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Google's competitors

Google is the leader of the Internet. They own absolutely everything: search, email, online storage, news, video, analytics, advertising networks, social media, etc.

Does Google really have any competitors? Bing and Yahoo! are somewhat relevant, but they are not as big and widely used as Google. I think other companies will not contest Google for the foreseeable future, but there are some companies that are coming out with really innovative products that are making Google stay on their game.

Google Reader shut down recently, which really sucked for a lot of people because that was a great service. For those in the dark, Google Reader was a web-based aggregator that pulled content from RSS feeds and delivered it to you. People like me who are always looking for content loved this service; it was also good for daily news junkies, too.

A company called Feedly quadrupled its user base due to Google shutting down their service. Feedly filled the void when Google shut down and probably is making Google think twice about their decision.

Another excellent startup that is gaining traction lately is Leap2, which is a visual search engine that incorporates results from Twitter as well as websites and other data sources. It just sealed a $1.6-million investment and is well on its way.

Google Fiber is ultra-fast Internet that is exclusive in the United States. A company called OneGigabit is trying to attack Google and has decided to provide Canadians with a fibre-optic high-speed Internet network. OneGigabit is planning on charging customers $45 to $65 per month, while Google Fiber is much more costly. I like to see these new companies popping up and trying to give the old boys a run for their money. Competition inspires innovation.


Microsoft Surface

I was invited to the Microsoft Surface press conference in Winnipeg about a year ago and had the chance to play with the product for a while. I enjoyed the technology and innovation Microsoft was trying to push -- I just thought the price-point was too high and they were missing a huge portion of the market because of it.

The Surface has been on the market for a while now, and I don't think it's doing to well. Tech source the Verge reported this week the prices of the Surface are being slashed by 30 per cent, which is $150 off the original price. Microsoft tried entering the tablet market in the upper end and it just didn't work out. The Kindle Fire, which is $169, is an exact example of what Microsoft should've aimed for. If tablets are cheap, with good features, people will buy them. People don't want a super-expensive tablet, they want something at a mid-range price that can do everything they want. The Microsoft Surface could do anything a tablet user wanted, but it was too expensive, and the consumer would just rather buy an iPad.


Serval Project

Cellphones are completely dependent on telecommunications networks. To make a call or send a text, you need service.

Almost everyone in the world has a mobile phone; they've become an incredibly important component in our society. Cellphones allow you to communicate in times of need and in times of not.

The Serval Project wants to enable people in areas where there isn't service, and in developing countries where making a cellphone call can cost hours of wages make a phone call easily.

According to a report on Mashable, "The service makes it possible for nearby phones to join a mesh network without being modified to sidestep default restrictions on Wi-Fi networking in Google's mobile operating system.

The free app for Android phones developed by Serval has nearby phones link up to one another using Wi-Fi, creating a 'mesh' network in which every device can act as a stepping stone to help data travel between any other."

Serval is currently running a campaign to raise $300,000 to keep advancing the development of the mesh extender. It's incredibly inspiring to see technology advance for good causes. The Serval Project isn't in it for the money or the glory, they just really want to give an opportunity to less privileged people and others who need to communicate where there isn't means.

If you want to learn more, visit the You can also find out how to get involved to help on the web page as well.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2013 ??65521

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