May 28, 2009
Microsoft Introduces New Search Engine: BING
Bing Helps People Make Better Decisions, says Microsoft.
Microsoft Corp. today unveiled Bing, a new Decision Engine and consumer brand, "providing customers with a first step in moving beyond search to help make faster, more informed decisions".
According to Microsoft, Bing is specifically designed to build on the benefits of today's search engines but begins to move beyond this experience with a new approach to user experience and intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions, focusing initially on four key vertical areas:
• Making a purchase decision.
• Planning a trip.
• Researching a health condition.
• Finding a local business.
This new approach is a beginning for a new kind of search service, which Microsoft is calling a Decision Engine that is designed to empower people to gain insight and knowledge from the Web by moving more quickly to important decisions.
The explosive growth of online content has continued unabated, and Bing was developed as a tool to help people more easily navigate through the information overload that has come to characterize many of today's search experiences, explains Microsoft.
"Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don't do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. "When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web. Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they've found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions."
Based on the customer insight that 66 percent of people are using Internet search more frequently to make complex decisions, Microsoft identified three design goals to guide the development of Bing:
• Deliver great results.
• Deliver a more organized experience.
• Simplify tasks and provide insight, leading to faster, more confident decisions.
"The new service, built to go beyond today's search experience, includes deep innovation on core search areas including entity extraction and expansion, query intent recognition and document summarization technology as well as a new user experience model that dynamically adapts to the type of query to provide relevant and intuitive decision-making tools," claims Microsoft.
The new service, located at http://www.bing.com/, will begin to roll out over the coming days and will be fully deployed worldwide on Wednesday, June 3, 2009. It is only then that one can find out whether Bing is really a "Decision Engine" as Microsoft proclaims.
Source: Microsoft Corporation
"Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life."
-- Immanuel Kant
[Added June 25, 2009]
"Bing is overtaking Google. But Google has the Best Database."
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May 20, 2009
RENAULT: OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF THE 62nd CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
Photo: Renault Vel Satis, official car of the Cannes Film Festival. (Credits: Stéphane Kossmann)
French automaker Renault has fostered the growth of the Cannes Film Festival for 26 years. This year too, since May 13, 2009, a fleet of about hundred vehicles, including 70 Vel Satis and 30 Espace, are driving the actors and Festival guests to and from the red-carpeted steps. In addition, about a dozen Kangoo be bop are supplementing the official fleet.
Photo: Kristin Scott Thomas, getting out of Ranault Vel Satis. (Credits: Stéphane Kossmann)
Photo: Hafsia Herzi, french actress who declared opened the 62nd Cannes Film Festival with Charles Aznavour. (Credits: Stéphane Kossmann)
The relationship between Renault and the movie industry is more than a century old. According to the company, Louis Renault's Voiturette appeared in early films in 1899, when the first film studios were built in Boulogne-Billancourt at the same time as the first Renault factory on the Ile Seguin.
Renault informs that it is continuing its commitment to film and television production today through an active policy of sponsorship and product placements. Several models from the Renault range are in the films in the Festival's official selection, such as Les Herbes Folles by Alain Resnais.
Photo: Renault New Grand Scénic painted in the colors of Up, the opening film of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. (Credits: Stéphane Kossmann)
Photo: Renault New Grand Scénic painted in the colors of Up, the opening film of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. (Credits: Stéphane Kossmann)
This year, Renault, and especially the latest model in the range, New Grand Scénic, is also teaming up with Disney Pixar and the 3D animated feature Up, screened at the Opening Ceremony. According to Renault, the arrival of members of the Disney teams in front of the red carpet on board the three New Grand Scénic models decked out in the colors of the film marks the beginning of an international collaboration in communications interfaces that spans more than 20 countries and that is boosting traffic in Renault showrooms.
The Atelier Renault situated at the Champs Elysées has also been set up in Cannes for the 62nd festival. Located on the beachfront of the Majestic, in the middle of the Cannes atmosphere, the Atelier is open to all visitors and is exhibiting photography featuring celebrities from around the world mounting the famous Steps.
May 17, 2009
Airbus "Fly Your Ideas" Contest: Five Teams Reach Final
Teams hail from the Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe.
Photo: Airbus A321 being delivered to Air France at Airbus' Hamburg, Germany facility. (© Airbus)
Photo: Airbus A380 Takeoff. (© Airbus)
Five teams out of the 86 that were still in the competition have been chosen to go forward to the grand final of the Fly Your Ideas challenge at the Paris Le Bourget Airshow. Airbus, launched the contest in October 2008.
More than 2,350 students from 82 countries entered Fly Your Ideas. To participate in the contest, students were asked to develop creative ideas that can shape the future of aviation and deliver a further reduction in the industry's impact on the environment. Of the 225 teams taking part in the first round concluded in December 2008, the top 86 teams were selected for round two which ended on 31 March.
