Google has added another program to its Google Pack software suite, StarOffice, Sun’s office software suite that builds extra features on top of OpenOffice.org. StarOffice normally sells for $70, but the Google Pack is the first place you can get it for free, meaning Google pulled a nice string or two for users. Google didn’t use the already free OpenOffice.org, giving them a bit of an older version of the same codebase, but some value added elements and a supposedly more polished suite.
If you’re just looking to get StarOffice for free, this is a good way to do it, since you can de-select the other components of the Pack. If you were looking for an office suite that integrates with Google Docs (for offline editing), look elsewhere, because Google apparently didn’t think of that one. No Google Gears in this version of StarOffice? That’s a shame.
Google added Google Maps to Search History, so you can now track those searches. Maps joins web search, images, news and Froogle in Search History (how about Blog Search?).
Google and Yahoo are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to review the fees charged for stock quotes and other market data. The NYSE recently raised its fees, which make up 10-20% of its revenue, and the net companies want there to be a review of whether the fees are fair and reasonable.
Looks like Google disabled (and later reinstated) the AdSense account of Ionut Alex. Chitu, who writes the Google OS blog. The didn’t like that it had “google” in the blog URL, but after a little talk with some Googlers, the whole thing was sorted out an all was well. Gee, I hope google.blognewschannel.com has nothing to worry about…
Skype was added to the Google Pack. It is the second IM/VOIP client in the Pack, although it is used by most for phone service, while Google Talk is used more as for IM. Still, the two will likely be competitors in the future, so Google promoting Skype seems almost short-sighted.
Finally, Gmail has a bunch of new features. They include a link in the top right hand corner that drops down some handy options, and helps clean up the interface, notifications of new items in a conversation while you are replying to other items, as well as some new icons. There’s also a feature that “mutes” a mailing list by hitting the “m” key, sending future emails straight to the archive. Philipp points out, rightly so, that Gmail’s interface is suffering from overload, and needs a housecleaning.
From Adotas (Reuters):
Adobe Systems Inc. announced Wednesday that Google has agreed to pay the multimedia software maker a “significant” amount to distribute the Web search leader’s software, Reuters reports.
Adobe revealed that it has already begun distributing Google search software to new users of Adobe’s Shockwave multimedia playback software, which offers interactive programming such as games, entertainment, business presentations, and advertisements in a Web browser.
Additionally, Adobe confirmed on its site that the Google deal displaces a previous agreement it had with the latter’s main rival, Yahoo—which entailed Yahoo search software being delivered when users download new versions of Shockwave.
The pre-install deals also mark a change for Google, which, according to the report, historically has incurred little upfront cost to attract customers to its services. Google’s strategy instead was to share a portion of ad revenue with partners who drive traffic its way.
The new Adobe deal, though, calls for users to receive a free version of the Google Toolbar Web search software when they download Adobe’s Shockwave player for use with an Internet Explorer browser.
“We’re excited to partner with Adobe to make these features available to their users, and look forward to finding other ways to work together,” Google said in a statement.
Philipp already posted this on the 22nd, and points to the Adobe Press Release for more info
Google’s AdSense referrals program now has two new options: You can get $2 for every user who installs the Google Pack, and $1 for each Picasa install. You’ll need an AdSense account, and you can get the code on your referrals section on the AdSense Setup tab. I only hope that we don’t see even more crap spam sits built entirely a single referral button, but I’m not stupid; I know we will.
(via the AdSense blog)
Forbes gives Google grades on each of its courses, er services.
- 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?
Yesterday I noticed some changes while I was browsing some clips on the video.google.com site. Much more was going on behind the scenes, so SearchEngineWatch reports.
It’s now divided up into three categories.
1. Google Video Store (http://video.google.com/videostore)
2. Popular Video
3. Random Picks
Material from the Google Video Store can also be browsed by genre or show name, […] you can view a 30 second clip (no Google Video Player required) before making a decision if you want to purchase or rent the material. After you make your first purchase, you’ll be prompted to download the video player (if required) if it’s not already on your system. […] a new section Google Video FAQ offers info and assistance in downloading material and explanations of a buying a “Day Pass” for a video (24 hour viewing period) and purchasing a video. You can also read about how to tell if a video is copy-protected. […] (you can) quickly limit your results to free video or video for sale by just clicking. You can also click to sort by the length of the material (Long - Medium - Short). Results can be also be sorted by relevance, date uploaded, and title.
Most interesting part is where SEW point to an interview with Jennifer Feikin, Director of Google Video, on Marketwatch.com.
A remarkable PS :
Let me end this update by saying that I’ve now downloaded the video after paying $.99, installed the player, and still can’t watch the video. Why? It seems that at the moment (2 am EST) I’m unable get my Google account to authenticate so I’m unable to view the show. I keep receiving an error message. I’m told to go to video.google.com/support but I can’t find anything about authentication problems. Yes, I know, Google Video is a beta.
Okay…. that’s not that good at all, no? Or am I the only one who finds this wrong?
A lot more about this over at [SearchEngineWatch]
UPDATE : We Sat Around Waiting For Google Video And All We Got Was This? from TechDirt. Point well taken. Quote Mike : “Ouch.”
UPDATE : Check out Philipp’s review over at Google Blogoscoped for screenshots and all that…
When the Google Pack hit, it contained the Google Video Player, designed for use with the announced but not yet launched Google Video Store. Well, no more! Google has removed it, and any mention of it, from the Google Pack and its website. Undoubtably it will return when the store launches, and I bet the Google Updater will let you know you can get it, if you weren’t one of the few who did already.
There are good arguement for and against including the Video Player. Google could have included it, so there would be an installed base when the Video Store launched, and to ease website congestion. However, including it could confuse users who don’t understand why they have this piece of software that can’t play or do anything at all.
I agree with Google for pulling it, although I think it would have been better to leave it as an option, with a good explanation why it doesn’t work right now.
News.com streams for your viewing pleasure Larry Page’s Keynote.
In his Las Vegas speech, company’s co-founder and president of products said Google would sell some videos for as little as 99 cents.
9 minutes 8 seconds runtime. [Stream here]
We’ll get back to this in a few minutes and tell you much much more. Stay tuned.
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
http://pack.google.com/pack/pack_installer.html. The Google Pack will have:
- A version of Norton AntiVirus
- Adobe Reader
- Google Desktop Search
- Google Earth
- Google Talk
- Google Toolbar
- [Google?] screensaver
I call it the anti-Microsoft Pack:
- Internet Explorer
- Windows OneCare Live
- 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?