Besides promising to keep the videos working for an additional six months, Google is refunding to the credit cards of anyone who bought anything from Google video, and letting them keep their Google Checkout credit. That means that if you bought a video from Google, you get six more months to watch it, you get your money back in full, and you get an equal amount of credit at stores like Buy.com. What a deal!
Good of Google to fix this problem, but boy are they taking a hit. They are giving up 200% of all revenues from the Google Video store, making it an obscenely unprofitable enterprise. The only hope: That the store was such a colossal failure that the actual dollars being refunded aren’t that high. My, what a sad ending to this story.
Google has announced it is closing down the Google Video Store, which sold videos to a very small audience for the last year and a half. Users who paid for the videos will not only not be able to buy new ones, but because of Google’s use of a proprietary DRM format, will have their videos stop working entirely and never, ever play again.
Clearly, this is part of Google’s plan to undermine others’ DRM strategy by making consumers so angry, they’ll never buy DRM music and video from Apple or Microsoft, right? Because no company could be this stupid?
As of Wednesday, DRM video will stop running (Google stopped selling them a month ago. Google is giving previous purchasers a Google Checkout coupon based on how much they purchased to sorta make up for it, but the coupon expires in 60 days. Presumably the coupons are 100% refunds, since anything else would be tantamount to robbery and back up Boing Boing’s call for a class action lawsuit. As Profy says:
Also, it should provide full refunds for the amount users spent in the marketplace, at least for purchased videos. When you buy a DVD from a store, you get to keep it, unless it is defective in which case you are offered a full refund or exchange. A store does not simply say, “Sorry, we will take that movie back and give you a $5 store credit.” Just because the content is digital does not mean that it should not be subject to the same terms that apply to retail purchases.
Ars explains how Google just made a great anti-DRM argument:
Yet now Google Video has given us a gift—a “proof of concept” in the form of yet another argument against DRM—and an argument for more reasonable laws governing copyright controls. How could Google’s failure be our gain? Simple. By picking up its marbles and going home, Google just demonstrated how completely bizarre and anti-consumer DRM technology can be. Most importantly, by pulling the plug on the service, Google proved why consumers have to be allowed to circumvent copy controls.
Poor Charlie Rose. It seemed like he was the only one really using the damn.
I suspect this is the last post in the Google Video Store category. Where do I retire dead categories?
Google is doing something that can only be described as dishonest. Google has been showing little (and sometimes not-so-little) Google Checkout icons in ads bought by advertisers who are using the system, which is whatever, their prerogative to do to promote their own service. What I don’t like is Google now using the Checkout icon, obviously designed to draw attention to an ad (and not provide a benefit for the user) to their own house ads:
As you can see in the image above, Google put the li’l shopping cart icon next to a Google Video ad (which you can see makes no mention of selling anything anyway, making it irrelevant). Now, Google Video may or may not use Google Checkout*, but I know one service that doesn’t use it: Google Analytics. That didn’t stop Amit Agarwal from finding an ad for Analytics that contained the icon, even though Analytics is a free service. Perhaps the icon was earned by the Google Store?
I know Google’s getting desperate about making money off anything other than AdWords, but they need to stop doing stupid things like this. It’s just questionable decision after questionable decision lately with these guys.
* - The reason I’m not sure if Google Video uses Checkout? Take a look:
Yeah, Google Video’s purchase system detects your browser and OS, and if it isn’t Windows 2000/XP or Mac OS X, it refuses you. Uh, I’m running Windows Vista, so there shouldn’t be a problem. Whoops. Another thing to fix…
The NBA has terminated its sale of game videos on Google Video, a partnership that would have been ten months old tomorrow. That would typically indicate either dissatisfaction with Google’s video store model, the NBA wanting more money, or something else entirely (like the YouTube deal).
Still, Google Video users get something better, because it is free: The NHL is now available on Google Video. Not only can you watch a ton of current season hockey games, plus some great classic games, full length and commercial free on Google Video, but you can also download the videos for permanent ownership as an iPod/PSP MP4 file, or a .GVI/AVI freako hybrid video. The only thing I don’t like is that the videos can’t be embedded on other sites.
Ever since the strike ended and most hockey games moved to networks I don’t have, I haven’t seen a lot of games. Thanks to Google, I may watch more hockey this year than since the last time the Rangers were competitors.
Speaking of which, the two super-classic games from the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup championship run are among those available:
Google has released a Mac version of its video player. This means that Mac OS users can purchase and watch videos protected with Google’s DRM technology, as well as watch offline downloads of Google Videos.
Isn’t it amazing how, with almost the exact same interface, it is just prettier on a Mac? Take a look:
If you are wondering if Windows Vista makes any sort of difference, it doesn’t.
