virginia Tech. In addition to that, Alphabet entered into partnerships with a number of companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods Market and Domino’s Pizza to carry out a series of tests and trials as part of its Wing Marketplace strategy. However, it emerged that Starbucks exited the negotiations after disagreeing with Alphabet over access to customer data.

Last month, Domino’s Pizza made its first delivery by drone in New Zealand and it plans to expand the service to a bigger area in the forthcoming months. Domino’s boss, Don Meij says the aerial technique could catch on as it beats traffic and cuts waiting time.

“DRU Drone by Flirtey offers the promise of safer, faster deliveries to an expanded delivery area, meaning more customers can expect to receive a freshly-made order within our ultimate target of 10 minutes. They can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights, and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by travelling directly to customers’ homes. This is the future. Our customers are excited about the possibility of drone deliveries and we are thrilled to be working with local families as we test and expand this technology.”

An article which circulated in the Wall Street Journal reported that Alphabet’s ‘X’ division could experience more turbulence in the coming months following the admission made by a former employee of the firm. The anonymous source made the claim that it was Alphabet’s goal to complete 1,000 flights without incident, but it never made it past 300.

Some of the reasons cited as to what the problems were ranged from repeated power failures, multiple crashes, wandering off course, or attempting to land in trees. Alphabet’s X division is a moon-shot project, so technical issues are expected throughout the process. With the former employee summing it up by saying: “Alphabet is a software company, not an airplane company.”

Published in Gadget