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Here’s what you can earn at the 20 top tech companies

Tuesday 16 September 2014 @ 11:30 pm
Here’s what you can earn at the 20 top tech companies
Image Credit: David Crow/Flickr

While there’s debate over whether there’s a shortage of qualified tech workers, there’s one thing no one argues about: Tech companies pay their employees well.

We’ve heard of senior engineers getting a base salary of $160,000, with stock options and other benefits on top. Some interns are earning $7,000 a month, which amounts to $84,000 a year.

So we sifted through job-hunting site Glassdoor to find the best-paying jobs listed on that site, at the best tech companies, according to Glassdoor’s ranking of the best places to work.

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We listed the highest-paying job on Glassdoor, plus salaries for two common tech jobs: a senior technical role and a software engineer, at each company, to give you a sense of what those jobs pay as well.


No. 20: Salesforce.com, $319,000

Salesforce.com’s-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for an executive vice president at $319,347.

A senior technical staffer gets, on average, $130,233.

A staff software engineer gets, on average, $112,942.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 20)

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

What it does: Salesforce.com offers a cloud computing service that helps companies find and support customers.


No. 19: eBay, $320,679

eBay’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a vice president at $320,679.

A senior technical staffer gets paid, on average, $178,080.

A staff software engineer gets, on average, $120,424.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 19)

Headquarters: San Jose, California

What it does: eBay is an ecommerce site best known for letting consumers sell stuff through online auctions.


No. 18: Texas Instruments, $156,530

Texas Instruments’ top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for an applications engineering manager at $156,530.

A senior technical staff gets, on average, $125,778.

A software engineer gets, on average, $91,633.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 18)

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas

What it does: Texas Instruments is a semiconductor manufacturer.


No. 17: NetApp, $227,370

NetApp’s top-paying job on Glassdoor is for a director of marketing at $225,494.

A senior software engineer gets, on average, $144,756.

A staff software engineer gets, on average, $93,726.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 17)

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California

What it does: NetApp offers enterprise computer-storage products.


No 16: Citrix, $176,322

Citrix’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a senior director at $176,322.

A senior software engineer gets, on average, $108,179.

A software engineer gets, on average, $88,728.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 16)

Headquarters: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

What it does: Citrix makes enterprise software that allows PCs and devices to remotely access corporate apps and data.


No 15: CareerBuilder.com, $131,000

CareerBuilder.com’s-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a director at $131,000.

A senior software engineer gets, on average, $84,650.

A software engineer gets, on average, $73,850.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 15)

Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois

What it does: CareerBuilder.com is a website for job seekers and recruiters.


No. 14: Apple, $255,700

Apple’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a senior director at $255,700.

A software development manager gets, on average, $180,333.

A software engineer gets, on average, $110,867.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 14)

Headquarters: Cupertino, California

What it does: Apple makes the Macintosh PC, iPad tablet, iPhone smartphone, and other consumer tech devices and software.


No. 13: Intel, $231,084

Intel’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a software engineering director at $231,084.

A principal engineer gets, on average, $170,146.

A software engineer gets, on average, $97,403.

Employee rating: 3.8 out of 5 (Rank 13)

Headquarters: Santa Clara, California

What it does: Intel is a semiconductor manufacturer best known for processors that power PCs and servers.


No. 12: Rackspace, $136,229

Rackspace’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a software developer V at $136,229.

A manager of software development gets, on average, $125,528.

A software engineer III gets, on average, $82,000.

Employee rating: 3.9 out of 5 (Rank 12)

Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas

What it does: Rackspace offers cloud computing and web-hosting services to enterprises.


No. 11: National Instruments, $122,486

National Instruments’ top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a Principal Engineer at $122,486.

A senior group manager gets, on average, $112,500.

A software engineer gets, on average, $64,129.

Employee rating: 3.9 out of 5 (Rank 11)

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

What it does: National Instruments makes test equipment for building tech products.


No. 10: Red Hat, $192,333

Red Hat’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a senior director at $192,333.

