Google Offers a New Threat to Groupon

The daily-deal leader was never profitable, but at least it was growing quickly. Now, after a lackluster third quarter, Groupon is shifting the focus again by saying no one can compete with its huge scale, in particular its email list of 143 million and sales force of nearly 5,000 world-wide. Google showed last week how it can do just that, with a clever plan to resell other companies' deals.
A dozen-plus sites like kgbdeals, zozi and Gilt City will now distribute their deals through Google Offers. Not only will they keep the lion's share of revenue and benefit from Google's huge reach, they can also rely on Google's technology to target deals at users most likely to buy them. That makes more sense than fighting each other, not to mention Groupon and Living Social, for email inbox space.
Google benefits by outsourcing sales costs: kgbdeals alone has a sales team of 250, says Chief Executive Patrick Albus. More deals mean higher-quality local search results. And as the undisputed search leader, Google has the potential to reach many more users than simply those signed up for daily-deal emails. The company is already experimenting with "Offer Ads," a service that places deals against search results.
Facebook tried a similar strategy but pulled the plug in August. Yet Google looks more focused. Its recent $114 million purchase of German deal specialist Daily Deal, not to mention its previous $5 billion offer for Groupon, testify to its desire to be a deal leader. Restaurant deals will appeal when placed next to Zagat's reviews, which Google just picked up. And travel deals may fit nicely with another recent acquisition, ITA Software.
Groupon says scale is its trump card. Google, it seems, begs to differ.


Google, Yahoo! Soon To Launch Digital Newsstands

Both Yahoo! and Google are expected to unravel their new digital newsstand apps next week, says a report from All Things D. Yahoo will launch Livestand, aimed at tablets and mobile phones and will offer content to people based on their personal interests. Livestand will feature content from Yahoo!’s properties as well as outside publications.
Tapping on the publication brings you into a screen with one main story on top and three or four smaller ones at the bottom. All of the boxes include eye catching photos, and they are customized based on preferences that have been determined thanks to activity on Yahoo.
In the meantime, Google’s Propeller is also expected to arrive, although we might witness a name change to “Currents” before it’s officially unveiled to the public. According to All Things D, the Google Propeller is powered by HTML5 technology and is essentially a Flipboard that offers full integration with Google+.
Google’s e-newsstand will enable newspapers and magazines to showcase their apps for Android smartphones and tablets. Google hopes to launch it in part to provide a more consistent experience for consumers who want to read periodicals on Android devices, and to help publishers collect payment for their apps. Some of the publishers approached by Google are Time Warner’s Time Inc, Conde Nast and Hearst. Also Google is due to take a lesser share from the revenue, compared to Apple’s 30 percent charge on sale of apps over iTunes counter.
Both companies will be after Flipboard, which has been downloaded 4 million times and has lined up 50 publishing partnerships. It also has a very tight connection with social networks Twitter and Facebook.


How to Create a Google+ Profile For Your Business

Google+ has finally opened up business profiles to its Google Apps for Business users, presumably in an effort to roll out any kinks before throwing their doors open to the world. Being first at bat can have intangible benefits on the Internet, including a valuable backlink to your company website from your Google+ profile. Here's how to join this limited group of users and make the most of your Google+ profile before everyone else.

