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  • Google's CFO just denied it's ditching Google Fiber, saying the unit is still 'very active' (GOOG)

    Google Fiber

    Google isn't getting out of the internet service provider business anytime soon. 

    That's according to CFO Ruth Porat, who reaffirmed the company's commitment to Google Fiber, its high speed internet cable company. News broke on Tuesday that Google was halting expansion plans and laying off 9% of its staff.

    Here's what Porat had to say about the future of Fiber during the company's quarterly earnings call on Thursday:

    "We are very active in a lot of cities. In the third quarter alone, we rolled out four new cities, so that brings us to 12 cities across the US where we're deployed, in construction or in development. We're making great progress in those cities and we remain committed to growth in those cities. We also have a presence in six cities with our wireless acquisition, Webpass. We're pausing for now in our work in eight cities where we've been in exploratory discussions but...it's to better integrate some of our technology work that we've been developing."

    Porat said the company scaled back its growth to focus on new technologies that would improve effectiveness and efficiency. Google wanted to focus on those efforts before continuing with work in the eight new cities, Porat said. 

    In 2010, Google Fiber began offering Gigabit-speed internet access to residents in Kansas City, and began expanding to other cities soon after. But the project soon proved expensive and got caught up in numerous regulatory challenges. 

    SEE ALSO: Google Fiber's CEO is stepping down and the company is halting plans to offer service in several cities

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  • Google earnings top targets and the company will buy back $7 billion of stock (GOOG, GOOGL)

    Sundar Pichai Google event Pixel 2016

    Google's mobile and video ad businesses helped it topped Wall Street financial targets in the third quarter and the company authorized a new, $7 billion stock repurchase. 

    Google’s stock barely budged in after hours trading, rising about 1% despite the strong results.

    Here are the key numbers:

    Net Revenue$18.3 billion net revenue versus analyst expectations of $18 billion, up 21% year over year

    EPS (adjusted): $9.06 versus analyst expectations of $8.64 per share

    Other Bets revenue: $197 million, up from $141 million in the year-ago period.

    Other Bets Operating Loss: $840 million, versus $980 million last year.

    The so-called Other Bets, which include everything from smart home device company Nest to the high-speed Fiber service, have been under the spotlight in recent months amid a string of executive departures and limited revenue contribution. 

    On Tuesday, Google Fiber, the high-speed internet access service, halted plans to expand to several cities and said it was laying off 9% of its staff.

    Google CFO Ruth Porat told investors during a conference call that the company was not abandoning the high-speed internet business entirely, and referred to new wireless technologies as a more important focus going forward.

    And she defeneded the Alphabet corporate structure that was created in the summer of 2015. 

    "As we reach for moonshots that will have a big impact in the longer term it’s inevitable that there will be course corrections along the way and that some efforts will be more succesful than others," Porat said. 

    In any case, the real engine of the Alphabet parent company is Google. And Google's online  ad business continued to thrive during the third quarter, thanks to the luctative video ads on the Google-owned YouTube site as well as the mobile ads Google displays on smartphones.  

    Revenue on Google's own family of websites rose 24% in Q3. 

    But Porat warned that the fees Google pays to mobile partners are higher than for its traditional online adveritsing business, cutting into profit margins. 

    New gadgets

    Google's expenses are also like to rise as it spends money to advertise the new crop of hardware devices, such as the recently released Pixel phone and the upcoming Home speaker.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai did not provide any details about sales of the Pixel, or revenue expectations for the hardware business, but noted that he was pleased with the consumer reception of the Pixel so far. 

    The so-called "other revenue" category that includes Google's hardware sales, as well as revenue from the Googel Cloud business and from the Play store, increased 39% year-on-year to $2.4 billion in Q3.

    Alphabet's stock reached an all-time high earlier this week after favorable reviews of its new Pixel phone. 


    With more than $80 billion in cash and sercurities now on its balance sheet, Google announced its second ever stock buyback on Thursday. 

    The $7 billion buyback is larger than he $5 billion buyback the company announced last year, and Google said the stock purchases would take place on both the open market and through privately negotiated transactions. 

    Google headcount increased by 3,378 in last three months to 69,953 employees.

    Two of the more important numbers Google reports each quarter are cost per click — how much Google can charge for its ads  — and paid clicks, how many times people click those ads. In the third quarter, aggregate paid clicks were up 33% versus an expected 26% — a 9% change from a year ago — and cost per click was down 11% versus an expected 4.8%. The decline in CPC was consistent with Q3 2015. 


    SEE ALSO: Google Fiber's CEO is stepping down and the company is halting plans to offer service in several cities

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Google just debuted the Google Home speaker — its answer to the Amazon Echo

  • Google Maps just made ordering food even easier

    women eating pizzaOrdering food online can be a pain. What site to go to: Seamless, GrubHub, or Doordash? Which restaurant is close by? And what's even open at this time of night?

    Luckily, Google Maps is trying to make the process of staving off hunger a little bit easier by simplifying the way we search for delivery options. In the latest update — version 10.24.0, which rolled out this week — the iOS app has integrated third-party delivery services into a restaurant's Maps information.

    Although availability is limited based on country, services like Seamless, Doordash, Eat24, Delivery.com, Chownow, and GrubHub are all now (at least in certain areas) automatically connected based on what the restaurant uses. So instead of funneling an order through a food app first, you can instead search for your next meal based on location or venue of choice. And if you're not sure where to order from to begin with, the update also enables you to explore your area for restaurants that fall into specific categories, like "Where the locals eat" or "Business dining."

    Other updates include the ability to drop a pin anywhere in the world and find a plus code (which is like a longitude/latitude reading), and a streamlined approach to taking and adding photos of places within the app. You can download the update from the iTunes Store.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The ‘Apple of China’ just unveiled a phone that’s more powerful and better looking than the iPhone

  • Google is splitting its search index in two — and there will be winners and losers (GOOG)

    sundar pichai

    Google is dividing its index — the almost infinite database of websites it stores for search — into separate mobile and desktop versions

    There will be winners and losers in this process. Counter-intuitively, publishers with mobile sites designed specifically to make life easier for smartphone users may suffer. The stripped-down level of content on their mobile sites will offer fewer targets for Google's searches to hit, and may lead to them ranking lower in search results on phones. 

    Thus the new index split will incentivise publishers to offer richer, better pages on mobile, as Google is prioritising the mobile index over the desktop one, especially for smartphone users — which is where a majority of searches now takes place.

    The change will happen within months, Google's webmaster trend analyst Gary Illyes told Search Engine Land

    Google regularly makes changes to its index, but this is a particularly big one. The mobile index will be the "primary" index and will be kept more up-to-date than the desktop index. This means that — for the same search — the results you see on a smartphone will be different to what you see on a desktop. 

    Jennifer Slegg, founder of search expert site The SEM Post and Lisa Barone, CMO of web design agency Overit — attended the Pubcon conference where Google announced the change in the keynote address. They explained to Business Insider exactly how they expect the change to impact search results. 

    Google wants users to stop users having an inferior search experience on a smartphone. By prioritising the mobile index, the search giant is effectively asking site owners to stop simplifying their mobile sites.

    Right now Google only lists desktop sites in its index

    Up until now, Google has only listed desktop websites in its index. As explained by Overit's Janae Quackenbus, who also attended the conference, "Google has historically 'crawled' the desktop version of a site". Crawling is a term used to describe the process of Google visiting websites to then file them away in its index. 

    So when you search on a smartphone, Google returns your result as if you are on a desktop, even though what it shows you — and what you click on — is a list of mobile sites. 

    That wouldn't be a problem if the content on a mobile site was exactly the same as the content on the desktop site. But in a lot of cases, it's not. 

    In the effort to make their websites load quicker on a mobile (which Google said does not work), a lot of site owners "strip down" the amount of content on their mobile site by removing words and pages. A simplified site — usually with the format "m.example.com" like this one from IMDb —  is an example. 


    Google doesn't want site owners to strip down their sites for mobile, and that's the crux of why the change is happening. 

    Google is targeting 'stripped down' mobile websites

    After Google splits its index, when you search on a smartphone, the search engine won't refer to the "full" desktop site when determining what results to give you. Instead, it will refer to the stripped down mobile site in a separate mobile index. With less content, a stripped down mobile site will show up in fewer search results. 

    Not all websites have stripped down their mobile sites, and therefore they won't be affected. If a website has a responsive design — where the content is the same but it loads to fit the screen size of each device — the index split should not have any impact at all.

    The move makes sense when you consider that mobile is the dominant choice over desktop for search. And it's not just search — 61% of online retail sales came from mobile devices in the UK in the first half of 2016, according to Criteo’s State of Mobile Commerce Report

    As Barone said to Business Insider, "Google’s shift to prioritize mobile over desktop follows user behavior to do the very same. Mobile devices are no longer secondary devices; they are the primary device". 

    RBC analyst Mark Mahaney told Business Insider, "I think the broad point is that we are multiple years now into the 'Mobile Revolution'. Consumers are increasingly comfortable using their Smartphones to access/use Internet services and apps as they used to do with their desktops ... marketers are catching up with consumers and Google is making it easier for them to do that with initiatives like splitting its Search index". 

    Disclosure: This author used to be an employee at Google and currently owns Alphabet stock. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Guardian CEO David Pemsel tells us how much damage Google and Facebook are doing to the news business

    David Pemsell

    David Pemsel is more than a year into his job as chief executive of the Guardian Media Group. A sharply dressed former marketer, he is walking Business Insider through his three-year plan to take the newspaper group from perilous loss maker to thrifty innovator.

    But Pemsel, who joined The Guardian as chief marketing officer in 2011, is agitated about something. For just a moment, his relaxed tone pinches with tension and, against the wishes of his corporate communications chief, he fixes Google in his glare. The US technology giant has just poached two of The Guardian’s product development team and Pemsel wants to vent.

    "Where we have good relationships with them [Google]. Where we genuinely partner and innovate, great things happen. At the same time, there’s a huge impact on our business model and, also, at times, there’s an impact on our ability to retain talent," he says. "In the last two weeks we’ve lost two very good product people to Google and that just makes the dynamic of the relationship with them that much harder."

    Pemsel says his views on Google, or indeed Facebook for that matter, depends on "what day of the week it is." Today, he is wound up. "Just a bit," he nods. This is excellent news for me. In his first big interview since being promoted, his disquiet translates into a fulsome and honest appraisal of The Guardian’s relationship with these two internet monoliths.

    Why Google and Facebook are all take and no give

    Putting staff poaching to one side, we focus on Pemsel’s biggest gripe with Google and Facebook: The impact they have had on The Guardian’s digital advertising revenue.

    Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said the tech giants sucked up £20 million ($24 million) of the newspaper's online earnings last year. Pemsel says he's "not entirely sure" where Rusbridger got this figure from, but the facts are this: The Guardian's digital turnover fell 2.3% to £81.9 million ($100 million) in the 12 months to April 2016.

    Enders Analysis chief executive Douglas McCabe said at the time that this was "truly unexpected." It contributed to The Guardian's total revenues falling 3.7% to £209.5 million ($256 million).

    On the day our interview with Pemsel was published, Politico reported that The Guardian may have to "slash costs by more than 60% to survive." It added that the company has "burned through another £48 million ($59 million) in cash" since April this year.

    "The ad model is as broken as it’s ever been," Pemsel told us. "All programmatic trading has reduced yield, it does not value context, and it has allowed a very efficient approach to targeting. This has meant that Google and Facebook have been able to hoover up a huge amount of digital ad spend."

    The former ITV executive says The Guardian is "clearly being hurt" by the market changes, but believes there is no point complaining this is "unfair." What Pemsel is doing, however, is reevaluating the newspaper's relationship with Google and Facebook.

    google"You’ve got the erosive part of those two organisations ... but at the same time we have partnerships with those two organisations, which is intended to create innovative new thinking to be able to respond to that [challenge], and we sometimes struggle to work out the benefits of that," he said.

    The Guardian, for example, is a Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and Facebook Instant Articles partner. But Pemsel says it is "hard to dissect" the contribution these initiatives make to its bottom line.

    "This is serious stuff now, and spending time with all platforms is a serious part of our job, but we’ve got to be a bit more focused about what it actually delivers," he explains.

    Are the Google and Facebook partnerships all take and no give? "I think it is," Pemsel says carefully, but he stops short of threatening divorce. He also makes clear that there is not a "deliberate intention to undermine our impact on the world" and points to genuine collaborations, such as the virtual reality projects it is creating for Google Cardboard.

    One thing that would make a big difference is data. This is nothing new, of course, and Google and Facebook are traditionally reluctant to hand over user information to publishers. Pemsel is not giving up hope: "I don’t think we’d resign ever to any battle."

    The Guardian's "anonymous-to-known" reader strategy

    The Google/Facebook issues matter so much to Pemsel because it goes right to the heart of his and editor Katharine Viner's three-year vision for The Guardian. Big traffic is no longer the only game in town — The Guardian wants to get to know its readers better than ever before.

    Pemsel calls this the "anonymous-to-known" strategy and it is a fixture of our hour-long conversation. "Understanding the behaviour of regular readers and knowing more about them constitutes probably the single defining metric for the business," he explains.

    The Guardian is building up a picture of regular readers through analysing cookie behaviour and first-party data. The newspaper is also ramping up its membership strategy, which encourages readers to make a monthly donation in return for a number of benefits.

    Readers can sign up to three different tiers, the most expensive of which (£60/$73 a month) allows "patrons" access to events and, soon, the platform to suggest pieces for The Guardian's year in review book Bedside Guardian. The combination of these initiatives is unlocking revenue and helping readers feel closer to the paper they love, Pemsel explains.

    He says regular reader numbers are up 30% on last year, although he won't divulge a regular user number. This, he adds, is allowing The Guardian to have more meaningful conversations with advertisers and is turning the newspaper into a "platform for action." One example was a deal with SEAT, where The Guardian took data on how many people engaged with the car maker's adverts and converted them into test drives.

    Guardian 2015 Redesign"We need to make sure we have more data on our readers in order to be able to drive further reader revenue, or to be able to show positive impact for our clients when they invest with us. Walking into an agency or a client and saying we’re big is just not good enough," Pemsel says.

    It is why he prefers to focus on the fact that The Guardian has 75,000 members, rather than April's record traffic figure of 155 million unique browsers. Pemsel forecasts that members will swell to 100,000 by the end of the year.

    Pemsel says membership is being signposted through articles including Gary Younge’s series of US election despatches from the town of Muncie, Indiana. He says readers have been invited "into the process of storytelling," suggesting issues Younge could explore. "This is the definition of an organisation genuinely understanding it’s relationship with its readers," he adds.

    Members won’t get exclusive content, however. Pemsel views this as a step towards a paywall, which is not on the agenda — for now. "We don’t rule out paywalls and metered paywalls — we don’t ever rule those things out. At the moment, however, that is not within our three-year plan," he explains.

    We don’t rule out paywalls and metred paywalls — we don’t ever rule those things out. At the moment, however, that is not within our three-year plan."

    The "unvarnished truths" about The Guardian's future

    Nevertheless, The Guardian plans to secure a third of its revenue from sources other than advertising and sales by April 2019. This is critical to the company’s ambition of breaking even at an operating level in the same year. It’s a £79.8 million ($211 million) shortfall that has to be closed and, alongside the growth plan, Pemsel has been busy stripping 20% out of business costs.

    He described it as the "unvarnished truths" when he set out the efficiency plans to staff in January. It has resulted in 270 staff taking voluntary redundancy and Pemsel introducing a new objectives and key results (OKR) process across the business. Going the way of The Independent and shutting down the printing presses is not on the agenda for now, but Pemsel does say The Guardian is "transitioning out of print" in the long-term.

    The OKR method was, ironically, borrowed from Google. It involves Pemsel and Viner agreeing the company's key objectives every three months. Sources have told Business Insider that the relationship between the pair is functioning better than any previous Guardian chief executive and editor.

    Guardian chairman Neil Berkett last year praised the "outstanding partnership" between Pemsel's predecessor Andrew Miller and Rusbridger, but Pemsel admits that it has been historically "quite difficult" for The Guardian chief executive and editor to agree on a single vision for the company. Its constitution states that commercial is always "one step behind" editorial, but this has changed.

    katharine viner"You can’t have agile thinking if you don’t have unity at the top of the organisation, it’s just impossible," he adds. "If Kath and I did not step in and talk about what we wanted to achieve over the next three years, given our cash burn, we were in a perilous state."

    The Guardian is owned by charity the Scott Trust, which was established in 1936 to support the newspaper's independent journalism. The Scott Trust's cash pile fell nearly 9% to £765 million ($935 million) in the 12 months to April 2016, leading to predictions that The Guardian could go bust in under a decade if its losses are not stemmed.

    Enders Analysis boss McCabe said in July the only way The Guardian can hit its break-even target is to "take the costs down significantly more." Pemsel says the goal is "achievable," but will require vigilance. "You can’t rule out looking at the cost base again," he adds.

    But Pemsel doesn't want to be the chief executive that "only talks to the cost base." Innovation has to part of the narrative. "There’s that amazing quote that to win, you need to be experimenting faster than the competition," he says.

    It explains why he is so grumpy with Google for poaching his staff. But more than this, it's a recognition that The Guardian will have outsmart these tech giants if it is to claw back lost revenue.

    "The change in our business is unrelenting," Pemsel says. "To face up to some of the challenges that all news organisations are having, particularly The Guardian and what it needed to do, has frankly been a joy because you’re doing it in partnership with editorial. It’s been a good year."

    Spoken with a marketing man's optimism, securing the future of The Guardian will be his toughest sell yet.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • A Google mystery: The names and bios of the company’s top execs are no longer listed on its website (GOOG, GOOGL)

    Larry Page

    If you're curious to know who's running the show over at Google and the other Alphabet companies, good luck: Alphabet no longer lists it senior management team on its website.

    The names of the company's top executives, their headshots, their bios, or any other information that shows who's who inside the various Alphabet subsidiary companies have vanished from the company's website. And it looks like it's been that way for a few months now.

    There's an old photo of Larry Page and Sergey Brin on the company overview page, but it doesn't list their current titles (Page is the CEO of Alphabet), referring to the pair simply as the founders of Google who met at Stanford back in 1995.

    It's unusual for a major public company not to post such basic information online, and Google is the only company of its ilk that doesn't display its senior management — Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple all list their execs publicly.

    According to a person familiar with the matter, the management bio page is undergoing a redesign. 

    But there's no word on when the redesigned page will go up. And the previous management page appears to have been taken offline several months ago, based on searches for cached versions of the page kept by the internet archive.


    If you needed to know who oversees financial maters for parent company Alphabet (Ruth Porat), or know who the CEO of the core Google internet business is (Sundar Pichai), or if you wanted to get a sense of who is leading businesses like smart home appliance maker Nest, the company's investor relations page won't be of much help.

    Right now, the company's management page just takes you to an Error 404 page:

    Screen Shot 2016 10 26 at 2.43.29 PM

    Google and Alphabet have long been criticized by investors for a lack of transparency about the business —  the company still does not disclose financial information about key products, such as YouTube and Android. And Google angered Wall Street for a period of several years by eliminating the customary annual briefings with analysts and investors.

    When CFO Ruth Porat joined Google in May 2015, she promised that the company would become more transparent. Soon after, she created 15-30 minute "office hours" where analysts could talk with Google's investor relations team. 

    Improving investor transparency was also part of the reason Google reorganized as Alphabet last year. The shake-up happened with the idea that it would allow all of its businesses to operate more effectively and efficiently, a move the company was said to be considering for four years

    It's not clear why Google decided to take its executive page offline, or when it'll be back up. But after a mini exodus of some of Google's top talent in the past few months, it may look a lot different when it's back online. 

    SEE ALSO: Here are all the companies and divisions within Alphabet, Google's parent company

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  • You can now order food through Google Maps (GOOG)

    Google Maps Food OrderThis story was delivered to BI Intelligence "E-Commerce Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

    An update to the Google Maps mobile app has brought the capability to place orders with an on-demand meal delivery service from local restaurants, reports 9to5Mac.

    If consumers search for a restaurant on Google Maps that works with a partnered delivery service, like Grubhub, they will see a new "Place an order" option in the establishment's description. This could prove to be a significant boon for on-demand meal delivery services by raising visibility among Google Maps' over 1 billion users.

    The ordering capability within Google Maps can help boost order volume for on-demand meal delivery services. As of 2015, about $210 billion worth of food is ordered for delivery or takeout on an annual basis in the US, according to Morgan Stanley Research. Just $11 billion of that is online delivery, and within that subsection, nonpizza online deliveries are worth just $4 billion in annual order volume. This means that the market is underpenetrated but massive.

    The Google Maps update can help drive up orders by pushing its massive user base toward on-demand services. Moreover, the tool brings a heightened convenience that can increase engagement among existing users, while also potentially attracting new ones. The feature is limited by availability, but considering the presence of numerous on-demand meal delivery services in major populous cities, these types of companies could see an influx in orders and active users.

    Driving up traffic to these sites is vital as meal delivery funding declines. Funding for meal delivery companies is expected to drop severely in 2016. Meal delivery startups around the world raised nearly $4 billion in funding in 2015, according to CB Insights. But this total is expected to reach only $918 million by the end of this year.

    This deceleration in funding is likely due to increasing market saturation as new entrants attempt to gain a share of this highly valuable market. As investors become more selective, Google Maps could prove to be a vital tool for existing players that are looking to boost performance and prove their worth to venture capital firms.

    Pizza chains have long dominated meal delivery, but digital platforms are now enabling the entire restaurant industry to plug into online delivery. In the dominant on-demand meal delivery model, platforms like Grubhub serve as a middleman that connect people to food using the scalability of the internet.

    Although some industry leaders are processing hundreds of millions, even billions, in annual food sales volume already, they're a drop in the bucket in terms of the total addressable market (TAM) for food delivery, which is valued at $210 billion, according to Morgan Stanley Research estimates.

    Companies are adopting diverse business models in the market to deliver these meals; some, like Postmates, are focused on the logistics of delivering food, while end-to-end providers like Sprig cook, facilitate ordering, and deliver the food themselves. Ultimately, order-focused platforms like Grubhub/Seamless and Eat24 appear to hold the strongest positions in the market. The former controlled an estimated 59% of total order volume in 2015, while Eat24 held an estimated 7% share. Moreover, Grubhub/Seamless could pose a threat to the logistics companies DoorDash and Postmates if it pushes further into proprietary delivery services, especially in markets its competitors haven't expanded to yet.

    Despite varying advantages and disadvantages, all stakeholders will have to navigate some challenges in the market, including cooling deal volume, consumer resistance to delivery fees, potential industry consolidation, and downward pressure on take rates, which measure the revenue a company actually earns out of the volume they process.

    Evan Bakker, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report for on-demand meal delivery that sizes the market for on-demand meal delivery, outlines the main business models, assesses which key players are in the best and worst position in the market, and also analyzes the underlying risks that all stakeholders will have to navigate.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • There is a massive unfulfilled market opportunity. As of 2015, about $210 billion worth of food is ordered for delivery or takeout on an annual basis in the US, according to Morgan Stanley Research. But two of the industry leaders, Grubhub/Seamless and Eat24, generated a combined $2.6 billion in food sales last year. This means the market is underpenetrated but massive, which will incentivize continued competition and, potentially, an influx of new entrants. 
    • There are three main business models that companies adopt. The dominant business model so far has been platform aggregators whose primary function is to support online orders. These include Grubhub/Seamless and Eat24, which control a combined 66% share of the market so far. Other models include delivery-focused logistics models and full-service models in which companies cook the food themselves. 
    • There are a number of risks that all players in the ecosystem will have to navigate. SpoonRocket, a once promising full-service delivery provider, shut down earlier this year in the face of insufficient capital and intensified competition. This, along with cooling deal volume, could signal upcoming consolidation in the industry. Other risk factors include consumer resistance to delivery fees and lowering take rates, which measure the revenue a company actually earns out of the volume they process. 

    In full, the report:

    • Overviews the on-demand meal delivery market and quantifies the opportunity for expansion. 
    • Explains the three main business models meal delivery companies adopt.
    • Runs through the main competitors in the market and assesses which are in the best position to succeed.
    • Identifies the underlying market risks and how they might disproportionately affect certain types of competitors.

    To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose from one of the following options:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

    The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of on-demand meal delivery.

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  • Everything you need to know about Google’s new travel planner

    relax phone girl pool summer

    Ever wish you could get an idea for your next vacation and book it—under budget—in just one click? Do you often find yourself searching keywords like "Google Travel" and "Google Planner"? At long last, the search giant has launched a mobile-only search tool called Destinations on Google that functions like a digitized travel agent: fast, comprehensive, and scary intuitive.

    It'll help you narrow down where (and when) to travel, combine multiple destinations into dream itineraries, and let you set parameters on cost to keep you in line.

    And it'll do it all within a single browser tab. Here's how it works.

    Plane view

    Step 1: Toggle Google's Trip Planner With the Right Search Term

    Next time you open Google on your phone, try a search term like "Caribbean destinations" or "Europe destinations" — using the word "destinations" is what will pull up the new feature.

    You'll get a series of information cards on various cities, presented in order of popularity (as determined by search volume and location data).On the information cards for each destination, you'll find the cheapest week of the year to travel and the average price of flights from your current location, along with the average cost of a three-star hotel. It's officially the best new way to get a sense of what it'll cost to go where.

    Step 2: Find Your Dream Trip

    There's a small menu in Grey type above the destination cards that allows you to filter by desired travel dates, budget, or in some cases, interest.

    Select "architecture" instead of "hiking," for instance, and your suggested European destinations will shift from Majorca and Mount Etna to Amsterdam and Madrid. (Food is notably missing from the “interests” list.) Click a specific month of the year and the cards will show you the most affordable week to travel within your time frame; selecting a budget of just $1000 for seven nights might rule out pricey cities like Paris or London.

    Step 3: Learn more about a place, or go ahead and book.

    Tulum, Mexico

    Once you've decided on a destination, you have two options: you can "explore" to learn more about the local highlights, or "plan a trip," which simply means selecting your dates, flights, and hotel.

    In Explore mode, the most useful feature is a section of recommended itineraries, based on where travelers actually go (and in what order) — Google can figure that out by looking at anonymized location data — as well as popular search combinations. In Barcelona, for instance, Google recommends an itinerary called “Top Sights in the Eixample District,” stringing together main squares, key architectural sites, and urban gardens; it also provides walking times between each point of interest, courtesy of Google Maps.

    But "Plan A Trip" is where Google's breadth of data really shines. Here, an algorithm calculates your total trip cost, adjusting the dollar amount instantly as you toggle through calendar options. It also adjusts flight options seamlessly, presenting three or four optimal itineraries up top and the rest sorted by price. And it sorts hotel choices based on your star preferences, showing you only what's bookable for your desired travel dates.

    Just like that, you've conceived and booked your entire trip: in no more than three steps.

    But is it really that easy?

    Studies have shown that travelers visit upwards of 38 sites when planning a trip, and Destinations on Google will help cut down the research tremendously. Will you be so impulsive as to research and book a trip — on your phone — in one sitting? We think it’s a stretch. But it’s not impossible, and this tool certainly makes it more plausible.

    Even if consumer patterns keep shifting towards mobile, we did find a few other limitations. When searching for Caribbean Destinations, for example, we only got four hits—and they weren’t sortable by interest. It’s the only region that didn’t turn up spot-on results, but it’s a big missed opportunity—not only is that part of the world a popular choice for American travelers, but its destinations can be difficult to differentiate from one another. It’s one of several examples that prove the limitations of data-based computing: Google is all about data, but data will never make it a true travel expert.

    Much to that point, the itineraries and activity suggestions are also based on search volume — that means you’re getting the most obvious choices in each city (the Acropolis in Athens, the Empire State Building in New York City, and so on). For an overview, it’s great, but for savvy travelers, it’s expected. And forget about booking excursions via this platform—Google’s intent is to keep you within their ecosystem as much as possible, and the company doesn’t have a platform for selling activities…  yet. So for that, you’ll have to head elsewhere.

    Our last complaint: the budget filter, one of the most useful features of the tool, is overwhelmingly rigid. It’s impossible to change the length of trip from the standard one-week option, which makes it impossible to use it to plan impulsive weekend getaways—something you’d more readily tackle on a smartphone screen.

    The Bottom Line

    More than anything else, Destinations on Google is best for figuring out where you want to go.

    The ability to scan destinations based on real-time pricing data, input your budget parameters, and sort by interests offers an unparalleled source for realistic and actionable trip ideas. And at another juncture in your process, you may end up booking your flights and rooms on Google’s Flight and Hotel search tools. They really are quite powerful and successful on their own. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to take steps in between—whether that means comparison shopping, itinerary mapping, or simply digging deeper than Google’s top search results.

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  • Apple and Google are failing to capitalise on Samsung's Note 7 fiasco due to a lack of phones (AAPL, GOOG)

    Apple iPhone 7 launch London

    A supply shortage has meant Apple and Google haven't been able to take advantage of Samsung's exploding phone nightmare, according to a report in The Financial Times.

    Two weeks ago, Samsung was left with little choice but to recall millions of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 devices after a battery issue caused a number of handsets to catch fire, therefore deeming all of the devices unsafe.

    The ongoing escapade has tarnished Samsung's image and left many Note 7 owners considering whether or not they should buy a new handset from a different company, such as Apple and Google.

    But those two particular US tech giants have missed an opportunity to fill "the void in the mobile market left by Samsung’s withdrawal of its Galaxy Note 7" according to the FT.

    Apple announced in its Q4 earnings on Tuesday that demand for the iPhone 7 Plus — considered to be Apple's closest competitor to the Galaxy Note 7 — surpassed its expectations. The current wait time for an iPhone 7 Plus on Apple's website is being shown as eight weeks.

    "Particularly on iPhone 7 Plus, we are significantly supply constrained," said Luca Maestri, Apple’s finance chief, according to the FT. "The demand [for Jet Black iPhones] has been significantly stronger than our original expectations … We are selling everything that we can produce.

    "As we get into the December quarter, we are not in supply-demand balance so it is very difficult to tell what impact this Samsung issue will have on us," Maestri said. Probably that is something that will become clearer as we go through the year."

    google pixel colorsTech publications like Trusted Reviews have also hailed Google's new Pixel devices, which cost upwards of $650 (£532), as possible replacements for the Galaxy Note 7. But Google is also experiencing supply shortages that are preventing it from acquiring unhappy Samsung customers.

    "We’re thrilled to see the excitement for our new Pixel phones, and frankly pre-order demand has exceeded our expectations,” a Google representative told The Financial Times. "We’re working to restock our inventory as soon as possible."

    Meanwhile, Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi has also released a new high-end phone as it looks to snap up some of those disgruntled Samsung phone owners.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Google Fiber's CEO is stepping down and the company is halting plans to offer service in several cities (GOOG, GOOGL)

    Google Fiber

    Google's ambitious plan to spread high-speed internet service across the US has hit a bump in the road as the group leading the charge scales back its operations and is roiled by a management shake up. 

    Craig Barratt, the head of Google Access, is stepping down and the company is freezing plans to roll out the high-speed Google Fiber broadband service to 8 new cities, company announced on Tuesday.

    Access, which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet, will lay off about 9% of its staff, or between 100 and 200 employees, as part of the change, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. 

    The move marks a significant setback for one of parent company Alpahbet's most high-profile and ambitious projects. And it represents the latest sign of turmoil among Alphabet's collection of subsidiary companies, coming on the heels of CEO exits at Nest and Google's Project Wing drone group.

    The change is likely to raise questions about Alphabet's committment to the diverse money-losing projects under its roof, particularly ahead of the company's quarterly earnings report on Thursday.

    In an emailed statement to Business Insider, Alphabet CEO Larry Page said the company was not abandoning its role in the internet service business.

    "I'm excited about the potential of providing super fast internet to more people. Craig has worked hard to scale this business, and I look forward to continue working with him in his new role as an Advisor," Page said.

    Barratt, a former CEO of wireless chip company Atheros who joined Google in 2013, will stay at Google parent Alphabet as an advisor. Google has tapped a trio of Access executives, including longserving Access member Milo Medin, to lead the group on an interim basis while it looks for a replacement for Barratt.

    Goodbye Los Angeles

    Google said it will continue to offer its Fiber service in cities where it has launched, but it has pulled the plug on plans to expand to Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon and a handful of other cities.

    "For most of our “potential Fiber cities” — those where we’ve been in exploratory discussions — we’re going to pause our operations and offices while we refine our approaches,"  Barratt said in a blog post announcing the news.

    "In this handful of cities that are still in an exploratory stage, and in certain related areas of our supporting operations, we’ll be reducing our employee base," he said.

    The layoffs will primarily involve workers involved in the deployment of Google Fiber in the new cities, the person familiar with the matter said.

    Going wireless

    Google Fiber started offering Gigabit speed internet access to Kansas City residents in 2010, expanding the service to a handful of other cities aftewards.

    Craig BarrattBut the effort, which involves digging up streets and gettting access rights to utility poles, is extremely costly and subject to a thicket of regulatory and competitive challenges

    Google Fiber is among the most capital intensive of Alphabet's so-called Other Bet companies. In the second quarter, the Other Bets lost a combined  $859 million on revenue of $185 million.

    Over the past year or so, Access has increasingly turned its sights to wireless technology as an alternative means of delivering high speed access to consumers, particuarly with the June acquisition of Webpass.

    According to the person familiar with the matter, the Access group is halting Fiber rollout plans in the new cities because it has decided to refocus the service on wireless, which is ultimately a much faster way to roll out internet service across cities.

    As Business Insider has previously reported, the company is currently working on various wireless technologies that can best serve the differing environments and landscapes of various cities. 

    SEE ALSO: Apple shares sink on first annual drop in revenue since 2001

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