A principal software engineer gets, on average, $124,277.

A software engineer gets, on average, $79,725.

Employee rating: 4 out of 5 (Rank 10)

Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina

What it does: Red Hat offers open-source software for enterprises, including a popular version of Linux.


No. 9: MathWorks, $137,313

MathWorks’ top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a principal software engineer at $137,313.

A senior design engineer gets, on average, $117,947.

A software engineer gets, on average, $81,060.

Employee rating: 4 out of 5 (Rank 9)

Headquarters: Natick, Massachusetts

What it does: MathWorks makes computational software for engineers and scientists.


No. 8: Intuit, $216,714

Intuit’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a director of product management at $216,714.

A software engineering director gets, on average, $195,636.

A staff software engineer gets, on average, $137,424.

Employee rating: 4.1 out of 5 (Rank 8)

Headquarters: Mountain View, California

What it does: Intuit makes financial and tax-preparation software for consumers and small businesses.


No. 7: Riverbed, $186,667

Riverbed’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a senior director at $186,667.

An engineering manager gets, on average, $145,309.

A software engineer gets, on average, $109,464.

Employee rating: 4.1 out of 5 (Rank 7)

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

What it does: Riverbed makes hardware and software that helps enterprise networks run faster.


No. 6: Qualcomm, $222,647

Qualcomm’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a senior director of hardware engineering at $222,647.

A principal systems engineer gets, on average, $183,153.

A software engineer gets, on average, $88,312.

Employee rating: 4.2 out of 5 (Rank 6)

Headquarters: San Diego, California

What it does: Qualcomm is a semiconductor manufacturer best known for its Snapdragon processors that power smartphones and other mobile devices.


No. 5: Google, $281,930

Google’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a marketing director at $281,930.

An engineering director gets, on average, $256,250.

A software engineer gets, on average, $118,968.

Employee rating: 4.3 out of 5 (Rank 5)

Headquarters: Mountain View, California

What it does: Google operates the world’s largest internet search engine and makes the Android operating system. It makes most of its money from advertising.


No 4: Guidewire, $157,918

Guidewire’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a development manager at $157,918.

A senior solutions architect gets, on average, $136,493.

A software engineer gets, on average, $108,918.

Employee rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Rank 4)

Headquarters: Foster City, California

What it does: Guidewire offers software for the property- and life-insurance industries.


No. 3: Facebook, $191,591

Facebook’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a software engineering manager at $191,591.

An IT Manager gets, on average, $163,197.

A software engineer gets, on average, $118,445.

Employee rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Rank 3)

Headquarters: Menlo Park, California

What it does: Facebook is a social network where people can share their thoughts and photos with friends. It makes most of its money through advertising.


No. 2: LinkedIn, $205,980

LinkedIn’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for an engineering manager at $205,980.

A senior business systems analyst/business analytics gets, on average, $171,745.

A software engineer gets, on average, $127,557.

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5 (Rank 2)

Headquarters: Mountain View, California

What it does: LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It sells premium subscriptions and job-recruiting services.


No. 1: Twitter, $179,416

Twitter’s top-paying job listed on Glassdoor is for a staff engineer at $179,416.

An engineering manager gets, on average, $166,520.

A software engineer gets, on average, $121,642.

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5 (Rank 1)

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

What it does: Twitter offers a social-media service where people can share their thoughts with the word in 140 characters or less. It generates revenue through advertising.

This story originally appeared on www.businessinsider.com.


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Feds nail Yelp for violating kids’ privacy rights

Tuesday 16 September 2014 @ 9:00 pm
Feds nail Yelp for violating kids’ privacy rights
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-31437106/stock-photo-many-dollars-of-money-and-a-judge-hammer.html

When it comes to violating children’s rights online, the Federal Trade Commission picked not a mobile gaming company to hit, as rumored, but Yelp.

And today, Yelp admitted to having a “bug” problem.

