Google took the opportunity of its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco to launch Google Web Elements, a tool that allows site owners to integrate widget-like Google tools into Web pages. The company is touting the user-friendliness of the new feature, which allows code for the tools to be integrated into the site via cut-and-paste.
The widget-style tools, announced May 27, include Presentations, allowing the site owner to imbed Google Docs presentations into the page; Calendar, which reminds visitors of important dates; Conversation, which posts visitors' comments directly to the site; and Custom Search, a tool that visitors can use to scour the site.
Also on offer: Maps, News, Spreadsheets and YouTube News.
Online reports and message boards are also suggesting that Google started a PageRank update May 27, its system for ranking individual Web pages. Over at The Next Web, Editor-in-Chief Zee Kane noted that Twitter profile pages seem to be falling in PageRank.
However, Google has also run into some high-profile controversies over the past few months. In April, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Consumer Watchdog publicly questioned the settlement between Google, The Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) over the search-engine giant's growing digital library.
In particular, Consumer Watchdog argued that the settlement, which gave Google the same terms as any theoretical future competitor, deserved to be placed under government review.
One month later, Google was again challenged by the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries over the issue, with both of the latter organizations arguing that Google was in a position to monopolize digital books and readers' privacy rights.
Google seemed to counter-move May 21 with a revised agreement with the University of Michigan, allowing that school to protest any institutional-subscription pricing it viewed as unfair. Google meanwhile continues to scan as many volumes as possible, including "orphan" books still under copyright but whose rights-holders cannot be found, into its rapidly expanding online database.
The company also launched a massive PR campaign to convince politicians and media types that its grip on search and associated markets does not constitute a monopoly. During a May 7 Google shareholder meeting, CEO Eric Schmidt suggested the company would be "more careful" with regard to its business transactions.
Google maintains a comfortable double-digit lead in U.S. core search market share over Yahoo and Microsoft, which are rumored to be in discussions over a potential search and advertising deal. In a May 27 interview at the seventh annual D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz suggested that she would consider selling her company's search apparatus to Microsoft for "boatloads" of money.