We are living in the age of information explosion where vast amounts of data are accessible at the click of a mouse. In the information and communication technology sector the challenge for the intended “consumers” is not how to get information but rather what use to make of it and consequently the ability to filter information is needful.
Because in our market economy the customer is supreme, organizations involved in selling data and offering other internet based solutions are locked in a vicious competition war in bid to outdo their rivals to win the affection and loyalty of the largest share of customers. This has resulted in a plethora of data based products launched at strategic timing and each promising superior performance capabilities.
Today, the world is truly a global village and what is more is the fact that we are enroute to becoming an e-society. In this era of technological advancement, it can’t pass ones attention that to great extent governments, academic institutions, individuals, and virtually all kinds of business organizations from small retail outlets, banking sector, pension schemes, and insurance companies name them, are increasingly becoming over dependent on computers. This perhaps explains the emergence of e-learning, e-commerce, e-shopping, e-government among others. One wonders aloud for example how a self service retailer who relies entirely on credit cards, debit cards and EFTPOS cards would cope without computers (Bennett, 2005: Para. 5). A cosmology of some socio-economic commentators has in recent past over emphasized on the negatives associated with the computer and information technology explosion. They proceed to cite loss of employment (even simple menial jobs), loss of creativity, falling education standards, declining moral ethos and most importantly the emergence of cyber crime. However, their claims cannot go unchallenged; despite the new challenges the benefits accruing from technological advancement are invaluable and cannot be gainsaid.
The use of electronic and internet tools in today’s wired world confirm the postulation that success is directly related to the options one has need not be overemphasized. Technophobes and the ignorant types lose out miserably on the vast opportunities available online; clearly, this attitude or situation constitutes a fatalistic snag and is imprudent for any entrepreneur to court as they would continue to lose potential revenue.
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Google Search is a web search engine, a tool designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. Google currently dominates the U.S. search market with a reported share of 64.9 per cent in September. Meanwhile, comparable figures for the same month showed that the closest challenger Bing (Microsoft and Yahoo’s new search engine), has been struggling to make progress in its attempt to bite a bigger chunk of the lucrative US search and advertising market commanding a 9.4 per cent share of the market.
However, seemingly though, Google is set for a titanic clash with Apple (AAPL) after the latter added a mobile search engine as the default option on its popular iPhones (Salkever, 2009).
Google Maps was launched as software application by Lars and Jens Rasmussen but upon acquisition by Google Inc was transformed into a web application that at the outset supported users of Internet Explorer and Mozilla web browsers. Currently, Internet Explorer 6.0+, Firefox 2.0+, Safari 3.1+, and Google Chrome are supported. It was in beta for six months before becoming part of Google Local on October 6, 2005. Google Maps support wide application, e.g. the site provides a local search feature which can be used to locate businesses of a certain type in a geographic area; Google Latitude feature that allows users to share their physical locations with other people; the Monopoly City Streets a version of the game Monopoly uses Google Maps as the game board; the Google Sky feature allows users to pan through a map of the visible universe, using photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The main complaints of the service touch on the authenticity of data, e.g. locations of houses and businesses. This is understandable because the satellite images are not in real time. An added feature to edit locations is therefore necessary. Other challenges include: privacy issues; restrictions placed on Google Maps through censoring of locations considered to be potential security threats; inaccurate names of geographical locations; merged and duplicated information listings; the difficulty of processing road data for cross-boundary situations; sometimes objects are hidden by clouds.
Is a newly launched web browser (the latest beta release) built from open source components like WebKit and V8. As with every new release the developers are all praise promising that it’s capable of running today’s complex web applications much better. That means improved performance in terms of speed (launches in a snap and loads web pages quickly); responsiveness across the board (searches the web right from the address bar); sleek design that give users room to browse their favorite sites; and protection from offending sites (Anonymous, 2009).
A head-to-head comparison pitting the latest Firefox 3.6 beta against the latest Chrome 4.0 by Michael Muchmore yielded the following results;
It is an application that enables users to better manage their voice communications. Initially, Google Voice will be available to current users of GrandCentral. The new application dramatically improves the way people use their phones. It’s possible, for users to get transcripts of their voicemail, archive and search all SMS text messages sent and received (Walker et al, 2009). The Google Voice Search functionality available on S60 mobile phones allows users to search by saying the query and getting the results on a web page rather than the old fashioned way of typing it. In fact the service is available in Mandarin Chinese, the most spoken language in the world.
Is a website which allows users to upload and share videos. You Tube a subsidiary of Google Inc., is the leading provider of online video in the US – with an estimated 43% market share. The site is uploaded by individuals, media organizations including BBC, CBS and a host of other companies. The greatest challenge, though, is the uploading of offensive material (defamations, pornography e.t.c).
Savvy computer end-users expect consistency from software products. In the case of interactive applications, users form expectations based on their experience with similar kinds of software. It’s therefore imperative that software designers aim to address aspects of user interface, responsiveness and usability.
One of the sure effects of ubiquitous computing will be user experience revolution; as networks of clever/intelligent gadgets permeate our environment, the greater our expectations. In conclusion, therefore, knowing user’s expectations about an application is paramount to designing it (Kuviansky, 2003).
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