First, you'll need Google Apps for Business--which is definitely useful, but we're just using it to get to your Google+ business profile for now. If your business already has that established, contact your IT administrator about adding Google+ to your account. (You can share this article for reference.) Note that these following steps are for account administrators.
If you don't have Google Apps for Business, the price of entry--in addition to $5/month per user--is a website on your own domain, which we'll assume you have. Go to this page to get started. Remember to choose a strong password unlike your others, since this is for business. If you're already signed in to another Google account, you'll be asked to sign in with your new Google Apps account. Do it.
Google Apps Dashboard and Verification
You'll be taken to your Google Apps Dashboard, which gives an Express or Custom setup option. If you're an IT manager for a larger corporation, this is where we part ways as you run off to Custom land, where you do all the stuff I don't need to tell you how to do.
For the rest of you non-technical types, click Express, then Next. A process will ask you to verify ownership of your domain. If you don't manage your own website, you'll have to send the file off to your design house to be uploaded into the root of your Web directory. Copy and paste the information you're given on the verification screen to send to them, and download the required file. Click Verify once the file is uploaded, and you're off to the races.
Set Up Your Apps
Uncheck Gmail on this screen since it's a pain to set up if your hosting provider isn't on the drop down list. Keep Docs and Calendar checked and keep on clicking Next. On the billing screen, click Do This Later unless you really want to give Google money immediately. Choose your mobile devices on the next screen (note Google's "Our Favorite!" next to Android). After this point, keep on clicking Do This Later unless you want to explore the options available to you. You're officially done setting up Google Apps, and now can get to the good stuff.
Set Up Google+ on Your Google Apps Account
Click on the Organization & users tab on your Google Apps Dashboard. Right now, you can only enable Google+ for specific users. Click the users you want to add the services for, then click the Services tab.
Before enabling Google+, you'll need to enable Google Talk and Picasa Web Albums under that services tab. Both are automatically set to be on.
Next, scroll down to Google+ (Pro tip: It will be one of the only services not enabled automatically) and set it toOn. Save your changes at the bottom of the page, and you have a shiny new Google+ profile for your business.
Set Up Your Google+ Profile
Go to your Google Calendar or Google Docs page, as long as you've already enabled them in Google Apps. If you're still signed in under your Google Apps for Business user name, you'll see your Google+ profile in the upper right. Click on the spot where a photo should be and hit Create Profile. As we've already suggested, creating a separate profile for your business is preferable if you're in a larger company, since IT admins and others will have access to your Google+ stream. However, if you are a micro-business and already active in Google+ circles, Google is working on a migration tool for you to port your current profile on over to your Google Apps profile.
When creating your profile, keep in mind that you're creating a business profile. The "Bragging Rights" section probably shouldn't include being able to drink 20 shots of Jäger and walk home. I've already devoted a story to creating a great Google+ profile, so check it out.
Finish Your Profile and Invite Friends
Once you're done with your profile, return to your Calendar or Docs. Click next on your profile picture at the top right, and click on Google+. You should be invited to join Google+ again (or not; it's in beta mode, so anything could happen) and click on some people you want to follow. If you go to your home screen, you're given the option in the right sidebar of inviting people by email. You're not given a unique URL yet that you can share on your business cards and email signatures, but hopefully that's coming soon.
After puttering around on Google+ for a while now, I can see why it could end up being the business social network of choice. If you have a business-only account, you'll be interacting with people from your industry and clients rather than trying to shut your chat availability to "off" to avoid your great-aunt's repeated questions about your family plans. It's not a replacement for Facebook, but it could knock LinkedIn off its perch as the predominant social network for business.


Google Apps Users Finally Get Google+

Google on Thursday announced a number of updates to its Google+ social network, including the ability to access the service via Google Apps.
Google+ is also getting a trending topics of sorts called "What's Hot," a feature that will let you track the popularity of posts, and a photo-editing tool.
On the Google Apps front, those who use the service for school, work, or at home can now integrate with Google+.
"Starting now you can manually turn on Google+ for your organization," Ronald Ho, a Google product manager, said in a blog post. "Once Google+ is turned on, your users will just need to sign up at to get started. For customers who use Google Apps for Business or the free version of Google Apps and who have chosen to automatically enable new services, Google+ will automatically become available to all of your users over the next several days."
The Google Apps version will have the same features as the regular Google+, with a few perks. "In addition to sharing publicly or with your circles, you'll also have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven't added all of those people to a circle," Ho wrote.
That might have been a useful feature for the Google engineer who recently sent out a rant intended for internal eyes only to his public feed.
About two dozen universities are adding Google+ to their Google Apps lineup today, including Wake Forest, Arizona State, and the University of Minnesota.
For those who started Google+ with a personal account but want to switch to their Google Apps account, Ho said Google was building a migration tool to help facilitate that.
"With this tool, you won't have to rebuild your circles, and people who've already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile," he wrote. "We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you'd like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available."