Virtual customer review stalwart Yelp, based in San Francisco, said it paid $450,000 to the FTC for collecting names and other identifiers of children without their consent, a clear violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

This is an interesting case. Earlier this year, the FTC announced with great fanfare that it would aggressively begin going after operators in the mobile space that were in violation of COPPA, which the government amended last year to give mobile gamers and app developers time to get their houses in order.

The FTC made no public announcement about the hit on Yelp; instead, Yelp announced the fine on its website in a little noticed blog post.

Yelp chalked up its violation to a “bug” that wreaked havoc in its mobile registration process.

Yelp’s blog post, in part, read:

“Yelp recently reached a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a bug in our mobile registration process that allowed certain users to register with any birth date when it was supposed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13 (birthdates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one).”

The good news is that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed Yelp’s registration process during this time period provided an underage birth date, and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults. Regardless, we don’t want any ambiguity when it comes to our users. When this problem was brought to our attention, we fixed it immediately and closed the affected users’ accounts.”

An FTC spokesperson in Washington DC could not be reached for comment.

The crux of the lawsuit, according to Yelp, was the FTC’s accusation that the company, launched in 2004, was collecting email addresses from kids, some of them aged 9 and under, without the consent of their parents from 2009 until 2013.

To be more specific, kids who signed up for Yelp accounts did not have to go through an adequate process in order to set up an account. The FTC’s move against Yelp mirrors, to a degree, the fines it levied against Apple, Google, and Amazon this year. Those three heavyweights were accused of billing minors for unauthorized purchases to their app stores.

Apple and Google settled for over $60 million combined, while Amazon is fighting the FTC.


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Yelp (www.yelp.com) is a website that connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros in the United States, Canada, the United Ki... read more »











Ex-Googlers emerge from the shadows with AdBrain, a new mobile intelligence paradigm

Tuesday 16 September 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Ex-Googlers emerge from the shadows with AdBrain, a new mobile intelligence paradigm

Mobile-intelligence startup AdBrain raised $7.5 million back in March.

Today it came out of beta and launched its Synapse multi-screen platform, which enables publishers, ad brokers, and app developers to make sense of the vast amounts of mobile data they accrue and make money off of it. Data is like oil; you just have to know what to do with it.

To be sure, the AdBrain team, headquartered in London with a growing presence in New York, is heavily staffed, at least on the executive side, with ex-Google ad veterans. AdBrain co-founder and chief Gareth Davies, for example, did stints at Google and Adclick. And Jesse Hurwitz, head of strategy, left Google, where he was the head of global strategy for mobile ad platforms.

“We’re a data-intelligence company. And what we’ve built is a brain,” the jovial and agreeable Davies told VentureBeat today. “We unlock data, and we help our clients better understand who their clients are using any mobile device.”

The mobile ad landscape is changing, rapidly, Davies said, with wearables and, now, connected cars. For Davies, this means the landscape is going through a metamorphosis with regards to the proliferation of mobile devices, all of which, in his eyes, point to yet more data — tablets and smartphones, for example.

Making sense of the vast troves of data — monetizing and optimizing it — is where AdBrain comes in.

“When it comes to fight or flight, like an animal, we’re enabling you to make the right decision,” Davies said of his software.

It would be easy to discount his assertions if AdBrain didn’t have a customer base, but it does, and it’s growing. M&C Saatchi Mobile, virtual ad outfit Fetch, and Annalect, for starters. But Davies refused to say if they’re the launch partners. And Davies discounted the whisperings on the mobile street that, less than a year after launching, AdBrain had nothing to show for it.

It does now.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” Davies said.