The Google Video Player for Mac requires a gigahertz processor and at least 16 megabytes of video ram. It is a Universal binary and will run on Power PC and Intel Macs.
Continuing the catching up bandwagon (six posts so far, and I’ve actually lost ground!), this time I’ll look at what’s new.
First off, Google just (and I mean just launched Google Finance. Finance is barely a search engine, focusing far more on content, namely stock market stats and aggregated information. The Finance page for a company contains a Flash (not AJAX! The horror!) stock chart, where you can drag a slider to select date ranges and run the mouse over to see instantly changing stats. There are news articles to the right of the chart, and they are based on the date range, changing when the range changes and being mapped out, Google Maps style, on the chart.
Above the chart is lots of basic numbers. Below it are company facts (profit, revenues, address and phone number), a Reuters company summary, excerpts from financial reports, a management list, related companies, links to other financial sites, blog posts from Blog Search and Google Group posts. Rolling over management names reveals an AJAX (whew!) popout that has a photo and links to the person’s bio, compensation and stock sales.
You can add any stock to your “portfolio”, which means you see headlines and quotes on the Finance homepage. You can also go to your portfolio page, enter how many shares you own and what you paid for them, and track your earnings (or losses). Yeah, how many people are giving up their stock portfolios to Google? God, they really are obsessed with getting your information.
Google also released version 18.104.22.168 of the Google Video Player. It includes clickable preview frames, optimizations, proper menu shortcuts, improved login, fixed audio stuttering, better error handling and a more polished GUI.
Google Video now has a full-length indie flick for $14.99, or $1.99 for a day pass. Increase the day pass by a few days, drop the buy option to $10-12, and you’ve hit the perfect spot for movie downloads.
Turns out AdWords has been adding some great features I never noticed, including ad keyword popularity graphs, generating keywords based on your content pages, global traffic trends in search volume (for the last twelve months, including the peak season).
AdSenseBlackList.com has a generator that gives you a list of sites you should be blacklisting for AdSense, so called MFA sites. MFA is the popular acronym for “Made For AdSense” sites that provide zero content of any use, and buy really cheap AdSense ads to get people to visit.
Turns out Adam Bosworth is working at something called Google Health, probably designed to target the health care industry. They stole my idea! I told some people at Search Champs that MSN should start a search engine to work through the clutter and provide accurate, up-to-date medical information. The elderly could use it to find the prescription drug plan that would be right for them, an impossibility in the current industry. The site could make money through comissions from mega-billions drug companies, instead of advertising (or both). I hope, for the sake of all the confused folks out there, that it is what Google is up to.
You can sign up for In2TV Alerts to get notifications via IM or email of new episodes. There are neat features like Karaoke, where you sing along with theme songs, as well as categories for big stars in early roles, pilot episodes, You have to be signed in to use it. In2TV doesn’t seem to work well in Opera, and I couldn’t get the player to run in IE7 (apparently I have the wrong version of Windows Media Player, you know, the newest version ).
Once I installed the DRM plugin for Firefox, things eventually started working perfectly. Even the highest quality (700 kbps) loaded within seconds, and looked pretty good in full screen mode. Not DVD quality, but better than broadcast. Streaming was perfect, no hiccups.
You can skip through the show pretty easily, although you can only skip forward within a segment of the show. Once the segment ends (when the show reaches a natural commercial break), a commercial is shown. You cannot skip the commercial, but it is only one commercial. In one instance, the segment ended, and the next started, with no commercial. During a 45 minute episode of Lois and Clark, with the show divided in six segments, I saw two 30-second commercials and two 18-second commercials. In fact, the last 30-second spot was before the credits, so I actually could skip it.
Browser compatibility issues aside, I couldn’t be more pleased with the technical side of things. And who can argue with free Pinky and the Brain? Take that, copyright infringing Google Video and YouTube! This is the way online video should be: uncut, high quality, and free with commercials.
That said, I want more. I was expecting there to be full runs of some shows. Also AOL originally said these shows would be available for Hi-Q. It appears that either they overpromised, or this is a beta phase, and we’ll get more as time goes by. AOL’s done an excellent job actually getting real content, and I suspect the ad-supported systems will get a lot more users than the iTunes and Google video stores.
BuyGoogle has uploaded some videos to Google Video, with the instructions that he wants to sell them. As a result, they’ve been sitting in a queue. Well, he’s just received notice the waiting period is getting closer to its end. Whereas before it said “Waiting to be verified” for the pay videos (which he’s selling for all of a quarter), it now says, “Video is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly.”
As far as I’m concerned, with large, expensive, high profile content, the Google Video Store is a complete bust. However, it could very well be a great long tail video store, and could be a huge hit. I can’t wait for the long tail store to open; it could be a completely new sector in the internet economy.
Search, the big kahuna, gets an A-, losing points due to concerns that Google is running out of inventory, that growth can’t increase any more
Contextual ads scores C+, since Forbes doesn’t think its as popular as it could be (possibly), the fact that Google doesn’t make that much of a share of AdSense, and a lack of perceived growth for the platform
Google Local / Google Maps / Google Earth together earn a B+ grade, losing points only on the fact that monetization is taking time
Froogle sits in the corner with a D+, with its lack of popularity, lack of comissions from retailers, and slow development
Gmail squeeks in a C, hurting for lack of wide use and slow development (two years old this April!)
Google Base also gets a C, since few use it and there’s no money. GBuy should help
Google Search Appliance / Google Mini get a nice B, since they make money and are well-regarded. Forbes only regret: Google could dominate this market, if only it applied itself
Google Pack rates only a C-, since there’s no money there and no buzz
Google Video Store has to take home a C to mama, getting a bad grade for UI (compared to iTunes) and this analyst quote: “”Right now, I don’t think Google cares if anyone buys videos at the store or not”. Ouch!
Blogger can’t like its C-, something it earned for lack of interoperability, lack of updates, and the fact that it doesn’t earn a dime
Google Talk surprises with a shiny B-, Forbes recognizing its potential
So, grades of: A-B+BB-C+CCC-C-D+, do you think this Phd company is underperforming? Anyone want to calculate the GPA?
Looks like CBS is cutting out the middleman in the Google Video Store, announcing it plans to sell TV shows for $1.99 from its website. CBS hasn’t said it will pull out of Google Video, but I can’t imagine it taking less money just to use Google’s currently unpopular distribution channel.
Considering that, at this point anything is better than Google’s go-nowhere DRM, why would anyone buy the same videos for the same price with less options from Google? No word yet on what the DRM scheme will be. Videos will still be handicapped by the 24-hour day pass that makes them so unappealing on Google.
New episodes of the popular “Survivor” reality television series will be made available for download directly from CBS Corp.’s Web site for $1.99 per episode, a first in network TV, the company said on Wednesday.
Its latest plans gives the television network an option to use its own online properties to distribute shows rather than relying on other companies such as Internet company Google or Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iTunes service.
New episodes will be available shortly after midnight following the airing of new episodes on TV. Customers will be able to watch the episode for a 24-hour period after paying.
Once again Google has updated the video.google.com . It’s still very cluttered.
Now there are 24 small thumbnails with images from videos from the store, with a few links above them, and in the second (lower) half of the screen are larger thumbnails that list 4 popular clips and 4 random clips.
The links for the video store are: Movies - Music videos - TV shows - CBS - more from the store.
For the 8 larger thumbnails, no extra links have been inserted, except the ‘more from…’.
Brad Hill points out that Google Video’s home page now shows 24 little thumbnails of stuff you can purchase. I still don’t like the idea of putting TV shows (like CSI or NCIS) on the front page when there is only one episode, but this does make sense, and gives you the idea that the Google Video Store actually has some content.
Gary Price points to an article on the BBC News site and said it just might be an online bookstore for ebooks. This idea was floated past reporters and other invited guests in a post keynote backstage press conference last Friday night.
Nathan quoted Publishers Weekly on November 19th 2005 :
“AAP’s Allan Adler said if Google’s theory of fair use was adopted, it would put Google in control of other people’s content that it downloaded onto its own databases. While Google says it will use the scanned book content in a limited way, that could all change, Adler said.”
And indeed. If this bookstore rumor comes true, Adler just might be right on top of it with his prediction.
Is this smart? If you are Howard Stern, and you believe that you will make Sirius a huge success, wouldn’t you hold onto all your stock, thinking your success would help at least double the underperforming stock price?
Apparently, now that Google Video has a store, uploaders of all videos can see how many times they’ve been viewed. Also, Mahlon says his Google Videos get more views than his YouTube ones. Also, subscribed (RSS feed #203).
Well, there is one bright spot on Google Video this week: The film “Waterborne“, which one an Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival, is available on Google video, streaming for free for the first week and available as a $3.99 purchase. Even better, according to this news story, the film is available without any DRM, and can thus be burned to a DVD without any hacking.
Waterborne tells the story of the aftermath of a terrorist attack, the poisoning of the water supply of Los Angeles. Judging from the first seven minutes, it looks pretty good. It stars Chris Masterson (”Malcolm In The Middle”) and Jon Gries (”Napolean Dynamite”), and wins the InsideGoogle award for “First Thing Worth Buying From Google Video”.