First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall. We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data — whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability — should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.
In other words, if companies want to be part of the system that helps Google users find products and services, they will have to pay to be listed. Google has found another path to make money on the backs of many companies that need its traffic the most.
Oil Below $100 a Barrel
The price for Brent crude has dropped below the $100 milestone for the first time since October. It is another signal that: 1) the world is no longer worried about a major supply interruption, and 2) a slowing global economy has damaged demand and will continue to do so. The drop comes at just the right time. There have been concerns for months that high oil prices, the prices of petrochemical products and the rising cost of gasoline would knock the frail recovery off its axis. Now that the recovery already has been knocked askew, low oil prices may help stabilize troubled economic growth — or at least not make it worse. The one lingering issue with oil prices is that OPEC has signaled that $100 oil is about right for its members to put money in their national treasuries without the price undermining the global economy. OPEC has kept production almost as high as it can. It remains to be seen whether that will continue if Brent falls much more.
Grim EU Unemployment
Europe’s unemployment remains extremely high — 11% in April. Eurostat economists reported that:
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.0% in April 2012, stable compared with March. It was 9.9% in April 2011. The EU271 unemployment rate was 10.3% in April 2012, compared with 10.2% in March. It was 9.5% in April 2011.
Country by country, numbers were based in February readings. The situation was bloody for the countries where bad news was expected. Spain’s unemployment rose from 20.7% to 24.3%. Greece’s rose from 15.2% to 21.7%. There is absolutely no way these economies can recover with such a large portion of the population unemployed.
Windows 8 Preview
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released it preview edition of Windows 8, putting the world’s largest software company closer to launching what will be its most important product for the next two years. New launches of the Windows series drive tens of billions of dollars in Microsoft sales. The company announced:
It’s Windows reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability. It’s an all-new touch interface. It’s a new Windows for new devices. And it’s easy to try now — whether you’re installing it for the first time, or moving from Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Douglas A. McIntyre