Tech News: Google Expands Its Redmond Campus; BlackBerry's Market Share in India Slips

By Josh Wolonick  MAR 13, 2013 1:45 PM

Plus, Facebook and Netflix connect, new facts on Samsung's next Galaxy are released, and Obama warns the public about cyber attacks.

 


Google Is Expanding Its Campus Five Minutes Away From Microsoft's HQ

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) opened an engineering-focused office in Kirkland, WA, in 2004. Since then, teams working there have created Google+, the Chrome Web browser, Google Talk, Google Storage, and Google+ Hangouts. The office, on Lake Washington, is a mere 5-minute drive away from Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) headquarters and is set to expand.

Including another office in nearby Bothell, Google has 1,000 employees in the vicinity of Redmond. With the planned two-building, 180,000-square-foot construction, Google will double its staff in the area.


Netflix Finally Gets Facebook Integration

In a July 2011 quarterly earnings call, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) initially announced plans to integrate with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), allowing subscribers to engage with social media while watching shows and movies. However, because of a US law which prevented rental companies from making customer rental history public, Netflix's social endeavor would have to wait.

Now, after CEO Reed Hastings' lobbying to Congress and the successful passage of the Video Privacy Protection Amendment Act late last year, Netflix is beginning to add Facebook integration for its 27 million US subscribers. The new function will allow users to see what their friends are watching, to rate what they've watched, and to post movies or TV shows directly on the walls of their friends. With House of Cards released in February and with four more original programs to debut before the summer, the social integration does seem to come at an opportune time for Netflix.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Hastings expressed how he thinks social networking will be crucial to the further expansion of the company, saying, "Social is going to be everything...Our kids are way more social than us; their kids will be way more social than them. You tell your friends about what you watch and they'll watch much more of what we offer."

Samsung Galaxy S4: 5-Inch Screen and Some Eye-Tracking Capability

Samsung's (PINK:SSNLF) new phone will launch tomorrow and Bloomberg confirmed details about the device today. The Galaxy S4 will have a 5-inch screen, a quad-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) processor in the US (abroad it will use Samsung's own 8-core Octa chip), and a 13-megapixel rear camera (a jump from the the S III's 8 mp).

Some of the most exciting rumors around the new phone have concerned eye-tracking technology: a March 4 New York Times report stated that the much-hyped phone would implement automatic scrolling based on users' eye movements. And though later versions may have such sophisticated eye movement features, Bloomberg sources say that the model to be released tomorrow will have simpler used for eye tracking. For example, you can pause a video by looking away.

BlackBerry Struggling in India

With the advent of popular smartphones from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung, Research in Motion, doing business as BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), has seen its market share crumble in the US. Despite this, the company retains up to 60% of the market for smartphones in some emerging markets where Apple stores have not caught on and where the company's data compression technology is better suited to take advantage of less advanced wireless networks. India has been a part of that emerging market dominance, but the times are changing.

RIM's share of smartphone shipments in India went from 12.8% in 2010 to just 5.9% in 2012, according to IDC. For Samsung, shipments jumped from 4.9% in 2010 to 42.5% in 2012. With 900 million mobile subscribers, the Indian market is a crucial one for the companies.

Last month RIM debuted its BlackBerry Z10 model in India, set to compete with the iPhone and Galaxy as a high-end device. At $800, its in a tough spot, more expensive than lower priced phone but not as in-demand as the offerings from Apple or Samsung. On the cheaper end, phones from Indian company Micromax are eating further into RIM's market share.

President Obama Warns of Increasing Cyber Threats

In a television interview with ABC this morning, President Obama says that cyber threats aimed at the US, particularly from China, were "ramping up." He asserted that while some are sponsored by criminals, others are "absolutely" state sponsored, though he didn't go so far as to refer to such state-sponsored attacks as a sign of digital war, saying, "You always have to be careful with war analogies...there's a big difference between them engaging in cyber espionage or cyber attacks and, obviously, a hot war."

Obama will be meeting today with a group of asof yet unspecified CEOs to discuss how to improve Internet security for both the private and government sectors. A month ago, the president signed an executive order that implored authorities to improve security and the sharing of information on cyber threats. Such an order lacks any strength of law: Last year, a cyber security bill failed to pass in the Senate with opposition from business groups. 

Obviously the president still has legislation on his mind, saying of Congress, "There are ways that we can harden our critical infrastructure our financial sector...They need to get this done." Maybe today's meeting with tech CEOs will put wind back in the sales of such another attempt in Congress.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville

Disclosure: Minyanville has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
No positions in stocks mentioned.