Google finally unveiled its Google Glasses, wirelessly connected, augmented-reality enabled glasses which enable users to view information on a display which sits above the eye and interact using voice commands and eye gestures by tracking eye movements. While the technology is still in early development stages, it could potentially become one of Google’s advertising channels and drive significant revenue for it a couple of years down the line.
Google also acquired TxVia, a mobile payments technology company, to complement Google Wallet’s core offering, by adding additional features and the ability to scale up rapidly. TxVia’s core offering is a payments platform, which includes prepaid cards, reloadable cards, gift cards, etc. It has been in business for over five years, has relationships in place with all the major payment networks, and over 100 million accounts.
Google also launched several updates for its existing services. It added around 50 improvements to Google to further refine the search experience. It also added features like real-time traffic data to Google Maps and integrated Google Contacts with Google+ profiles, in its bid to offer a seamless experience across its wide range of offerings.
Facebook, which has been targeted by Yahoo for patent infringement, recently acquired 750 patents from IBM, to help it defend against patent litigation threats. This week, it filed a countersuit against Yahoo, alleging infringement of several of its patents that cover around 80% of Yahoo’s revenue last year. Facebook is targeting some of Yahoo’s main businesses — display advertising, content personalization and Flickr photo sharing with its lawsuit. Most of these patents were acquired after Yahoo’s lawsuit. With this move, Facebook is signaling that it is not going to be bullied and give up without a fight. Facebook also rolled out Timeline to all brand pages on the network.
Groupon’s week was full of controversies and lawsuits. It restated its Q4 2011 earnings, which resulted in lower revenue and net profit because of an increase in Groupon’s refund reserve accrual. This was was due to a shift in the company’s deal mix which now includes higher priced deals which generally have higher refund rates. It has already been hit with an SEC probe and a shareholder lawsuit following the restatement. The lawsuit claims that that the company overstated revenue, issued materially false and misleading financial results and misled investors about its financial prospects and concealed weak internal controls.
Groupon also settled a coupon expiration lawsuit for $8.5 million. While the settlement amount was chump change for Groupon, it also agreed to not sell more than 10% of its daily deals with expiration periods of less than 30 days over the next three years, as part of the settlement. This might impact the economics of its business as Groupon makes a significant portion of its revenue from deals with short expiration periods and could also restrain growth.