Google Acquires Digital Coupons/Incentives Platform Zave Networks To Bulk Up Commerce

zavenetworks_groupshot

Since 2006, Zave Networks has been working on digitizing coupons and loyalty rewards programs with products like Zavers. With the rise of smartphones, the market has been exploding. Today, Zave Networks takes their cause to a much bigger potential audience: Google has just acquired them.

As they have announced on their site, “When we had the opportunity to join Google, we felt it was the perfect fit for our company and the perfect opportunity to rapidly drive the deployment and use of our platform to the next level.”

Says a Google spokesperson:

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Zave Networks team to Google. They have developed an impressive platform to connect consumers with coupons, special offers and reward programs for their favorite businesses, and we look forward to their joining our Commerce team.”

We hear that Zave will continue to offer their services to consumers, retailers, and marketers for now. But the play for Google here appears to be to bulk up their Commerce and Wallet products.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed.


Company:
GOOGLE
Launch Date:
7/9/1998
IPO:

25/8/2004, NASDAQ:GOOG

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of…

Learn more

Baidu Looks To Leapfrog Google With Cloud-Based Mobile OS (Update)

baidu_logo

Chinese search giant Baidu is reportedly developing a cloud-based smartphone platform in attempt to dip its toes into the mobile pool. Mobile internet users in China totaled 233 million in 2010, projected to reach 957 million by 2014. For some perspective, the total population of both the European Union and the United States was approximately 800 million last year. So in China, mobile is less of a pool and more of a vast ocean.

This should be interesting.

The company is calling its platform Baidu Yi, which translates to “Easy.” Similar to the Bing integration in Mango, this OS is all about search. Smartphones that run Yi will load up a search box within seconds of turning on the phone. Other components will load in the background, but users will be able to perform a web search almost instantly. The system will also offer up to 180 GB of cloud storage space. Sounds nice — but so did webOS. Will Baidu Yi fare better?

Baidu isn’t the only Chinese company looking to get in on the OS game. Local players like Hangzhou-based Alibaba and Shenzhen-based Huawei have announced similar cloud-based platforms recently, but as far as local competition is concerned, Baidu seems unfazed. “To us, cloud computing is much more natural than to an e-commerce company or a telecom equipment maker because we have the capability to handle data, just as Google has, that’s why they’re so good at it,” said Baidu VP Wang Jing to the Financial Times.

Baidu certainly has taken a page out of the Google playbook. But just one. The current version of Yi is based on Android, but the Android you’d see in China isn’t our Android. In most cases (not Baidu’s), it’s called Ophone, a fork of Android, and it effectively removes Google from the picture. The core Android operating system is made up of a Linux kernel, licensed under GPL, with Apache middleware and user stacks. Major components of the upper layers, such as the Android Market, are Google’s to license. Chinese carriers gladly do without those core Google software products and opt to integrate their own or third-party replacements.

In other words, Android’s success in China is a bit hollow, even if it is the basis for Ophone, and now Baidu Yi. What’s more, Mr. Wang mentioned that “it is possible that we [will] launch our own operating system in the future.” Google already has big problems in China, and Android getting left behind entirely (rather than marginally) by its biggest Chinese competitor would only make things worse.

But how does Mr. Wang feel about our other hometown hero — Apple. The company has already tapped China Unicom’s 200,000 subscribers, and reportedly has plans to launch the iPhone with China Mobile, which has a user base topping 600,000. Apple only has four (non-fake) Apple stores in the country, but China is its fastest growing market in terms of sales. With those stats, it hardly seems as though Baidu Yi poses a threat.

But nothing is ever as it seems. China is both an irresistible and incredibly dangerous market for American tech companies, and Apple faces a number of obstacles within the market. For one, the Chinese government requires special wireless internet technology (TD-SCDMA) on its mobile phones. And then there’s the massive black/grey market in China for iPhones and iPads.

Baidu’s co-founder and CEO seemed to know back in March that Apple would be one of its main competitors in the mobile space. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr. Li made mention of the new OS as compared to iOS.

“Right now when you power on an iPhone, it takes 45 seconds before you can do anything,” he said. “In the future, one second, you turn on the device, and you can start using the box. That’s our mission for the future of the internet.” His plan is to build an OS that uses search as the basis for everything. “The goal is to let people become increasingly dependent on the Baidu Box.”

And that’s all we really need: to be even more dependent on our smartphones. Good work, Baidu.

Update: So it would seem that Baidu Yi has gone live. The OS features include an eBooks app called Yue, a Google-places style app called Shen Bian, Baidu-powered maps, and a music app called Ting. Check out the video after the jump to see Baidu Yi in action.

[Image credit: The Register]

[Video credit: MicGadget]


Company:
BAIDU
Launch Date:
11/10/1999
IPO:

5/8/2005, NASDAQ:BIDU

Baidu is the largest Chinese language search engines. Baidu’s mission is to provide the best way for people to find information online, including Chinese language web pages, news, images…

Learn more


Company:
APPLE
Launch Date:
1/4/1976
IPO:

1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer,…

Learn more


Company:
GOOGLE
Launch Date:
7/9/1998
IPO:

25/8/2004, NASDAQ:GOOG

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of…

Learn more

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