If Google moves forward with a reported $1.3B acquisition of Israeli navigation and traffic app Waze Inc., it would be the search giant’s fourth-biggest deal by dollar value, The Wall Street Journal says. Waze was founded in 2008 and uses crowdsourcing to provide routing and real-time traffic updates, including police presence, road accidents, speed cameras, and hazards. It has nearly 50M users in about 190 countries. Waze and Facebook had been in talks, but Israel’s Globes reports the social network balked at the price tag and at a stipulation that Waze’s Israeli employees continue working in Israel. (Google has an office in Israel.) Apple had been thought in the running for Waze, but CEO Tim Cook said in May that the company had not made a bid.
The search giant just released a whitepaper that makes a case for studios to buy ads on Google, noting that it has become a central resource for moviegoers when they decide what to see generating data that …
David Bloom is a contributor to Deadline
Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said it was a concern for improving the image of computer programming that led the web giant to participate in filming Fox’s The Internship, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as unemployed salesmen who talk their way into coveted internships at the company. “I’m not sure we had a choice” about participating, Page said at Google’s I/O developer conference today. “Computer science has a marketing problem. We’re the nerdy curmudgeons. (But) the guy who plays the head of search [in the movie] is by far the coolest guy in the movie, and we’re really excited about that.” The comments came as Page talked of the need for better education and more computer programmers if the country is to remain competitive (the company also announced an initiative to make it easy for schools to buy and install educational apps on Google-powered tablets and computers). The Internship, directed by Shawn Levy, is set to debut June 7.
These are among investors’ top concerns following Facebook’s unveiling yesterday of its Facebook Home smartphone super-app, which will put its services front and center on Google‘s Android operating system. It’s an important initiative for Facebook. Many on Wall Street fear that the social network company is caught in a dilemma: It needs to sell ads, but will turn off lots of smartphone and tablet users if it clutters their small screens with sales pitches. That’s why Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia says that early versions of Facebook Home will be ad-free, but “over time the ‘Home’-based home screen will start to display very relevant, targeted, slightly larger, and visually appealing ads –all positive for ad rates.” If that happens then “Facebook Home will be a lot less appealing to consumers,” BTIG’s Rich Greenfield says. Even without the ads, he wonders whether many users want their news feeds prominently displayed on their home screens noting that “always on pictures from what you/your friends/your family did last night could be a wee bit embarrassing when you turn on your phone next to someone.” He and others also want to see whether Google will see Facebook Home as a threat.
In a first of its kind move, Europe’s antitrust regulators on Wednesday levied a fine against Microsoft for breaking a settlement agreement. The $732M sanction against the tech giant came after the competition authority was tipped off that Microsoft had failed to comply with an earlier promise to provide buyers of new computers in Europe the option to opt out of its built-in Internet Explorer browser. Among the companies that first complained to the EU about Microsoft’s non-complicance was arch-rival Google, The Financial Times reported. The EU’s hard line against Microsoft is seen as a warning shot that it is serious about enforcing other antitrust settlements. And, since Google is involved in its own negotiations with European regulators over their concerns about how it runs its search and advertising business, the precedent-setting Microsoft settlement could come back to haunt it.
“It’s important for the Commission to show it’s serious in this case because this will set a precedent, and because the commission increasingly uses settlements to help reach solutions more quickly, especially in the fast-moving technology sector,” Nicolas Petit, a professor of competition law and economics at the University of Liège, told The New York Times. According to the FT, Joaquín Almunia, the European Union competition commissioner, made an indirect reference to the talks with Google when he said he’d asked his staff “to be extremely careful about how we design the monitoring and compliance” provisions of antitrust pacts.
The deals close the FTC’s nearly 20-month investigations and fall into two categories. In the first case, Google says it will no longer try to block other providers of wireless devices including smartphones from using patents that the search giant acquired last year when it paid $12.5B for Motorola Mobility. “These essential patents and others like them are the cornerstone of the system of interoperability standards that ensure that wireless internet devices and mobile phones can talk to one another,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says. “Over half of American consumers own and use one of these devices — including iPhones, Android phones and Xboxes.” Google agreed to drop injunctions, and license its patents to any company on what the FTC calls “fair and reasonable terms.” In a separate case, Google agreed to stop taking and misidentifying content from rival content companies. For example Leibowitz says that Google took user-generated restaurant reviews on Yelp “and led consumers to believe that these reviews were its own.” When the content owners complained, he adds, “Google allegedly threatened to remove them entirely from Google’s search results.” As part of its deal with the FTC, Google also agreed to remove restrictions that made it hard for advertisers that use its AdWords service from coordinating campaigns on other platforms.