Why wasn't this available when Google+ first launched? Ho said "it took more technical work than we expected," but promised to continue adding features along the way.
One of those new features is "What's Hot," which sounds similar to Twitter's trending topics. Users can access these hot topics in two areas—the "What's Hot" option on the left-hand bar, and the "What's Hot on Google+" link that will appear below all the posts in your stream. Clicking on either link will take you to a list of popular posts that are trending on the site. If there's one from a member you find interesting, add them to your Circles directly from the "What's Hot" page.
Want to see if your post is gaining in popularity? Google+ Ripples is a new visualization tool that shows you how your post was shared after you post to Google+, but you can also chart the activity of other public posts.
To view, pick a post and click "View Ripples." You can then "replay its activity, zoom in on certain events, identify top contributors and much more," Google said. "Google+ Ripples is still experimental, so let us know how we can make it more informative and more awesome."
Another feature coming to Google+ is Creative Kit, which is basically a simplified photo-editing tool. For a limited time, Google is adding Halloween-centric special effect options, and inviting users to submit their creations in a Google-run photo contest. Just tag your pics with the #gplushalloween hashtag on Google+, and a "surprise panel of celebrities" will choose a winner on November 3.


Google Chrome 15: What's New

'New Tab' page showcases Web apps in the way that mobile phones showcase native apps.

Google's Chrome Web browser reached version 15 on its Stable channel on Tuesday, bringing with it a redesigned New Tab page and over two dozen security fixes.
Google uses the term Stable channel to refer to a version of its browser software that has been deemed to be sufficiently bug-free for general release. The company's Beta channel and Dev channel offer less reliable builds of its browser for testing. There are also Canary builds, untested builds released daily for developers.
The New Tab page has been designed to showcase Web apps in the way the mobile phones showcase native apps. When the user opens a new tab in Chrome, he or she will see either thumbnail images of recently visited sites or icons representing installed Web apps.
Google wants users to think of their browser as a local store of content, as a destination, rather than as a gateway through which remote Web apps can be accessed. Creating a sense of ownership and investment in one's browser and the Web apps "installed" there should help dispel lingering notions about the inferiority of Web apps and help convince users that native apps and Web apps are interchangeable.
Google Apps is winning fans among government agencies. Read Google Apps Selected For Energy Dept. Lab.
In conjunction with the revised tab page, Google has redesigned the Chrome Web Store, the company's answer to native app stores. The new look matches the refined look that has been applied to other Google properties recently, like Blogger and Gmail.
The Chrome Web Store is now more graphically oriented, presumably because images enhance app marketing.
"Apps and extensions are now presented in a wall of images that's updated every time you visit the store," explained Google product manager Shannon Guymon in a blog post. "We hope this will help you quickly scan the store and find interesting things to try out. In addition, apps and extensions are easier to install--just hover over an image on the grid and click 'Add to Chrome.'"
Clicking on Chrome Web Store images now opens a window panel with three tabs--Overview, Details, and Reviews--and a scroll bar. The panel includes a main screenshot or video and addition screenshot thumbnails below.
The Reviews tab includes user product reviews that link to the Google+ profiles of reviewers, if they have Google+ accounts. The bulk of the reviews at the moment, however, predate the release of Google+ and just say, "A Google User." Google says it anonymized these previously submitted reviews to protect user privacy.


Google faces more govt demands

Google is dealing with more government demands to turn over information about its users as more people immerse themselves online.

