Google has changed the way its More drop-down menu acts at the top of search results pages. Whereas before, the list was alphebatized and getting too long and out of control, the list is now ranked and split into two sections. The new setup:
As you can see, Google has moved Video, previously the second-to-last item on a very long menu, all the way to the top. This is likely in response to user complaints that Video, previously on the main menu (replaced by Shopping) was very hard to reach.
The other thing to note is that there is a singificant difference between the first and second sections. The items in the first section correspond to search engines, and whatever has been searched for on the page will be pre-entered into that search engine. Items in the second half are services, not search engines, and users will be taken to the service’s front page.
This change can be attributed to the confusing nature of the “YouTube” link in the More menu. Previously, Video and YouTube sat on top of each other. Hitting Video plugged the current search term into the Google Video search engine, while hitting YouTube brought the user to youtube.com and did nothing search-related. By seperating the list, Google warns the user beforehand, preventing the confusion and annoyance of the old behavior.
It’s also worth noting the link in the menu for “Photos”, which actually goes to Picasa Web Albums. Just name it Google Photos, willya?
As always, Google search is the big boy, with Google Images the only other vertical that performs spectacularly. However, strong growth in Google Maps and Gmail mean that the two have a shot of breaking out of the pack and joining those two.
In the third tier are Google News and Google Video, one growing slightly, one sinking slightly. Guess moving around Video and changing its focus every few months hurt Video, though not as much as you’d expect. The fourth tier has Books, Earth and Groups, which enjoyed moderate growth, Scholar, which sank 32% due to neglect, and iGoogle, which exploded and grew over 250%. iGoogle is Google’s success story for the year, which is great news for the struggling personalized homepage product category and Google’s Gadget developer ecosystem.
There are the also-rans at the bottom, including Blog Search, the Google Directory (shockingly still popular than many of the others), Google Talk (most neglected product of the year), Calendar and Finance. Google Product Search is Google’s biggest failure, losing 73% of its users from when it was Froogle. A year ago, Froogle had a good ten million unique visitors and a nice brand name, now it has maybe two million and two generic names. Google killed Froogle, and hurt itself badly with this one.
Missing from this list is another Google success story, Google Reader. This suggests that Reader, while disrupting the RSS market, is too small to make the list, or that comScore screwed up (since we know Reader had a ton of growth). Also: No Google Apps or Google Docs, no Blogger or YouTube or SketchUp or Desktop.
It’s important to note that, of the 17 Google products listed, the only ones being monetized are Web Search (#1), Gmail (#3), Google Maps (#4) and Product Search (to a very small extent). Not making any money are Images (#2), News (#5), Video (#6), Earth (for the most part), Groups, Books, iGoogle, Scholar, and any of the others. Google would love to monetize Images, News and Video, but the amount of content it doesn’t own in there makes it damn near impossible to do so and not get sued.
Now, I like Google Video, and I like the new features on the homepage. Still, for all we know Google will close the service next week or next month, and they seem to have no idea what to do with it at the moment, so why does the band keep playing?
You know what they say:
Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.
Wait, did I take my Titanic metaphors one step too far? Sorry.
Google has changed its “More” menu on search pages yet again, this time adding YouTube to the bottom of the list, just below the Video link. This is the first time Google’s search engine has ever acknowledged to its search engine visitiors that, yes, Google does own YouTube.
It also creates this weird conflict between the YouTube and Video links, which are sitting on each other. If you type a term into the search box and hit “More”, you can choose Video, and search a whole lot of internet video sites, or you can choose YouTube and also search video, but only search videos on YouTube.com.
On the one hand, Google is building a great video search engine and wants to promote it. On the other hand, Google wants to promote YouTube from its main search engine, its most popular property. For now, this two-state solution is going to have to be their means, at least until they come up with something better.
Google Video has been added to Google Alerts, letting you subscribe to email alerts of the latest videos featuring a keyword of your choice. Toss in a “site:” command, and you can get seperate alerts for YouTube videos, Metacafe videos, wherever you want to keep an eye on.
