Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tech Update: Google enters another field, Verizon valiantly throws hat in

Both stories from the New York Times:

Google's Next Frontier: Renewable Energy:

[Google], based in Mountain View, Calif., announced Tuesday that it intended to develop and help stimulate the creation of renewable energy technologies that are cheaper than coal-generated power.

Google said it would spend hundreds of millions of dollars, part of that to hire engineers and energy experts to investigate alternative energies like solar, geothermal and wind power. The effort is aimed at reducing Google’s own mounting energy costs to run its vast data centers, while also fighting climate change and helping to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The initiative, which Google is calling "RE < C", using mathematical symbols to denote “renewable energy cheaper than coal,” will be based in Google’s research and development group.

For some Wall Street analysts, the most relevant question is not whether Google can save the world, but whether the company’s idealism may ultimately distract it from its core businesses of organizing the world’s information and selling online ads.

“My first reaction when I read about this was, ‘Is this a joke?’” said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. “I’ve written off Google’s competition as a threat to Google’s long-term market share gains. But I haven’t written off Google’s own ability to stretch too far and try to do too much. Ultimately, that is the biggest risk in the Google story.”

"Verizon Plans Wider Options for Cellphone Users":

In a major shift for the mobile phone industry, Verizon Wireless said yesterday that it planned to give customers far more choice in what phones they could use on its network and how they use them.

With the introduction of the iPhone from Apple, one of the first mainstream multimedia devices, and Google’s plan to make the software that runs cellphones, the industry is being pushed toward a more open approach.

“The trend we see here is an explosion of innovation,” Mr. McAdam said. “People want to take so much of what’s on the Internet and put it on the phone.”

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