The mounting pressure on the internet search leader emerged in a statistical snapshot that Google Inc released of its dealings with authorities around the world. Google provided a country-by-country capsule of its legal sparring with authorities during the first six months of the year.
This is the fourth time Google has disclosed a six-month summary of government requests since it started reporting the numbers last year following a high-profile showdown with China's communist government over online censorship. In the update, Google included the total number of user accounts targeted, instead of just the number of requests made by police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies at all levels of government worldwide.
Google received more than 15,600 requests for user data in January through June period, 10 percent more than during the final six months of last year. The requests in the latest period spanned more than 25,400 individual accounts worldwide - a tiny fraction of Google's more than billion users.
Google became a caretaker of sensitive personal information through its dominant search engine, which processes about two of every three online queries in the US and an even larger share of queries in parts of Europe. The company also vacuums up information about what people are doing and thinking through its YouTube video service and increasingly popular Gmail service for communications. Meanwhile, Google is trying to get users to share even more tidbits about their lives on a social networking service called Plus, which has attracted more than 40 million accountholders since it debuted in June as an alternative to Facebook.
All that information makes Google a potentially valuable resource for authorities fighting crime, terrorism or other activities.
The highest volume of government demands for user data came from the US (5950 requests, a 29 percent increase from the previous six-month stretch); India (1739 requests, up 2 percent); France (1300 requests, up 27 percent); Britain (1273 requests, up 10 percent); and Germany (1060 requests, up 38 percent).
Google also listed how many times governments sought to censor video on the company's widely watched YouTube video site or demanded some other piece of content be removed for reasons ranging from privacy concerns to laws prohibiting hate speech.
The volume of worldwide censorship demands from governments remained at roughly the same level it reached in the previous six months, although there were sharp spikes in some countries. In Britain, for instance, the government asked Google to remove 220 videos from YouTube during the first six months of this year, compared with 40 videos during the previous six months. The British government wanted most of the videos taken down for "national security" reasons.
Google declined to provide more details on the videos that the British government saw as national security risks. Britain's Home Office would only say that "the government takes the threat of online extremism or hate content very seriously".
Google acquiesced to 82 percent of the British government's censorship demands in whole or part, according to the breakdown.
The company usually complies with at least a portion of most government demands. Google has said it often has little choice because it must obey laws in the countries where it operates. The alternative is to leave, as it did last year when it shifted its search engine to Hong Kong so it wouldn't have to follow mainland China's censorship requirements.
In the US, Google gave federal, state and other agencies what they wanted 93 percent of the time. The nearly 6000 requests affected more than 11,000 user accounts in January through June.
In India, Google honored 70 percent of the 1739 requests, which targeted more than 2400 users, the second-highest totals.
Google, which is based in Mountain View, Calif, rejected the most government demands for user information in Argentina, where it denied 68 percent of requests. It complied with less than 50 percent of government requests for user data in Canada, Chile, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and South Korea.
By disclosing how many government requests it receives every six months, Google hopes to encourage the passage of new laws that will give the company more leverage to deny government access to people's online communications and activities.


Google Is Mulling a Bid for Yahoo!

Google is interested in purchasing the "core business" of its rival Yahoo--a move that could put it up against other tech giant, Microsoft, in its bid for the company. Though the move is still in its "early-stage discussions" and no formal bid has been put together, The Journal lays out the case for why the move could be a win for Google.

Google is interested in selling some advertising across Yahoo's websites—something Yahoo largely does on its own today—according to people familiar with the matter.

Any deal involving Google could also bring other opportunities, such as bring Google's social-networking service Google+ to Yahoo's audience of nearly 700 million unique visitors a month, these people said.

Yahoo also has relationships with many so-called premium content publishers such as ABC News, which provides video and other content for Yahoo sites and for which Yahoo currently sells ads. Google is interested in having deeper business relationships with such publishers, one of these people said.

Of course, in addition to Microsoft's joint bid at the company, the same anti-trust concerns that stopped an "advertising partnership" between Google and Yahoo in 2008 could stymie the search company's efforts,The Journal reports.


Google Page Speed Online Tool Now Available for All

Google’s Page Speed Online tool is ready to face the music, as it has been set loose from Google Labs and is now available for everyone to use...

Now you can check your website speed by dropping your web site URL into the search bar of the tool page and your websites loading speed will be provided on a scale of 1 to 100. Plus, you will also get feedback on how you could increase your page’s loading speed.

For webmasters who care about the user experience on their website, this tool is a must, especially when a fast loading website is one of the major factors in reducing visitor’s bounce rates.

When this tool was first released, the team at Search Engine Roundtable asked its readers if they would use the tool. The results were surprising – 47% said you would, while 30% said they wouldn’t and the rest were not sure. Considering that page speed is one of the factors Google uses in its algorithm to determine ranking, I would have thought that any tool to help with this would be well received. 

But more importantly, your website needs to load quickly if you want your visitors to actually stick around. In this fast-paced, visitors are not even willing to wait 10 seconds for a page to load. 

They will simply move onto the next website – I bet you do the same? So why would you jeopardize your website’s success?

If you’re keen to take the Google Page Speed Online tool for a test drive, you can do so here.

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to ensure your website is up to scratch for the impending visitor stampede. 

Your website’s loading time is going to be a major factor in whether these visitors turn into customers.

Have you tried this new Google tool? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts on it below.


Google Plus user base crosses 40 million mark

NEW YORK: Internet firm Google's online social networking service 'Google Plus' has crossed 40 million users mark since its launch in June. 
Google Plus now has attracted 40 million users, reflecting the huge interest in the social networking site which was opened to the public on September 20.