As Philipp points out, The links in these emails point exclusively to the page with the Google Video wrapper, so every time you click on one you get a page with Google video stuff in a frame at the top, which is getting really annoying. Google should give you an option in the preferences to turn the damn thing off, a benefit at the least for signed-in Google Account users.
Also, expect sploggers to begin using these alerts to create crappy spam blogs filled with videos, just like they’ve been doing for years with Google Web Alerts and News Alerts and Blog Alerts.
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.
Ionut Alex spotted a new ability of Google Video’s often-ignored closed captioning feature. Turns out you can attach multiple closed captioning files to a single video, and users can choose the one they want. In essence, you get to provide subtitles in multiple languages, if you’re willing to do the work, and a simple arrow next to the CC logo lets the user pick the right one for the job.
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?
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Google Acquires Aerial Image Firm, ImageAmerica
Google bought another company, this time ImageAmerica, an aerial imagery company. ImageAmerica provided the high-res imagery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and can be used to provide high quality imagery of any area in a hurry, an excellent boon for Google Earth/Maps. They’ve got a “Beech Starship” aircraft that can get into an area quickly, get high, fly fast and with great stability, and get great images for Google to use.
Google Maps Now Shows Popular Searches
Google Maps has a new feature that shows the popular searches for a particular area. Search for a city, town, state, or whatever, and you’ll find out what people are searching for in that area. For example, I know that in my area, people are looking for:
new york hall of science: administration
st johns university
flushing meadow park
While popular searches in Manhattan are:
madison square garden
YouTube Antipiracy Tool Coming This September
Google is expected to finally release YouTube’s antipiracy system this September, 10 months after buying the company, and many months after getting sued by Viacom and watching competitors take similar major measures at stopping the widespread uploading of copyrighted material. The technology will fingerprint videos so it can recognize when a previously deemed infringing video is uploaded again, and will allow copyright holders to embed a digital fingerprint in videos so the system will never let them be uploaded.
This couldn’t come a moment too soon. Google Video, which shares some of the same infrastructure as YouTube (when watching YouTube videos, I’ve seen them streaming from video.google.com) and presumably will share the same antipiracy system, is a hotbed of piracy. My wife and I have gotten some movies still in theaters from Google Video, something we normally never bother with, because it’s too damn easy to find.
Google Using Community To Grow Indian Maps
Google has decided that the best way to get good maps of India is to ask the locals for help. They’ve sent out GPS kits to some Indians, asking for their assistance in creating more accurate maps of the area, comparing the multiple data points for verification. The program has done 50 cities, complete with driving directions, using the GPS and special software that allows users to literally draw the roads on top of the satellite imagery.
DoubleClick Running Illegal AdWords Ads
Looks like future Google unit DoubleClick has been running some AdWords campaigns that break the terms of service. DoubleClick is running ads on Google search targeted to the term “AdBrite”, a competing web advertising company, actually using the competitor’s trademarked term in the ad copy. While Google has been embroiled in lawsuits protecting the advertiser’s right to target trademarked terms, it clearly bans the use of those terms in the ad itself. Someone should tell DoubleClick.
Take a look at Google Video’s top 100 videos, and you’ll see what appears to be a sea of hardcore pornography. It’s not, but it lets you know how many people are searching Google Video and YouTube for videos of naked women. Video after video features provocative titles like “sex hardcore xxx”, “arab sex”, “Youtube Sex” and “Thong Comes Off”, along with thumbnails that sometimes seem to have been taken mere seconds before some real sexy action starts off.
YouTube is partly to blame for this cluttering of their search results, letting users have too much control over which frame of the video is chosen as the thumbnail. It’s been known for a while which frame gets chosen by the system, and you can also choose from two others if you need to. Look through the top 100, and there are quite a few videos with completely inaccurate thumbnail frames. Why you would make it possible to manipulate the most important SEO portion of the video, I have no idea.
At least one blogger was fooled into thinking that the whole page was filled with hardcore porn. No, real porn gets removed from YouTube; fake porn clutters up the search results and ruins the user experience.
I find it hilarious that Getty Images is the worst obvious offender on the page, using sexy titles to sell stock video.