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Adbrain is at the forefront of the data-driven, multi-screen advertising revolution. Powered by the latest technologies in artificial intelligence and deep learning, the Adbrain platform turns data into actionable insights, allowing... read more »











Tim Cook Holds Firm On iMessage Security: It’s Encrypted, And We Don’t Have A Key

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 3:55 pm
Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 00.41.54 As Apple continues to come under some attack for how it handles iCloud security, the company’s CEO Tim Cook is holding firm on the company’s priorities when it comes to data protection. In part 2 of an interview with Charlie Rose, airing on PBS tonight, Cook is adamant that Apple is not in the business of collecting data, but rather selling hardware, and, as such, it puts data… Read More



Google recognizes that its plan for gaming domination hinges on how people pay

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 11:44 am
Google recognizes that its plan for gaming domination hinges on how people pay

Above: Google's gaming boss Bob Meese.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — To reach every corner of the world with the games on its Android platform, Google is thinking about how people pay.

Google’s head of game business development, Bob Meese, says that the key to the success of Android around the world depends largely on providing multiple ways for gamers to shell out money for games. In a talk during the GamesBeat 2014 conference today, Meese noted that Android has a market share when it comes to devices, but he admitted that Apple’s App Store has had an advantage due to having iTunes customers’ payment information for years. To compete, the company is investing in multiple ways for people to pay.

“We have had a great growth period of getting people who are able to associate their payment information with Google Play,” said Meese.

But Google isn’t waiting for everyone to come online with a credit card before enabling them to spend money on Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. Meese noted Google’s work to implement payment methods that are more popular in emerging markets.

“There’s 26 countries where we offer direct carrier billing,” he said. “We have 22 countries where we sell Google Play gift cards, and we have PayPal payments available in 12 different countries.”

Carrier billing is an incredibly popular way for paying for games and in-app purchases in Asia — although this method also works around the world. Direct carrier billing is when gamers go into Google Play and buy something and charge the cost of that item to their phone bill. It doesn’t require a credit card, and it greatly reduces the payment-process friction. Gift cards and PayPal are also popular alternatives.

“[Payments] is an area where we’ve seen improvement and growth,” said Meese. “And it’s an area where we’re investing in.”

Meese touched on how its investment in payments represents a wider trend within Google to improve its tools for the companies making games. These include working to provide developers with ways of understanding how consumers use Google Play as well as localizing games for international markets.

“We want to create opportunities for game developers,” said Meese. “We have these general-purpose platforms at Google, but we can make them smarter for the gaming community.”


Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.00.11 PMGamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Tickets are limited!


Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »











Google launches Android One in India, its plan to bring quality smartphones to everyone

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 5:20 am
Google launches Android One in India, its plan to bring quality smartphones to everyone
Image Credit: Google

Android’s future lies not in expensive, feature-packed smartphones for the tech elite. Instead, it’s all about getting smartphones to the rest of the world.

Google today officially launched Android One, its initiative for cheap-yet-high quality smartphones for developing countries. The program is debuting in India with three cheap devices starting at around $105 off-contract, and the company is also planning to expand the program to Indonesia, the Philippines, and the rest of South Asia by the end of the year.

Cheap Android devices have already helped the platform dominate smartphone market share (85 percent of smartphones shipped in the second quarter ran Android, according to IDC), but with Android One, Google is aiming to bring some stability to the low-end market. It’s similar to Google’s Nexus line, which highlights what Android can do for higher-end phones (while still focusing on relatively inexpensive off-contract pricing).

“Access for access’s sake is not enough,” wrote Google VP Sundar Pichai, who leads Android and Chrome, in a blog post today. “With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.”

And of course, it also helps that all of those new web users will likely be dependent on Google’s services.

Developing, refresh for updates.


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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »











Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

Wednesday 10 September 2014 @ 7:00 am
google-voice-hangouts2 For the last few years, it has always felt like Google Voice, the company’s VoIP calling solution, was on its way out. Instead, the video-centric Hangouts was getting all of the attention. But fret not, Google tells me that it is “growing its investment in Google Voice” and starting today, it will integrate Voice and Hangouts with the launch of its redesigned Hangouts apps… Read More



Mobile video ad spend will reach $1.5B by the end of the year (report)

Monday 8 September 2014 @ 5:00 pm
Mobile video ad spend will reach $1.5B by the end of the year (report)
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Mobile video ads could be the final frontier in the nascent mobile advertising space.