Earlier, the service was available only through invitation as part of trial runs. 

Interestingly, rival Facebook Inc took three years to reach the 25 million users mark and crossed the over 50 million active users mark in October, 2007. 

Facebook, founded in 2004, has now more than 800 million users across the globe. 

"Google Plus is now open to everyone and we just passed the 40 million user mark. People are flocking into Google Plus at an incredible rate and we are just getting started," Google Chief Executive Larry Pagesaid while announcing the company's latest quarterly earnings. 

Google unveiled 'Google Plus' in late June as part of efforts to garner a share of the lucrative social networking space that has so far been dominated by Mark Zuckerberg-led Facebook. 

During the quarter, Google has reported a 26 per cent jump in its net income to USD 2.73 billion in July-September 2011, helped by robust advertising business. 

It registered revenue of USD 9.72 billion for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, an increase of 33 per cent over USD 7.28 billion in the same period last year.


New Google Plus features to be launched soon

New Google Plus features are set to be launched soon to make it enticing for users. With over 40 million users in a month, Google+ has becoimne a hot property.

At the Web 2.0 Summit held in San Francisco, Vic Gundotra, Google’s vice president of engineering and Sergey Brin appeared on stage.
Talking about the wide and instant popularity of Google+, Gundotra said, “Not bad for a first month. It exceeded our wildest expectations.
Brin and Gundotra informed that since freeing Google+ from the smartphone, more than 3.4 billion photos have been uploaded to Google+.
Gundotra also announced that Google+ would be tyied to other apps within a few days now. Soon after brand pages would be seen and with Christmas a more coherent Google+ strategy would be in order..
Brin, intimately involved in the design of Google+, gushed, “I’m not a very social person myself; I have spent time on social networks, Friendster, or Orkut… or Facebook or Twitter. I haven’t been active on many of them. Google+ instantly felt compelling.”
Backing Brin, Gundotra added, “There is a reason that every thought in your head does not come out your mouth.”
Gundotra stressed that since most users are on Google, they would eventually find clicking on the icon just on the right easier than opening the Facebook page.
Brin added, “I completely agree with you that some of our products and services seem scattered over the past few years. In some ways we’ve always run the company in letting a thousand flowers bloom. But once they do bloom, you want to pay together a coherent bouquet.”


Google+: Across the 'early adopter' chasm?

Google+ has officially moved out of its infancy, the social project's product manager Bradley Horowitz explains 

Horowitz said Google+ has "reached beyond the early adopters" and now has 40 million users. Even with that strong early growth, Google+ is actually still a project and not a product, Horowitz said. That means the company faces quite a bit of work to bring Google+ up to snuff.

A key component in that, Horowitz said, is bringing the "Google" by integrating other Web services into the Google+ ecosystem to make the project a far more well-rounded offering.
Google CEO Larry Page echoed that sentiment during his company's earnings call earlier this week, telling analysts that Google has big plans for its social project.
It's still incredibly early days for Google+ because our goal is actually far bigger than the individual feature launches themselves,"Page said. "Our ultimate ambition is to transform the overall Google experience, making it beautifully simple, almost automagical, because we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly."
Google launched its Google+ project earlier this year. The service has a host of social features, including group chatting and the ability to share content only with certain people, thanks to a feature called Circles. However, at 40 million users, the social network has a long way to go to catch Facebook. At the F8 conference last month, Facebook said that it now has over 800 million active users worldwide.
Surprisingly, Google co-founder Sergey Brin has acknowledged that he wasn't so sure Google+ should have launched with all the features that it did. At the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday, Brin said that he fought against some Google+ features, but that he "was wrong."
Horowitz said Google has learned from its early social-networking mistakes. Its decision to bring pseudonyms to Google+ after insisting that it wouldn't is the direct result of users making the case for pseudonyms "with great passion," he said.
That's not the only Google+ change on the horizon. The company is also planning to "imminently" add brand pages to Google+, according to the company's senior vice president of engineering, Vic Gundotra, who spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday.

