Google’s new operating system

9 07 2009
Google Chrome Source:Google.com

Google Chrome Source:Google.com

Google announced on its blog that it is going to launch its own operating system next year based around its web browser, the Google Chrome. The Google Chrome OS will initially be targeted at the netbook market. It will be open source and based on the Linux kernel. Since it’s a Google product, it’s going to be free as well. The blog claims that the new OS will be light weight and more focused on getting the user onto the internet within seconds of booting up rather than waiting minutes for the computer to load.

This step is perhaps the next best logical step for Google since the online world is its home ground. Right now, it depends on other providers providing the user with a platform-the OS and the browser-to get onto the internet and access its services. It solved part of the problem last year by launching its own web browser with the hope that it would come together with all its online applications to provide an integrated experience to the user.

So, an operating system that is oriented for the internet would be ideal for a netbook since such devices with low processing power are likely to be used for things like accessing the internet. However, totally depending on the internet to provide all the functionality assumes that the netbook would be constantly connected to the internet. The most popular method of accessing the internet through a netbook is by using a dongle that connects to the internet via the mobile 3G network. Although such dongles can be obtained cheaply through deals, which include the dongle and the netbook, such deals have incredibly small download allowances. Since there would be a lot of exchange of data with the internet, the download limit would be quickly reached. So, Google should not only work with manufacturers to get its OS onto their devices, but also with the telecommunications companies and explore new ways of providing cheap internet access with huge download caps where the cost is subsidised by advertising-Google’s main business.

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The news media are referring to Google’s announcement as “Google taking on Microsoft”. I think that’s a bit premature to think that Google’s new OS,which depends on cloud computing, will offer all the functionality and applications that Microsoft’s operating system, which largely depends on software hosted locally, can provide the user. Especially since all we have from Google is an announcement, and not an actual product that can be tested, compared and bench marked.

That is not to say that Microsoft shouldn’t be worried about Google’s OS. That’s because currently, users that want Windows on their netbooks are offered Win XP and not Vista. The other alternative is a Linux based OS. Most users prefer XP although its expensive and old because they are familiar with the user interface and have apprehensions about switching to an unfamiliar system. That is why Linux distributions, most which are free and some of which already offer a light weight OS some as small as 50Mb, do not have many users since they are seen as being complicated and “techie”. But with a popular name like Google attached to it, it wouldn’t take long for these apprehensions to go away and for users to start switching to Chrome OS.

It would be interesting to see how Google goes on to monetize its operating system. Microsoft of course gets its revenue by charging a huge price to those who wish to use its operating system and so does Apple to those who wish to use its OSX, although its not so pricey. Linux distributions depend on a community of developers and some organisations get their revenue by providing support to businesses that use Linux operating systems and also by providing customised solutions. Google will obviously fall back on its core competency-its advertising business. That’s how it currently generates most of its revenue, by advertising to those that use its products.

Like in most cases, at the end of the day, it all depends on how Google execute their plan. If they become complacent and start thinking that anything that has the Google brand attached to it will become popular, their OS may not turn out to be a Windows killer. It will be interesting to see what the end product looks like when the beta version is released later this year.

And if any of its previous products are to go by, expect the Google Chrome OS to be in beta till the year 2020.

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Retailers embrace VAT cut

2 12 2008

The cut in the VAT announced last week by the Chancellor initially didn’t receive the reception that he might have been perhaps hoping for. News reports, newspapers and websites were filled with comments against the idea of the VAT cut, some being funny, and some downright ironic. Most were along the lines of “10p saving! Whoopee!”

However, over the weekend, it looks like many retailers are whole-heartedly embracing the VAT cut. Not because they like to go through the trouble of having to change the prices and labels and the IT systems. But because it gives them another reason to slash their prices, much more than the 2.5% VAT cut. But, why do they need a something like a VAT cut to give them a reason to slash prices? Surely, they can do it without that.

Yes they can. And many, like M&S and Debenhams, did a fortnight ago when they had a one-day only “spectacular” sale. Having yet another “spectacular” sale nearly three weeks before Christmas would give the impression that they have a lot of left over stock which they are desperate to sell. Although many shoppers would flock the stores to bag the bargains, which many have been doing due to the ongoing sales, many would stand back and wait for the prices to drop even further – a clear sign of deflation.

Hence, the cut in VAT, although not significant on its own, has provided the retailers with a timely reason to slash their prices further, using the VAT cut as a “mask” for doing so. Some companies, however, like BT and Virgin Media have decided to pass only the 2.5% cut to their customers.