U.S. ad firms and marketers will spend about $1.5 billion on mobile video adds by the end of 2014, up from the $722 million spent last year. Mobile video ads accounted for nearly 19 percent of all digital video ad spending last year, a number that will climb to nearly 26 percent by the end of this year, according to eMarketer principal analyst David Hallerman.

“And by the year 2018, the number will quadruple to over $6 billion. This is huge growth,” Hallerman said.

“And let’s look at the big picture,” he added. “Mobile video ads are important.”

emarketer mobile video ad

Incredibly, there are no clear leaders in the space, unlike straight mobile ads, which Google dominates. Facebook is No. 2 in the space, followed by Twitter. The latter two companies posted astronomical growth in the mobile ad space in their second quarter results.

Still, mobile video ads accounted for just 1 percent of all the U.S. ad spend last year, Hallerman said. That total ad spend also includes the old bricks-and-mortar world of print (remember that?), radio, and outdoor advertising.

So why aren’t more advertisers embracing the mobile video ad spectrum?

“The thing that holds mobile video ads back is the frustration of watching video on slow 3G networks,” Hallerman said. “Changes need to made by the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world in order to deal with this.”

To be sure, the mobile ad sector itself is enormous and growing at an astonishing rate. Around 500 players live in the ecosystem, including mobile marketers, ad brokers, exchanges, data-analytics and gaming firms, and others. But not so for the mobile video space.

Analysts said the mobile ad ecosystem was worth more than $17 billion last year. By the end of the 2014, that number is expected to crest to $35 billion. But the mobile video ad space is different, and wide open, which is what makes the space so attractive to those wishing to become serious players.

“There is no one company that rules. Therefore, because it’s not being dominated, it’s very attractive for vendors and ad sellers. There’s no clutter in the space and nobody keeping anybody from the playing field,” Hallerman said.

But without question, Google, Facebook, and Twitter must be listening. And watching. But are they really?


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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »











Yes, this startup named itself after the Google-like company in HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’

Monday 8 September 2014 @ 10:31 am
Yes, this startup named itself after the Google-like company in HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’
Image Credit: HBO

HBO’s Silicon Valley show, whose first season aired this past spring, humored folks in the real Silicon Valley with its portrayal of a company named Hooli — a caricature of Google, probably with a hint of Facebook and other tech giants.

And this is why I just had to stop and click when I noticed a message in my inbox from a company named “Hooli.” Launching today, the real-life Hooli is a team communication tool (Asana-meets-Slack, if you will) whose founding team seems to be greatly inspired by HBO’s show.

Names of some of the show’s characters are even included in the demo screenshots on Hooli’s website. In fact, they relate to the fictitious trip to present at TechCrunch Disrupt, coincidentally going on this week. And while you’d think it would be a fake company, Hooli confirmed in an email to VentureBeat that it’s real.

Hooli is a desktop and mobile app aimed at helping teams communicate more efficiently, mainly “for tracking shorter sprints or following up with meetings,” according to the company’s website.

At first glance, it mostly looks like the HipChats and Slacks of the world, basically team chat on steroids, with file-sharing, filters, groups, and more.

However, Hooli seems to also borrow from project management tools such as Asana and Trello as well, enabling team members to create tasks and to input subtasks with teammates assigned to them in the “@who should !do #what” format. The tasks automatically funnel into each teammate’s own to-do list in the app.

But most importantly, these tasks and subtasks are actionable, meaning that a teammate can mark them as “done,” “in progress,” or “deferred,” which eliminates the traditional “status update” email messages yet keeps everyone in the loop.

As I mentioned, Hooli caught my eye because they picked their name well. I enjoy the silliness of the show, as it lampoons the place where I more or less grew up.

And Hooli’s team is pretty clever. If you go to the website’s FAQ section, looking to learn more, you get directed to the wise words of Gavin Belson, fake-Hooli’s chief executive.

