Europe Attacks Google, Segway Moves to China, & More… [Tech News Digest]
Europe investigates Android, China buys Segway, Netflix exceeds expectations, GameStop craves classics, Amazon offers Orphan Black for free, and the best Craigslist ad of all time.
Google Faces Serious Questions
The European Commission (EC), the executive body of the European Union (EU), has formally lodged a complaint against Google over its business practices in Europe. The EC investigated Google for five years before reaching the conclusion that the company is engaged in anti-competitive behavior by abusing its dominant position in Web searches.
The main bone of contention is the way in which Google Shopping links are placed above other links when people search for products they’re interested in buying. The EC claims Google has “systematically” promoted its own ads, which may have “artificially boosted its presence in the comparison shopping market with the result that consumers may not necessarily see what’s most relevant for them.” Google has come out fighting, stating in a blog post that it “respectfully but strongly disagrees” with the accusations.
The EC has also launched a separate investigation into Android, which will examine whether a) Google incentivises manufacturers to install its apps, b) Google insists its services are bundled, and c) Google is hindering the development of competing forks of the mobile operating system. Google has preemptively defended Android, stating it’s looking forward to “discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead.” Months? Try years.
China Bags American Scooter Company
According to the Wall Street Journal [Paywall], Chinese company Ninebot has acquired Segway for an undisclosed sum of money, with Xiaomi and Sequoia Capital investing $80 million in the operation. Like Segway, Ninebot manufactures two-wheeled personal transportation vehicles, so it’s clearly sticking to what it already knows.
Ironically, Ninebot was one of several Chinese imitators Segway previously accused of infringing on its patents. Which may explain why Ninebot has decided now is the right time to buy the company. It’s not yet known how Chinese ownership will change the way Segway operates, if at all.
Segway started life in 2001 as one of a number of exciting, and much anticipated, possible future solutions to urban transport problems . But the epic plans for everybody to drive Segways in and around cities never came to fruition. Instead, the vehicle became known as a novelty.
The fact that the one-time owner of the business, Jimi Heselden, died by falling off a cliff while riding a Segway, really didn’t help its reputation. Which is a shame, because they’re actually a lot of fun if you can stay on them (see video embedded above).
Netflix Celebrates Streaming Success
Anyone else cancel Netflix right after finishing off an original series? I’ve done this about 4 times by now.
— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) April 15, 2015
Netflix has much to celebrate, with its financial results from the first quarter of 2015 suggesting everything is looking rosy. The number of subscribers is up by 4.9 million, which includes 2.6 million outside of the United States. Revenues stood at $1.57 billion, with earnings per share higher than expected at $0.77. The Netflix share price rose on the news.
The company’s CEO Reed Hastings used his quarterly letter [No Longer Available] to announce a couple of changes coming to the service. He said, “Over the next year we’ll evolve from using HTTP to using Secure HTTP (HTTPS) while browsing and viewing content on our service.” He also made a vague promise to overhaul the UI, suggesting these changes “will bring video playback forward into the browse experience.” And about time too.
GameStop Wants Your Classic Consoles
American video games retailer GameStop is (re)-entering the retro games market, with IGN reporting it will run a trial in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama. If successful, the program, which will include “games, systems and select accessories for most ‘retro’ platforms,” will be rolled out nationally later this year.
While you will be able to sell your retro gaming gear in your local GameStop, you won’t be able to walk in buy these retro consoles and games. Instead, they will all be sold online a couple of months after being bought, in a move likely to be all about maximizing profit. Because GameStop isn’t exactly known for being generous .
Amazon Streams Orphan Black for Free
Assuming you have 10 hours to spare on Friday (April 17), you can watch every episode of Season 1 of Orphan Black thanks to Amazon. The online retailer is streaming the series for free 12:01 am to 11:59 pm (PDT) in order to promote Season 3, which is starting on BBC America this weekend.
Orphan Black is a rather strange mix of science fiction, drama, and comedy, which has built a cult following on both sides of the pond. It’s certainly worth watching for free, but you should probably read our short guide to binge-watching in order to prepare beforehand.
The Best Craigslist Ad of All Time
And finally, Django Greenblatt-Seay has produced what may just be the best Craigslist ad of all time. And it’s for nothing sexier than a used 2002 Ford Taurus. The ad, however, is pure sex on a stick. If such a thing exists.
Greenblatt-Seay is an Omaha-based videographer, which is how he managed to pull off such an accomplished ad. He also used a drone to film the car from above, and the audio from a 1987 commercial. And yet he still hasn’t received any serious offers. [H/T Fast Company]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Is the European Union justified in investigating Google for its business practices? Will the Segway ever be anything more than a novelty? Can Netflix continue to expand exponentially?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr