Follow up for yesterday

So it was a big day for TV yesterday, but I guess I let myself get too excited about it because I felt rather underwhelmed by what was finally revealed.

Google did indeed launch a video store. There’s some things I like about – notably that anyone can upload a video, and set any price on it (or give it away for free). They went out of their way to make it iPod and PSP compatible (good things), but if the producer opts to use DRM protection, it won’t work on those devices (lame). I suppose that’s not Google’s fault, it seems no content distributor will even talk to you without DRM, but still, it’s a damn shame they couldn’t talk them out of it.

The biggest news as far as the content goes is the release of “classic” TV – The Twilight Zone, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and the original Star Trek, among others. I’m glad to see that this stuff which is rarely found on TV in syndication anymore, has been allowed on the internet (even crippled as it is by DRM).

There’s no sign of an ad-based offering like Yahoo’s from Google, which is weird. Maybe it’s still in the works, but the iTunes-like model that Google has adopted isn’t what I would have expected from them. (Actually I have to say – what Yahoo came up with is a lot closer to what I thought Google would come up with).

Of course, absolutely none of these services are close to perfect or even something I’d want to spend money on. The media industry still hasn’t figured out what makes bittorrent so appealing, because it’s like they go out of their way to make the legal options less appealing than their “pirated” counterparts. The quality is nothing like a high quality bittorrent rip, I can’t use my preferred media player, the DRM keeps me from playing it on the devices of my choosing, and I have very limited options for backup or format shifting. Maybe with time they’ll figure that out with time… but it remains to be proven. I guess all in all this is a good first step, one just has to hope the services will become more consumer-friendly with time.

In a side note – Google also released Google Pack yesterday, which I’m scratching my head over a bit. It makes sense on a strategic level, it’s an anti-microsoft “service pack” for Windows, kind of a way to poke MS in the eye. But some of the software inclusions make sense. They have their own Google Talk, they’ve hired the lead developer for GAIM, yet the IM client they include is Trillian (don’t get me wrong, I love Trillian and use it myself, I just don’t get why Googe would back it). RealPlayer sucks, I don’t know anyone who thinks otherwise… and it’s especially weird given that they just partnered a deal with AOL who owns Winamp (Here’s a hint Google: Buy Winamp). Norton Antivirus is another odd choice, because it’s somewhat less-than-free.

On the other hand, maybe the software inclusions aren’t the big deal here – the most significant part of this is the “Google Updater”, because it’s reminiscent of a package manager for Linux, handling all software installs and updates with nothing more than checkboxes, rather than complicated installation options and screens. That’s a much bigger swipe at Microsoft than merely distributing competing software.


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