The five finalist teams are:
• The "Big Bang Team" from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain for its windowless cabin proposal for a new eco-efficient aircraft design.
• "COz" from the University of Queensland, Australia (including an overseas student from the University of Stuttgart, Germany) for its proposal on the use of bio composite cabin materials made from castor plant natural fibres.
• "Kometa Brno" from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic whose team developed a project on aircraft taxiway movements using electro-motors.
• "Solaire Voyager" from the National University of Singapore, selected for its solar cell technology project integrating photovoltaic cells aboard aircraft to generate electricity.
• "Stanford ADG" from Stanford University in the USA for their proposal on inverted V formation flight, building on the model of migrating birds to reduce energy consumption.
Photo: The Airbus A350 XWB's onboard systems are designed for maximum robustness and simplicity. (© Airbus)
Photo: The Airbus A350 XWB's widebody fuselage provides optimum seating efficiency for revenue potential. (© Airbus)
Between now and the Le Bourget Airshow, the teams will prepare their project presentations with the help of an Airbus coach. On 18 June, the teams will present their projects to the jury in Paris. The first and second place teams will be announced on 19 June, at the Le Bourget Airshow where Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO will present the prizes. The winning team will receive a first prize of 30,000 euros whilst the runner-up will receive 15,000 euros. An additional prize of 5,000 euros will be given to the team who is chosen by Airbus employees for the "Employees Choice" prize. The additional award will be given to the team who is selected as having the best video from among the teams not selected for the final.
The jury is comprised of five internationally renowned independent experts and five Airbus representatives, specialized in fields such as engineering, the environment, human resources and marketing.
"Selecting the five teams was incredibly difficult as the projects submitted were very diverse and of high quality. The Fly Your Ideas contest has demonstrated that students from around the world have excellent ideas for the aviation industry of tomorrow," declared Patrick Gavin, Airbus Executive Vice-President Engineering and Fly Your Ideas contest patron.
Airbus is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. With annual revenues of over 27 billion euros in 2008, Airbus is a global company employing some 52,000 people from over 80 countries.
May 15, 2009
GLOBAL CAR MARKET STUDY BY POLK: LIGHT VEHICLE SALES TO DECLINE 15% IN 2009
Global Light Vehicle Sales to Decline 15% in 2009, says Polk Study.
Study shows worldwide volumes won't return to pre-crisis levels until 2012.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s latest market study released today predicts that the automotive market won't emerge from the worldwide recession until 2012, later than previously forecast, due to worsening economic conditions. The study further predicts that Global light vehicle sales will decline 14.7 percent from 2008 levels to 55.2 million units in 2009.
• Emerging Markets Have Greatest Growth Potential
• Asian Automakers Gain Market Share in U.S.
• Scrappage and Tax Incentives Provide Short-Term Help for Saturated Markets
• Toyota Maintains Position as the Top Manufacturer
Long-term growth for the global automotive market will come from the "emerging" markets of Latin America; Central and Eastern Europe; Africa and the fast-growing Asia-Pacific/Middle Eastern region (excluding the developed market of Japan). Beginning in 2015, Polk expects more light vehicles will be sold in the aggregated emerging markets than in the combined "saturated" markets of the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Japan.
"We see China and India as key drivers of growth, as vehicles become attainable for an increasing percentage of these countries' huge consumer populations," said Uwe Biastoch, director of global forecasting at Polk. "Like Tata Motors with the recent launch of the low-cost Nano in India, manufacturers that innovate and produce market-specific products will be successful in emerging markets," said Biastoch.
These emerging markets will come out of the current crisis three years earlier than the saturated regions. Light vehicle sales in the emerging markets will top 2007 levels in 2011; this won't happen until 2014 in the saturated regions.
The U.S. has been hard-hit by the economic crisis, and new vehicle sales have dropped from a high of almost 17.5 million in 2000 to 13.2 million in 2008, with a further decline to 10 million projected for 2009. Polk predicts that 2009 will mark the end of U.S. market share dominance for the domestic automakers: Asian manufacturers will capture 47 percent of U.S. market share, compared to 44 percent for American automakers and 9 percent for European brands.
Western Europe will fare better than the United States and Canada in the short term, in large part because of scrappage incentives introduced in countries including Germany and Italy. Light vehicle sales in Western Europe will fall 9 percent from 2008 to 2009, compared to 24 percent in the United States and Canada during the same timeframe.
"The U.S. market is currently in a state of flux, with the impact of Chrysler's Chapter 11 filing yet to be realized and GM's fate uncertain. It also remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will follow the lead of some European countries and reward consumers who turn in old vehicles and purchase cleaner cars, and what the impact of such a fleet modernization initiative might be," said Ulrich Winzen, chief analyst at Polk.