Google+: Users Want More Features


Shah Rukh meets fans on Google Plus Hangout

Shah Rukh Khan is leaving no stones unturned for the promotion of his super hero science fiction flick RA.One. He has endorsed products, launched video games, taken a metro ride in New Delhi and attended innumerable press briefings.
The latest promotional trick out of his hat is a chat with his fans on Google Plus Hangout where he will talk more about his role G.One in the film written and directed by Anubhav Sinha.
Besides Khan, the film stars Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Shahana Goswami, Dalip Tahil and Chinese-American actor Tom Wu. It has cameo appearance by Rajinikanth, Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra. The film is jointly produced by Eros International and Khan's production company, Red Chillies Entertainment.

Google Plus Hangouts allows users to get on to a multi-person video chat with a number of people. Khan is the first ever movie superstar to connect with his fans on a Google+ hangout.
To join the hangout, go to Google+, search for Shah Rukh Khan on Google+ and add him to your circles. You will get a notification in your stream, as soon as Shah Rukh is 'Live'.
Nine fans can join Khan in every hangout, and everyone else will be able to see the video chat live on his Google+ profile. Khan will host multiple hangouts to meet as many of his fans as he can.
The Google Plus event is scheduled at 1500 IST.


Galaxy Nexus to debut next month

Big news for Android lovers, Android 4.0 aka Icecream Sandwich OS running Galaxy Nexus to hit the market next month

Google and Samsung announces the launch of most awaited, first Android 4.0 (Icecream sandwich) running Galaxy Nexus.

The smartphone was in the rumours for a long time, which has now finally confirmed that Samsung's manufactured Google phone to debut in the coming month.

As mentioned in the leaks, the device has a 4.65-inches large and attractive HD Super AMOLED Plus display screen. Also, an in-line powerful 1.2GHz dual core processor that allows speedy multitasking.

The newly launched Galaxy Nexus is also the first Android smartphone featuring software buttons, in place of the hardware counterparts.

The smartphone is powered by Android 4.0 operating system, Galaxy Nexus equips a better NFC support. It also has got a completely new notification system, and enhanced multitasking functionalities.
The Galaxy Nexus also features some excellent components comprising a 1,750mAh mammoth battery that render long hours of talk time over the smartphone. Besides, it has a 1 GB of RAM, alternatives to choose from 16 or 32GB of storage plus a 5-megapixel camera at the back that can shoot 1080p video.

A few new and exciting features of the device also includes, an all new People app, makeover to camera interface and Face unlock attribute.

The Google's new Galaxy Nexus smartphone will be shipped in countries of Europe, USA, and Asia starting next month.


Google launches online safety campaign

Google has launched a campaign in collaboration with the Citizens Advice Bureau to increase awareness of online threats by making complicated online privacy issues easy to understand for users.

According to a report on BBC, the campaign covers various topics including choosing a strong password, recognizing phishing e-mail, understanding secure Web sites, signing out of online accounts and using two-factor authentication for services such as e-mail.

Titled "Good to Know", the initiative also uses a series of cartoons to simplify complicated online privacy issues and features an information booklet that touches on the way search information is used to sell advertising. A higher profile poster campaign focuses on broader industry problems.

"We thought that the first thing we have to do is earn the right to be informative," Anthony House, Google 's policy and communications manager, said in the report. "The long-term success of our business is totally tied up in people feeling comfortable spending more time online, so this is a really important campaign for us."

House acknowledged that Google had given users cause for concern including the Street View debate, where the company's photo-taking cars had intercepted personal user information being sent over Wi-Fi. Describing the image-based location services as a "complicated product", he said Google had thought deeply about the types of privacy protections that should be in place.

He added that Google did not always "get everything right" and that they have "learned a lot from mistakes" made in the past. "This campaign is one of the many manifestations of those lessons," he said.

Commenting on Google's new campaign, Sopho's senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, wrote in a blog post that awareness campaigns about online safety were important as most Internet users were unsure about how to secure their computers and browse online safely.

The U.K.-based executive explained that this was not due to a lack of user interest but that many consumers did not know where to turn, or found it difficult to understand complex IT terminologies.

Cluley added that the Google campaign would be successful only  if the majority of Internet users who were not "techie geeks" learnt something about how to protect themselves online.

Singapore also marked the country's first Cyber Security Awareness day in April this year as part of efforts to increase online awareness and push for greater user responsibility such as the adoption of stronger passwords.

