Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we highlight Google’s algorithm update and launch of Project Fi, Comcast’s dropped bid for Time Warner Cable, and Verizon’s rocky launch of Custom TV.
Google has busy week, rolls out new “mobile friendliness” search algorithm and Project Fi
Google updated its search algorithm to prioritize mobile-friendly sites, and lower the ranking of sites that are not mobile-optimized, in mobile search results.
The algorithm update occurred on Monday, which was dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” The change will increase the ranking of a website in mobile search results if:
- the text on the webpage is readable without tapping or zooming,
- links are spaced properly so tapping the correct one isn’t difficult,
- the webpage avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.
This is big news for businesses, as those that don’t have mobile-friendly sites will see a drop in their mobile search ranking. Google’s last search update, called “Panda,” impacted 11% of all search results, and this update is expected to have a larger impact. Check out if your site is mobile-optimized here.
The company also launched Project Fi, a partnership with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide fast, seamless mobile connectivity. Instead of building out a network of towers, Google will combine Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s cellular networks with thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots to create its own network.
For example, if you started your phone call using Sprint’s network and came across a spot where connectivity was weak, Fi would assess whether T-Mobile’s network or a Wi-Fi connection would be faster and immediately connect you to that service with no interruption. That’s pretty sweet.
Plans start at $20 per month with a $10 per month charge for each gigabyte of data. And if you don’t use up all of your data in a given month, Google will refund you the monetary equivalent of your unused data.
Once again, Google is changing the game, and incumbents should be worried.
Comcast drops bid to buy Time Warner Cable
Fourteen months ago, Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion dollars. Today, that deal is dead in the water.
Comcast walked away from the deal this morning due to scrutiny from regulators that the combined entity would be monopolistic and a threat to competition and innovation. The deal would have created a company that controls over half of the nation’s access to broadband and about a third of its access to television.
The Department of Justice said that the breaking of the deal is in the best interests of consumers. The DOJ feared that the merger would cost consumers more and give the new entity too much power over citizens’ online and TV content.
Verizon FiOS’s Custom TV bundle launches, ruffles feathers
Verizon announced its Custom TV bundle to lure back cord cutters, and some networks are not happy.
Custom TV allows customers to select groups of channels to which they’d like to subscribe, instead of paying for a thousand channels that they won’t watch. So for instance, you would purchase a base package of phone, internet and standard channels that include broadcast networks and popular cable networks like CNN for $75 per month. With this, you would receive two “channel packs” such as the Entertainment (FX, TBS, TNT, etc.) or the Sports (ESPN, NBC Sports Network, etc.) pack. Then you can add additional packs for $10 per month.
Networks like ESPN, Fox, and NBC are up in arms, claiming that Verizon is breaking contract agreements by including them in separate package options. Customers should like the increased freedom of choice of Custom TV, but networks clearly don’t.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.