In the news this week: Alibaba IPO finds success on New York Stock Exchange; Google Maps Navigation now available in 104 countries; AdWords upgraded with local inventory adverts in five new markets; China blocks privacy focussed search engine; and Made.com declares Scottish independence.
Alibaba’s much hyped debut on the New York Stock Exchange went smoothly this week, with the first day of trading pushing shares 38% above their Initial Public Offering (IPO) of $68 USD by the day’s end ($93.89). The BBC reports the raising of $25bn total, and notes that with the ecommerce giant valued at around $223bn, it is now worth more than Facebook, or Amazon and Ebay combined.
Fuelled by significant interest from a diverse set of international investors, the numbers add up to the largest IPO in history – the previous record holder being China Agricultural Bank Ltd., which raised $22.1bn in 2010. CNN, meanwhile, pointed to Baidu as a safer investment.
Google’s free navigation app, Google Maps Navigation, has extended service to 19 new countries, bringing the total number of nations served up to 104. The newcomers are distributed across Africa, South America and the Caribbean.
The app is available on Android and iOS, initially launching only on the former platform back in October 2009, in the United States alone. An early entry in the navigation-app space, and a function of the main Google Maps app, Searchengineland.com notes its 46.2% reach and identifies it as the fifth most popular mobile app in the US. Only recently, with the creation of Apple’s own Apple Maps app has the monopoly been challenged. By comparison, Apple’s turn-by-turn navigation is only available in 54 countries at present.
Local inventory ads, a feature of US-based Google search since last October, have finally come to five new markets: the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia. The feature allows brands to feed Google inventory information with the goal of improving local search. So, if a user searches for a specific product, it is possible to pay to get in front of them with stores local to them where stock is currently available.
The feature is available across mobile and desktop search. Google notes that the feature may be particularly potent for last-minute gift searches – directing users to purchase on the high street rather than chancing late delivery during major gift-buying periods.
Privacy focussed search-engine, DuckDuckGo, has been blocked in China. Built to specifically reject the data-driven personalisation features key to Google, Bing and other mainstream search engines, DuckDuckGo gained traction thanks to growing privacy concerns among search users. Its recent inclusion as an optional search engine in Apple’s Safari browser was considered a major milestone – and exclusion in China is more likely to boost the engine’s stock among the target audience than it is likely to harm it.
The only major North American search engines available in China are Bing and Yahoo – Chinese search is dominated by Baidu and Qihoo, and foreign engines are heavily censored by the state. Google has been subject to various bans and the lack of locally situated servers make using the service prohibitively slow.
In the morning after the 55/45 split on Scottish independence, social networks were abuzz with Made.com’s email marketing error – claiming that they were launching in “a new country”, the not actually independent after-all Scotland. An apology email quickly followed, leaving most to assume that Made.com had banked all along on the “accident” going exactly as viral as it did. Made.com’s twitter account apparently confirmed the deceit shortly after sending.
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New York Stock Exchange Photo by ilaria