But, how do single price retailers like Poundland, 99p Stores, or numerous other independent single price retailers pass on the VAT cut to their customers? After the VAT cut, an item costing £1 would then cost:
117.5% = 100p (The VAT is already added to the final selling price)
1% = 0.85p
115% = 97.87p (new price)
Poundland wouldn’t be able to rename itself as 97pLand for a period of 13 months, and the slogan “Everything’s £1” would then be deemed misleading. The only other option is for such businesses to increase their profit margins, which is not a bad thing, but they cannot take the advantage of being able to advertise the fact that they are passing on the VAT cut to their customers. Or, they could sell products that they wouldn’t have been able to in the past, as it would’ve been priced above £1, but can now since the cut in VAT allows the price to be £1.





Children help their parents spend their money

14 11 2008
David Beckham in a Motorola advertisement

David Beckham in a Motorola advertisement

According to recent news, parents are unwittingly spending £191 million a year to fund their children’s shopping habits. Or rather, the children are doing it for them on their behalf to save their parents the trouble of doing so. According to a survey consisting of 500 parents and 500 children, around 20%, or 1 in every 5, children have admitted to using their parents’ credit card for their online purchases.

The items in the shopping basket include the latest electronics, games, etc. Put simply, items that are on every child’s wish list. The age of the children ranges from 8 to 16 years and the value of the average purchase is said to be around £25. Of the parents surveyed, only 2% felt that their children would purchase goods online without their permission. 20% of the children also knew their parents’ username and password for their shopping websites. This made it easy for them to access their accounts and place orders.

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The recent strain being put on personal finances due to the rise in prices and unemployment would have undoubtedly led to parents cutting back their spending on buying the latest gadgets and gizmos and branded fashion accessories for their children. This means that the children feel “left out” when all their peers have the latest mobile phone or mp3 player and they are stuck with the “old” one.

Certain companies prey on this insecurity that the children harbour by pressurising them to purchase, or rather pester their parents to purchase the products that are endorsed by their “heroes” whom they “look up to”. The advertising method is such that it sends out the message to youngsters that a brand name is much more important than they product itself. It is endorsed by a well-known celebrity and therefore it’s cool and fashionable to own it and most certainly well worth the expensive price tag.

Often, the prices of these products are 2-3 times the price of their unbranded, store own-brand or less known branded counterparts. The obvious reason for this is that it allows the companies to “skim” the market, or in other words, pricing their products higher than the competitors since they know that the consumers will still want to buy them.

In August this year, The Association of Teachers and Lecturers expressed concern when their research showed that children who didn’t have the latest gadgets or wear garments that didn’t sport a fashionable logo were often bullied and mocked by their peers.

The report also highlighted how “brand aware” the children are and how in the race to be up-to-date, they end up having low self esteem and self confidence because their “net worth” or “net value” amongst their peers is judged by the brands they own.

In essence, what these companies are doing is “adding value” to a product by merely associating it with their brand. So, what you end up paying for is the brand. Of course, many might argue that many branded products do offer good value for money because they are of a better build quality. And what you get in return for the premium charged is peace of mind that the product will last. No doubt, this is true. But then, this isn’t true in all cases.

Interestingly, 30% of the parents’ admitted to saving their banking details online.
If the children can easily access them, just imagine how easy it might be for a fraudster to access the details. Then the orders might not be for £25, but more like £2500.

http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5i_9ZhcHk7F5v3WAReNAjjeFmrMxg
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7549770.stm
http://www.business-easy.blogspot.com





Virgin Media and Sky bury the hatchet.

4 11 2008

A deal which will see the return of Sky’s basic channels-Sky One, Sky News and Sky Sports News- on Virgin Media television packages has been agreed between the broadcasters Virgin Media and BSkyB.

According to The Guardian, the basic channels will include Sky1, Sky2, Sky3, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Arts and Sky Real Lives. The broadcast on Virgin Media will start on the 13th of November. This deal is contracted to run until June 2011.

Virgin Media was formed by the merger of NTL and Virgin Mobile. As part of the deal, Virgin Media also acquired NTL’s channels-Living, Bravo, Trouble and Challenge. Virgin Media recently also launched its own channel-Virgin 1. Under a second deal, these channels will continue to be broadcasted on Sky.


A row broke out between BSkyB and Virgin Media last year regarding the price Virgin Media had to pay BSkyB in order to broadcast its basic channels. Talks between the two broadcasters broke down and in the end the broadcast of BSkyB’s basic channels on Virgin Media were ceased. Popular shows on Sky One included Lost, 24 and The Simpsons. Sky had hoped that die-hard fans of the American shows would switch to Sky in order to watch them, and at that time, many did. But not enough to make a sizeable impact. Sky lost about 3.5 million audiences (Virgin Media customers) because of the fallout. This means that advertising campaigns carried out on Sky’s channels would have had a lesser impact since the audience would be effectively 3.5 million less and hence the campaign would have failed to reach the wider audience that the advertisers would have hoped it would have. Hence, revenue through advertising would have decreased since advertisers wouldn’t be willing to pay the same amount if it’s reaching less people.