Google gets a facelift

Google has been described as functional, powerful, scary, speedy and fun. But beautiful? Hardly ever.

CEO Larry Page is trying to change all that, cribbing a note from one of his business role models and competitors, the late Steve Jobs and Apple. Almost immediately after becoming CEO in April, Page ordered a redesign of Google's online properties, attempting to create a unified look and feel that would proclaim "Google," just as the aesthetic character of Apple products render them instantly recognizable.

Google's new, less-cluttered design debuted with the Google+ social network at the end of June, and is now being phased in to Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Search and other Google sites across the company's online empire. The universal redesign is the first in the company's 13-year history. While Google's plans for a wholesale facelift were overshadowed by the hubbub over Google+, Page months before had set in motion a crash program by the company's user interface (UI) designers to remake the face of Google.

"Larry likes things done fast, so he was like, 'Hey guys, can we completely transform Google's look and feel by the summer?' " said Jon Wiley, the company's lead user experience designer for search. "As designers, we kind of felt like we were the dog that had caught the car."

With its geeky, data-driven identity, Google has rarely been lauded for its aesthetics. But with consumers flocking to Apple's iPhones and iPads, and with Facebook launching new products that emphasize look and feel as well as functionality, Google and other Internet companies are increasingly focused on how they look, as well as how they work.

"It's really clear that consumers care about (design) now," said Khoi Vinh, former design director for the New York Times' website, who is working on a startup connected to the iPad. "In an earlier age when tech was still rough and immature, you could win on technology alone. But now, tech is mature enough that people really value and look for the best possible design. It's why Apple sold 4 million iPhone 4S's over the weekend."

Facebook made waves in design circles in April when it bought Daytum , a startup for collecting personal statistics and sharing them through striking digital graphics, bringing its principals Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case to Silicon Valley from New York to work on its upcoming "Timeline" feature. Facebook touted the acquisition at its annual developer conference this year, and Vinh said other tech startups, like Groupon, Airbnb and Pinterest have raised the bar for online aesthetics.

Page "cares passionately about great design," and believes a common "design language" could unify Google's array of online products, Wiley said.

The redesign includes new shapes for buttons, the hiding of many controls until they're needed, resulting in a cleaner look; consistency of appearance across desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones; and a "color language" where bolder reds, blues and greens all have specific meanings. Even the search homepage -- a product whose aesthetic minimalism has been praised in the past -- got a revamp, with a smaller Google logo.

Google's facelift has drawn praise from design experts, although the consensus remains that the company hasn't matched Apple. On his blog, Vinh called the update, "less beholden to the brutally analytical decision-making that has guided Google product design and aesthetics in the past."

In an interview, he called the Google redesign changes "competent," and "professional," but said there was room for improvement: "I don't think any of them are as much of a wow moment of what you would get from Apple, which is one of their main competitors."

Page tried to drum up some attention on Thursday, bringing up the changes during Google's quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts, as he talked about how Google+ is intended to be a model for the rest of Google.

"Our ultimate ambition is to transform the overall Google experience, making it beautifully simple, almost automagical, as we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly," Page said.

"Think about it this way: Last quarter, we shipped the +, and now we're going to ship the Google part," Page told analysts. "The new visual design -- beautiful, consistent UIs for Search, News, Maps, Translate, and lots of other features -- is only the beginning of that process."

Wiley, a former improvisational comedian who once hoped for a career on "Saturday Night Live" before discovering the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s, said removing "clutter" is one of the biggest thrusts for the redesign.

Google has always been colorful, he said, but its use of color has not always been effective. Color "is additional information for the eye; it creates a lot of visual information. That can start to actually get in the way of the content. What we wanted to do was be sure there was a focus on the content."

In the new Google design, a bolder red is a cue the user is about to create something, such as a new spreadsheet. Blue is the color of action, meaning "do it; go for it; make it happen," Wiley said. Green is the color of sharing.

There are fewer visible controls. In Google Docs, for example, the buttons to organize or delete a spreadsheet are hidden until you click on the file. And the buttons are designed to work for touch screens as well as mouse-driven clicks.

Wiley said the personality and culture of a company should translate into the feel and function of its products.

"Yeah, we are creating a language for Google," he said. "We are trying to tell a story with the design that is reflective of Google's character and personality, the things that make Google, Google. It's kind of hard to describe in word.