Worldwide, Toyota will maintain its position as the top manufacturer, with a fairly stable market share of 12 percent through 2020. Ford and General Motors have both seen their global market share drop by nearly five percentage points from 2000 to 2008, and Polk expects both to lose more market share through 2012. Volkswagen, on the other hand, will gain almost a point of market share in the next three years. "Volkswagen is making great inroads in China, which will certainly boost its success worldwide. At some point in 2009, we expect Volkswagen to surpass GM as the number two manufacturer in the world, although the race will be close," said Biastoch. "The trend could change temporarily to GM's benefit if the proposed U.S. scrappage incentive passes."
R. L. Polk & Co. is a provider of automotive information concerned with marketing.
Source: R. L. Polk & Co.
Click HERE for a PDF copy of the Polk's Market Study: "Forecasting Global Vehicle Demand".
May 13, 2009
L'Oreal Paris introduces Two New Spokespeople
A couple of hours before the Opening Ceremony of the 62nd Cannes Festival, Freida PINTO and Evangeline LILLY are joining as the newest World Spokespeople for L'OREAL PARIS.
"On the eve of the Cannes Festival, to which I want to reiterate our attachment, L'Oreal Paris is delighted that these great stars of world cinema have agreed to represent our brand," said Jean-Jacques Lebel, President L'Oreal Consumer Products.
Photo: L'Oreal Paris announces Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto as a new world spokesperson for the brand. (L'Oreal Paris, Manmeet Bhatti)
FREIDA PINTO was discovered by Danny Boyle in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, the film that won eight Oscars. After Julian Schnabel's movie which she is currently shooting, she will be filming this summer in Woody Allen's next film, as part of an impressive cast.
Photo: L'Oreal Paris announces LOST's Evangeline Lilly as a new world spokesperson for the brand. (L'Oreal Paris, Kwaku Alston/Corbis Outline)
"EVANGELINE LILLY came to our notice in LOST", says L'Oreal. Her character "Kate" won her a nomination for the 2007 Golden Globe Awards as Best Actress in a Drama Series.
Vianney Derville, International General Manager of L'Oreal Paris stated: "I am proud that all these actresses are now our World Spokespeople, alongside other L'Oreal Paris spokespeople including Penelope Cruz, Beyonce Knowles, Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, Aishwarya Rai and Kerry Washington. We are delighted to welcome them as representatives of L'Oreal Paris. We have been completely won over by their rising careers as actresses, together with their attachment to the values of humanity and diversity."
The L'Oreal Paris brand encompasses the four major beauty categories -- haircolor, haircare, skincare and cosmetics.
Source: L'Oreal Paris
May 6, 2009
Ford to Build New Global Small Cars, Electric Vehicle at Michigan Plant
Ford invests $550 million to transform Michigan Assembly Plant from a large SUV factory into a modern, flexible small car plant.
Production for the North American market of the new global Ford Focus begins next year followed by production in 2011 of a battery-electric Focus, helping Ford meet its promise of delivering four new electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2012.
Photo: The Michigan Assembly Plant is becoming Ford's first site for building both the next-generation Focus and a BEV companion vehicle.
Photo: 2008 Ford Focus RS
Ford Motor Company said today it is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a "lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford's next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market."
The plant, formerly the production site for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators SUVs, is one of three North American light truck plants Ford is retooling to build fuel-efficient global small cars in the coming years. The new Focus will begin rolling off the line next year and the battery-electric version of the Focus - Ford's first all-electric passenger car - debuts in 2011.
As part of the retooling, Ford will consolidate its operations from Wayne Assembly Plant. When production launches in 2010, approximately 3,200 employees will be building the new Focus at Michigan Assembly Plant. At the plant, Ford and United Auto Workers are developing modern new operating practices to ensure "high quality and even greater efficiency."
Photo: 2008 Focus RS World Rally Car
Photo: 2008 Ford Focus Germany
"The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles. It is about leveraging our expertise and vehicle platforms around the world and partnering with the UAW to deliver best-in-class global small cars. It is about skilled and motivated teams working together in new ways to create the future of automobile manufacturing in the United States."
The reinvention of Michigan Assembly, once one of the world's most profitable auto plants during the SUV boom of the late 1990s, is rooted in the fundamental strategic shift by Ford to leverage its global assets to bring six world-class small cars to the American market by the end of 2012. To produce the vehicles, Ford is converting three truck and SUV plants to car plants - Michigan Assembly, Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, which begins building the new Fiesta subcompact early next year; and Louisville (Ky.) Assembly, which will be converted to produce small vehicles from Ford's global Focus platform beginning in 2011.
Photo: Ford Focus In Winter Europe
Photo: 2008 Ford Focus ST Germany
The new Focus is being developed in Europe. Over time, the new platform will be the basis for more than 2 million units annually around the world, including Focus and other derivatives, allowing Ford to leverage economies of scale to improve investment efficiency.
The zero-emission Focus battery-electric vehicle, which is being developed in partnership with Magna International, features a high-voltage electric motor powered by a high capacity Lithium Ion battery pack and charged by plugging in to a 110-volt or 220-volt outlet. The vehicle is one part of a larger strategy Ford announced in January to develop electric vehicles for North America quickly and affordably by leveraging its global platform capability.
According to Ford, the state of Michigan and local governments provided tax incentives and grants that enabled the investment in Michigan Assembly, which will be designated as the state's first automotive technology anchor site.
Source: Ford Motor Company
"The Small Car Mantra. Ford's Got It!"
Also check the following relevant posts:
• October 14, 2008: FORD'S SMALL CAR -- ALL-NEW FORD KA
May 1, 2009
General Motors Announces Full Cooperation with Obama Administration
GM says it is poised to become a Leaner, More Viable Company.
General Motors Corporation has issued the following statement:
"We are deeply appreciative for President Obama's strong commitment and support of the American auto industry and its employees. Like him, we firmly believe that the best days of America's auto manufacturers--including Chrysler--lay ahead. GM remains focused on accelerating the speed of its operational restructuring and reducing the liabilities and debt on its balance sheet. We look forward to working with the President's Auto Task force to do so and are committed to transparent reporting of our restructuring every step of the way."
Earlier, it issued a Press Release on its Updated Viability Plan and Restructuring of U.S. Operations. General Motors' updated Viability Plan will speed the reinvention of GM's U.S. operations into a leaner, more customer-focused, and more cost-competitive automaker, the Release said.
The Viability Plan is included in an exchange offer whereby GM is offering certain bondholders shares of GM common stock and accrued interest in exchange for certain outstanding notes.
The Revised Viability Plan gives importance to the following points:
• A focus on four core brands in the U.S. - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC - with fewer nameplates and a more competitive level of marketing support per brand.
• A more aggressive restructuring of GM's U.S. dealer organization to better focus dealer resources for improved sales and customer service.
• Improved U.S. capacity utilization through accelerated idling and closures of powertrain, stamping, and assembly plants.
• Lower structural costs.
"We are taking tough but necessary actions that are critical to GM's long-term viability," said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO. "Our responsibility is clear - to secure GM's future - and we intend to succeed. At the same time, we also understand the impact these actions will have on our employees, dealers, unions, suppliers, shareholders, bondholders, and communities, and we will do whatever we can to mitigate the effects on the extended GM team."
GM in the U.S. will focus its resources on four core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010. GM will offer a total of 34 nameplates in 2010, a reduction of 29 percent from 48 nameplates in 2008. This four-brand strategy will enable GM to better focus its new product development programs and provide more competitive levels of market support, the Press Release clarifies.
GM anticipates reducing its U.S. dealer count from 6,246 in 2008 to 3,605 by the end of 2010, a reduction of 42 percent. According to GM, this reduction in U.S. dealers will allow for a more competitive dealer network and higher sales effectiveness in all markets.
Photo: 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LT
Photo: 2010 Chevrolet Spark
Photo: Chevrolet Aveo5 LT Hatchback.
Photo: 2009 Chevrolet Silverado LT, Z71 Crew Cab
Photo: 2011 Chevrolet Volt Production Show Car
"We have strong new product coming for our four core brands: the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Cruze and Volt; Buick LaCrosse; GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Sport Wagon and Coupe," said Henderson. "A tighter focus by GM and its dealers will help give these products the capital investment, marketing and advertising support they need to be truly successful."
The Viability Plan also lowers GMNA's breakeven volume to a U.S. annual industry volume of 10 million total vehicles, based on the pricing and share assumptions in the plan. As a result of these and other actions, GMNA's structural costs are projected to decline 25 percent, from $30.8 billion in 2008 to $23.2 billion in 2010, a further decline of $1.8 billion by 2010 versus the February 17 Plan, the Press Release explains.
Another key element of GM's restructuring will be taking the necessary actions to strengthen its balance sheet. "A stronger balance sheet would free the company to invest in the products and technologies of the future," Henderson said. "It will also help provide stability and security to our customers, our dealers, our employees, and our suppliers."
"The Viability Plan reflects the direction of President Obama and the U.S. Treasury that GM should go further and faster on our restructuring," Henderson said. "We appreciate their support and direction. This stronger, leaner business model will enable GM to keep doing what it does best - provide great new cars, trucks and crossovers to our customers, and continue to develop new advanced propulsion technologies that are vital for our country's economy and environment."
Source: General Motors