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links for 2006-01-06

January 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Bookmarks, Culture, Blogs | no comments

Tell Me Its Not A Software Bundle!

ThreadWatch writes that the Wall Street Journal has the scoop on Google’s CES announcement, and its a video download rental service… and a software bundle?

Google video rental: Google will be partnering up with television stations like CBS and the NBA to allow people to download videos for a fee.

Google Pack: a software package including pretty much everything but an operating system and productivity suite.

[It] will include the open-source Firefox Web browser, a version of Norton AntiVirus software from Symantec Corp., Adobe Systems Inc.’s Reader software, RealNetworks Inc.’s RealPlayer multimedia software, Trillian instant-messaging software from Cerulean Studios and Lavasoft AB’s Ad-Aware antispyware software. Google Pack will also include Google’s own desktop search software, Google Earth satellite imaging and maps software, Picasa photo-management software, Google Talk instant-messaging program, its Toolbar add-on for Web browsers and screen saver software.

The download service has been expected for a while, although I think most of us were expecting Google to differentiate itself with a long-tail download service (upload anything to Google Video, and charge for it).

However, the software bundle is just strange. Dirson reports that you’ll be able to find it at The Google Pack will have:

  • Firefox
  • A version of Norton AntiVirus
  • Adobe Reader
  • RealPlayer
  • Trillian
  • Ad-Aware
  • Google Desktop Search
  • Google Earth
  • Picasa
  • Google Talk
  • Google Toolbar
  • [Google?] screensaver

I call it the anti-Microsoft Pack:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows OneCare Live
  • Metro?
  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Desktop Search
  • Windows Live Local
  • Windows Vista Photo Gallery
  • Windows Live Messenger, again
  • MSN Search Toolbar

Most of Microsoft’s products are better, and at least all of Microsoft’s products are from Microsoft! What exactly is the point of bundling all these services, unless you get something extra? The only way this won’t be an awful letdown is if:

  • Google Bridge - Much like Adobe’s Creative Suite, Google releases a central interface for the whole shebang that ties in the whole system. The Bridge would run over Windows and shut out the operating system, possibly even providing better security. The Bridge would integrate the applications, creating a virtual Google shell, one that could eventually be ported to non-Windows platforms to make Windows irrelevant, if it takes off.

    Saving grace: 90%, even if it sucks
    Odds of happening: 30%

  • Premium versions - “a version of Norton AntiVirus” could mean that Google will pay for your antivirus subscription, but only if you keep the entire suite installed. Giving Norton’s suite away would be real tempting to most folks. Google could also bundle a lite version of a PDF creation tool, a premium version of RealPlayer and Ad-Aware, all if you keep the whole thing installed.

    Saving grace: 80% with Norton, 60% without
    Odds of happening: 60% for Norton, 15% for the rest of the Pack

  • New versions - Google will deliver new versions of its own programs, and Larry Page will try to be Steve Jobs onstage. Google Desktop Search is due for a new version, Google Earth could add a few new features, Picasa hasn’t been updated in a year, Google Talk needs more feature (although the presence of Trillian hints it still isn’t ready), and the Toolbar could be updated, maybe even to interface with the rest of the Pack. And the screensaver is new, and could be a functional screensaver, not a pretty one.

    Saving grace: 40%, unless there’s a killer new feature in there
    Odds of Happening: 45%

  • Does nothing - Google changes very little about anything in the suite (except for a few logos and cosmetic changes, and a minor new feature or two) and Larry Page spends most of the CES keynote explaining how good Google’s products already are.

    Saving grace: 0%
    Odds of happening: 80%

  • Google $200 computer

    Saving Grace: 150%
    Odds of happening: 10%

  • Google Cube media receiver

    Saving Grace: 130%
    Odds of happening: 20%

  • Some other, really good Google product gets announced

    Saving Grace: 80% if its really good, 30% if it isn’t
    Odds of happening: 50%

So, there you go. I’ve got my odds set out. I really hope Google isn’t doing something as low rent an unimaginative as a software bundle, but I guess anything’s possible. Ireally hope that if it is a software bundle, they’re hiding something else up their sleeve. You don’t keynote at CES for a software bundle, so either we don’t know everything, or Google is shooting real low.

Some more from WSJ:

Google Pack, which could eventually come preinstalled when people buy some new personal computers, is one way for Google to promote alternatives to Microsoft. It doesn’t, however, appear to include productivity applications, such as word-processor software, that would compete more directly with Microsoft’s core software business. A Microsoft spokesman wasn’t able to comment.

Google Pack, which will involve a single installer program for all applications, could also ease some of Google’s own work providing technical support to users. In some cases, the software in Google Pack could fix problems — such as viruses or spyware on computers — that impede consumers’ usage of Google services.

Some details of Google’s online video service remain unclear, such as how much content owners might charge consumers to download their videos. Google last year had said it planned to allow content owners to charge for videos, but it hadn’t activated that feature. Interest in delivering video over the Internet has surged since October, when Apple began offering downloads of popular TV shows through a partnership with Walt Disney Co. Google has developed its own digital-rights-management software to protect downloaded videos from piracy.

Seems like PR FUD about the Pack. Did the Journal promise to not say anything mean to get the scoop?

January 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Google Earth, Toolbar, Talk, Google Pack, Products, Picasa, Tools, Desktop Search, Desktop, General | 17 comments

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Book Chapter By Wiki

Philipp Lenssen is in the midst of writing a book “55 Ways To Have Fun With Google“. In another brilliant idea, he’s letting everyone write the chapter on Google Maps in a wiki. I went ahead and wrote six paragraphs. What a great idea! Head over and make a contribution to the book, and make sure to give yourself credit as well.

January 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | no comments

Perspectives: January 4

perspectivesI’ve decided to start a new series on this blog, which I’m calling Perspectives. I realize that I end a lot of posts with “we’ll see where this goes”, but we never get to see, since I’m not going to repeat the same stuff every day until a conclusion is reached. Blogs tend to be so obsessed with the “now”, that we never pay attention to what’s happened in the past, and we forget things that might be important. So, every day, unless I’m way too busy (or not around), I’ll post about whatever I was discussing a year ago, and, as time goes by, two years ago, and so on.

On January 4, 2005, a poll had 65% of respondents suggesting to sell Google. So, if Google has more than doubled in a year, how many kinds of correct would my pronouncement of those people as “idiots” be?

Google also announced it would be starting a charitable foundation, which was later revealed as Like most charities, the results have been slow to materialize, but Google has grand ambitions, so as long as they get their results, who could complain?

Google’s blog tried to respond to January 2004’s controversy du jour, that it was too hard and inconvenient to try to get a job at Google, by saying, “if you’re thinking that it’s too late to make an impact at Google… there are more chances to make your mark than ever before”. It is probably easier to get a job now than a year ago, due to the fact that Google has hired so many people and is looking for even more, although anything less than perfect will still disqualify you. I would love to hear if any of my readers were trying to get hired.

Finally, Six Apart was buying LiveJournal. I haven’t heard anything about integration between the services. Can you do things that cross TypePad to LJ, like adding TypePad blogs to your LJ friends or migrating your blog from one service to the other, or have they done nothing with it?

This has been “Perspectives”, I’m Lionel Osbourne.

January 5th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Googleplex, Perspectives, Controversy, Culture, Stock Market, Blogs, General | no comments