“What is Hooli? Excellent question. Hooli isn’t just another high-tech company. Hooli isn’t just about software. Hooli … Hooli is about people. Hooli is about innovative technology that makes a difference. Transforming the world as we know it, making the world a better place through minimal message-oriented transport layers. I firmly believe we can only achieve greatness if first we achieve goodness.”

I’m assuming the startup doesn’t actually think it’s making “innovative technology … transforming the world as we know it,” but rather, is giving a nod to building tech tools to help people do their jobs and saving them time.

Oh, and “minimal message-oriented transport layers” has nothing to do with this startup. This fancy term refers to a type of Internet protocol, the most well-known of which, User Datagram Protocol, is mostly used for video and voice streaming, as well as the Domain Name System.

Hooli was created by Siddharth Kothari, Sagar Chandarana, and Shannon Sullivan. The team is currently based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.


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5 ways Google is leading … and Apple is trailing

Sunday 7 September 2014 @ 7:00 am
5 ways Google is leading … and Apple is trailing

Above: Android fighting off evil

Image Credit: Kalexanderson

The tech press, financial analysts, and the Apple Faithful are all eagerly anticipating Apple’s September 9th media event.

Expectations are running high as Apple prepares to announce it’s 8th-generation iPhone, alongside a wearable and services that aggregate health data and manage connected homes. (Check out our lengthy roundup of all the rumors and tidbits we’re hearing leading up to the iPhone 6 launch.)

Apple, it seems, is leading us all into the future.

And there’s good reason to believe that. With the debut of the iPhone in 2007 Apple launched the mobile revolution that we all enjoy today. 2010’s iPad saw a re-invention of the tablet, the end of the netbook, and the beginning of what’s been rightfully referred to as the Post PC Age – another massive paradigm shift lead by Apple.

But since then, Apple’s done anything but lead.

Today’s mobile tech landscape looks very different from 2007. Larger phones and smallish tablets have been in vogue for some time. Computerized watches and fitness trackers exist in a crowded market. In fact, for the last 18-24 months, every tech trend we mention here has been invented or re-invented by another Silicon Valley giant — Google.

Unless we anticipate a magnificent leapfrog in the usability of these established and growing technology sectors, Apple’s September 9 event will be seen by many as little more than an extremely well-marketed exercise in catch-up.

HTC One M8 hands-on 8

Above: Big-screen Android phones like HTC’s One have been around for years.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Big-screen phones

It’s widely believed that the September 9 event is primarily about the unveiling of not one but two iPhone devices — a form factor larger in size than the current range of devices (iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S). The reason is simple: Since the debut of the modern smartphone (read: iPhone), screen sizes have been growing right alongside consumer demand for larger devices.

The 4.7” and 5.5” devices we expect Apple to unveil were developed despite Apple’s traditional resistance to this trend. To be sure, Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) famously stated that there was no market for such devices. “You can’t get your hand around it,” Jobs said in response to questions about a larger smartphone. “No one’s going to buy that,” he concluded.

Nevertheless within a year of his passing, iPhone devices saw saw a modest increase in size to 4” from their predecessors’ previous 3.5” size in order to compete with the likes of the popular upcoming Nexus and HTC devices.

The larger iPhone 6 is a clear example of Apple following the path that Google’s Android devices blazed, rather than leading it.

Google Nexus 7 Android tablet hands-on

Above: Google’s Android platform proved smaller tablets were viable.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Smaller tablets

Where small tablets (7-9” diagonal) are concerned, Apple’s early miss-steps were impressive. The company’s dismissal of  pervasive evidence that more users would have more interest in a more versatile tablet was surprising. Apple’s leadership lampooned the tablet-using public when stating that users would have to “sand down their fingers” in order to make use of devices like the Nexus 7.

The now infamous Steve Jobs reality distortion field also cropped up with his statements around how people actually use tablets: “All tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to fit a tablet in our pockets is clearly the wrong tradeoff.”