Fuse was lit with a collection of interviews and performances from the 12-12-12 concert to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Madison Square Garden’s channel gained 2.9M views for a total of 5.2M, and jumped seven spots to No. 4 in our tally of Google-funded YouTube services for the week that ended December 19. The big mover on the rank chart was Hungry, whose holiday recipe videos enabled it to jump 33 spots to No. 57, even though it only gained 197,775 views for a total of 257,385. The channels on our list saw a 4.1% increase in views over the previous week, with the top 10 accounting for 51.8% of the total. Making room for Fuse in the top 10, Jay Z’s Life and Times dropped seven spots to No. 15.
So much for the speculation that Google might buy or pay off TiVo to resolve its DVR patent infringement case against Motorola Mobility’s home division — and facilitate a sale of the powerful set-top box operation. The search …
A lot of investors seem to think the DVR patent infringement suit with Google‘s Motorola Mobility could result in either a big settlement — or perhaps a sale. TiVo‘s stock is flirting with a 52-week high: it’s up about 1.7% this morning, and more than 19% since the middle of last week when it reported generally encouraging Q3 earnings. The reason: Company watchers believe that Google wants the TiVo suit out of the way so it can sell Motorola Mobility’s pay TV set-top box business. Bids for the operation are due today, although the deadline might be extended, The Wall Street Journal reports. Outsiders say the unit should sell for about $2B. Meanwhile, TiVo’s hand in the case appeared to have been strengthened yesterday by what Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says was “a positive claim construction ruling” involving one of the company’s key patents. TiVo has a perfect record so far in resolving these cases, including against companies that use Motorola Mobility’s DVRs. It believes that it could collect $1B in damages in its suit — equal to all of the settlements from its patent infringement case settlements with DVR providers including Dish Network, Verizon, and AT&T. The case is scheduled to go to trial in May.
Jailed Innocence Of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef still wants the world to be able to watch the controversial trailer of the anti-Islam film on YouTube. “Mr. Youssef said he believes in the message contained in the film and he does not want the trailer to be removed from YouTube,” said a filing (read it here) Wednesday by Google’s lawyers. The 14-minute trailer was the cause of violent protests around the Muslim world. Earlier this week, an Egyptian court sentenced Youssef and six others associated with the film to death in absentia. Timothy Alger, the attorney for YouTube owners Google, visited Youssef at LA’s Metropolitan Detention Center on Tuesday to get information from him in relation to actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s legal attempts to have the trailer removed from the Internet. “Mr. Youssef said that while other people assisted with the direction and production of the film, it was his creation, and he retains control over the film. He told me that his son uploaded both the English language and Arabic versions of the trailer for the film, now entitled Innocence Of Muslims, to YouTube at his request,” says Alger in the filing. Youssef, who is in jail for a year on parole violations related to a 2010 bank fraud case, has gone by various aliases including “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula“ and “Sam Bessi.”
Listen to Episode 10 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. This week, Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss how Quarter 3 earnings season turned out; whether DirecTV and Dish Network should merge; Cinemark’s smartphone app Cinemode to encourage people not to use their smartphone during movies; and growing uncertainty over Google plans to renew funding deals with more than 100 original-content channels on YouTube.
Google and Dish Network have explored partnering on a new wireless service to compete with major providers such as AT&T and Verizon, the Wall Street Journal reports. Talks are preliminary and may go nowhere according to sources cited by the Journal. Dish has also held exploratory talks with other potential partners who were not identified. Dish has acquired wireless spectrum over the past few years and has said it wants a partner to build a network to provide mobile phone and Internet services. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said today some of the potential partners include companies that don’t currently have a wireless business but would like to enter the space. Ergen said it would be easier for Dish to go with a company that already has towers and network infrastructure for transmitting data.
Google has already taken steps to expand into Internet delivery to personal computers and mobile devices. It has begun installing fiber-optic cable to homes in Kansas City, Kan, for an ultra-high-speed Internet and video delivery service that will compete with Time Warner Cable and Dish. Google believes that faster Internet speeds at home and on mobile devices will boost its search, Gmail and YouTube business and revenue. Although Google doesn’t currently have wireless infrastructure or own spectrum, the company has about $45 billion in cash which could be used to help build a new network.
Listen to Episode 6 of our weekly podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. This week, Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss whether the big entertainment companies, with their reliance on ever-increasing cable-TV fees, are driving off a fiscal cliff; what happened to Google in its awful quarterly earnings report; what to expect from the rest of earnings season; and whether a possible settlement of the $2.5 billion VOOM lawsuit will finally bring AMC Networks TV shows back to the Dish Network.
“I’m sorry for the scramble earlier today,” Google CEO Larry Page told analysts on a conference call. And that was that regarding the uproar today after the company’s earnings were prematurely released — resulting in …