(via NoPornNorthhampton > Digg)
At least I found this video, which is pretty funny:
The National Legal and Policy Center has released a study looking at the illegal copyrighted movies available to watch and download on Google Video. The highlight of the study is a top 50 of copyrighted movies/DVDs available on Google Video, some that have been available for well over a year. They include full seasons of Ali G, Spider-man, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Miami Vice, Fahrenheit 9/11, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, and many more. I’ve embedded a few below so you can sample the offences.
Engadget reports that Google Video is working out quite nicely for iPhone users. While video can’t be watched on Google Video, and embedded Google Videos don’t work as well, because of the iPhone’s lack of Flash support, Google Video is the rare video service that lets you download the videos. You can download most videos, but not all, and get them in “iPod/PSP” format, and play them in the iPhone’s video player. Pretty convenient, and just another reason I like to upload videos to both YouTube and Google Video.
Two things I’m wondering:
What does Google gain by building these applications for the iPhone? I mean, two of the best and unique things on the iPhone are the improved Google Maps application and YouTube, and in the case of YouTube, Google is giving up bandwidth from a money-losing service, in a method that makes even less money than the standard website!
Why hasn’t Adobe gotten Flash on mobile devices? Flash was going to become the de-facto standard for easy internet video, but the lack of Flash on smartphones is forcing YouTube to re-encode into H.264. I think Adobe just missed their chance, big time.
Do you like the Google Video frame? You know, the one that appears above anything clicked from Google Video search results, letting you tab through search and related results, but also eating up a lot of screen real estate? Well, MySpace doesn’t like it. Click a video on MySpace Video, and the top frame will load, but when the MySpace page loads at the bottom, it takes over the page and redirects you to the MySpace page, sans Google Video frame.
Doesn’t look like MySpace does it for Images, and it could just be a bug, or a general workaround for framed pages, but I’m sure Google doesn’t love it. I wonder if they have an agreement with MySpace over the video indexing that includes the frame.
Blogger has launched a new platform for beta features they are testing, calling it Blogger in Draft. Blogger in Draft is how they can release new features that aren’t quite ready yet, giving users a chance to try out what they are working on. Not only is it cool, it shows us that indeed Blogger has grown up and is again a live platform with active development and new features. Thank god, because a little while back, I was calling Blogger dead and chastising Google for letting it happen.
The first Draft feature (announced on the Blogger in Draft blog) is video uploading, letting you hit a button while writing a post to choose a video and upload it to Google Video.
Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has been in the news this past weekend because his latest film, “Sicko”, about the U.S. health care industry, has been leaked to torrent sites and file-sharing networks, two weeks ahead of its June 29 theatre release date. Well, the situation is just a little bit worse, because those afraid of prosecution or just too lazy or without the technical skills to use Bit Torrent can even watch the movie on Google Video, and have been able to for the last four days.
If you can still play the movie above this paragraph, that means Google has yet to take down the two hour three minute unreleased motion picture, practically the most visible example of modern internet movie piracy. For Mr. Moore’s sake (not related to his political opinions, but rather any filmmaker’s ability to sell a film to audiences), I hope it doesn’t last too long. As is, you can watch it at Google Video, embed it in a blog, or even download the entire video as a 722 megabyte AVI file.
What a mess.
Does it seem like Google Video takes longer to remove copyright infringements than other services, even Google’s own YouTube?
Just noticed a Grouper video in the results for Google Video, which means Google is now indexing Grouper videos as well as its own, YouTube, and MetaCafe. The index keeps growing. Nice. Google doesn’t play the videos in the search results, like it does with other sites, but I’m sure the extra traffic will make Grouper happy.
Another thing: Click on search results in Google Video, and you are taken to a split page like the one used by Google Images, with Google Video placing a bar at the top with related videos, arrows to page through search results, email sharing, and the page with the video taking up the bottom 80% of the screen. I think a lot of people are going to find this annoying. Hopefully, Google will let you set a preference to turn the frame off.
Google Video now indexes Google Video itself, YouTube and MetaCafe, with more sites set to be added in the future. The real question, though, is how many in total? Haochi tried to find out by running a number of searches, and running those same searches plus a few extra, the biggest number I’ve gotten Google Video to admit indexing is:
However, if you use the site: command, Google divides the indexed videos by site, and you get: