April 20, 2019

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How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?

How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?
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Google is dealing with the disclosure that its social network, Google Plus, exposed the personal data of up to 500,000 users — but the planned product launches scheduled for Tuesday may take investors’ minds off the issue.

The data scandal: Google discovered in March that a security vulnerability with its social network could have allowed outside developers to view personal information about users, including email addresses, gender and age. But the company chose not to disclose the issue because it didn’t appear that anyone had gained access to user information and was not legally required to do so. Google Monday said it would shutter the long-struggling Google Plus service as a result of the flaw.

The good news: Google is scheduled to unveil a number of new consumer products at 11 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Expected to be among them are two versions of the Pixel 3 smartphone, a potential update to its smart speaker and a new tablet. They’re all part of Google’s strategy to highlight the company’s services via hardware(rather than necessarily become best-sellers in their own right).

What to watch: It will be interesting to see if the company mentions the data debacle during its announcements today — discussing it may highlight the significance, but ignoring it might cause further concern about the way the company sought to cover up the situation. The stock price of Google’s parent, Alphabet, fell by less than 1 percent on Monday after news of the security vulnerability emerged, and was up slightly in early trading on Tuesday. Tuesday’s announcements may help it overcome Monday’s bad news, but regulators in Europe or the United States could still punish the company over the security issue.

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