With the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets in 2012, it became clear that market forces were going to require Apple to produce just such a device it had any interest in staying relevant in the tablet space it created. (Samsung also deserves credit for showing the potential of smaller tablets with its Galaxy Tab line, which launched in 2010.) It’s unclear whether demand fueled rumors or rumors fueled demand, but the launch of the iPad Mini was incredibly successful.

The iPad Mini now reportedly outsells the larger iPad. To this day, 4 of the top 5 best selling tablets on Amazon are in the 7 to 8 inch range.

There’s something to Apple’s strategy here: Despite the 15 million small tablets sold by Apple’s competitors in 2012, the demand showed Apple that, regardless of its early misgivings, there lay an opportunity. Missing out on those 15 million tablet sales could be looked at by some optimists as an investment that allowed Apple to gauge a market they were uncertain about before moving into it.

Google Now on the iPhone

Above: Google Now on the iPhone

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Voice recognition and productivity software

Voice recognition is one of the most compelling technologies emerging today. The promise of the functionality has a magical quality — one that turns your device into a digital friend rather than a digital pocket tool. This would probably explain why users are delighted when voice works and frustrated when it doesn’t.

Voice is an outlier for another reason. Apple’s Siri came first, but many would contend that it was half-baked. Siri was designed as a digital assistant from the start, rising to a higher calling than Google’s June 2011 roll out of Voice Search. The problem here is that Siri continues to fall flat in the face of Google’s voice technology when it comes to accuracy. While both systems will list results, only Google Now will sort those results or give you a retail store’s opening and closing hours.

The new Google Maps app on Android

Above: The new Google Maps app on Android

Image Credit: Google

Maps

There’s not much to say here. Google’s turn-by-turn directions gave Android users the ability to navigate with ease for nearly half a decade. Indeed, when Apple was using Google’s map data most iOS users content, despite the lack of turn-by-turn navigation. And while Apple’s invested heavily in its 2012 home grown map solution, Apple Maps continues to struggle in terms of accuracy when compared to Google’s map offering.

To be fair, Apple’s certainly gained map market share against Google’s map solution for iOS devices. But it seems more likely that the adoption is a side effect of the Maps app being the default navigation tool that launches from Mail, Messages, Siri, and other iOS functions.

What is clear is that Apple’s navigation solution was a reaction to a change in Apple’s strategic relationship with Google, rather than an attempt to lead in the space. The Cupertino tech giant was so unprepared for the Maps rollout that it later issued a public apology and encouraged users to download and make use of more reliable apps on the app store.

Motorola's Moto 360 Android smartwatch

Above: Motorola’s Moto 360 Android smartwatch

Image Credit: Motorola

Wearables

Another example of Google stepping up and donning the mantles of leadership is wearables.  First-mover Pebble (along with a mob of crowdfunding zealots), produced a ground-breaking, viable, computerized watch.

Google took the smartwatch model and created an Android-based platform around it – one that’s growing quickly with a diverse range options and software. These devices, though still in their infancy, have grown smarter over time.

An upcoming Android Wear update will let users leave clunky phones at home while on a jog or a bike ride, in an attempt to penetrate the market that Fitbit now controls with about 40% of fitness gadget share.


Still, Apple’s wearable prospects seem bright. Exciting rumors are delivering hopes of groundbreaking design, mated with features never-before-seen in a wearable device like wireless charging and miniaturized electronics that allow for as many as ten sensors.

Speculation on wearable devices aside, Apple didn’t lead these new tech paradigms. In addition to the large phones, the small tablets and the other trends mentioned above, it’s important to note that it hasn’t led in cloud services. Apple’s music offerings have been fragmented and stale. While it looks like they may take a stab at payments, aside from pairing a fingerprint sensor to it, the technology and functionality is again something we’ve seen before.

All of the above are cases where Apple’s software and interface prowess could have been leveraged to great effect in solving some real consumer pain points, yet over the last few years there’s been nothing out of Cupertino on these matters.

Apple needs to prove it can leapfrog Google on September 9. Otherwise it may not be able to catch up.

 


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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »











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