As rumored yesterday based on a Wall Street Journal article, Google Co-founder and President of Products, Larry Page announced today at CES06 a video download service called Google Video and a free Google Pack of software for end users. Details from the AP:
Google Inc. is upping the ante in the online video gold rush, allowing content owners to set their own prices in a bid to create a more flexible alternative to Apple Computer Inc.’s pioneering iTunes store.
Google’s video expansion, announced Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show, already has lined up commitments to sell thousands of downloads, including recent television broadcasts of popular CBS shows and professional basketball games, as well as vintage episodes from series that went off the air decades ago.
In a sign that content owners will likely pursue different approaches through Google Video, the National Basketball Association will sell broadcasts of its games one day after the event for $3.95. Meanwhile, public television staple Charlie Rose will post his interviews the day after a broadcast, allowing a free streaming for the first 24 hours then making it downloadable afterward for 99 cents each. Meanwhile, CBS is selling episodes of its popular “CSI” and “Survivor” series at the standard iTunes price of $1.99 per download.
Google also has their own copy protection scheme which does not extend to portable devices and will require the user to be online and use a Google player if the content owner decides to implement it. Example: CBS and the NBA will use it, but Charlie Rose won’t. More by following the link including a larger list of content and some commentary on the introduction of yet another copy protection scheme. The press release has more details as well.
Google Inc. is distributing a free software startup kit designed to make computing safer and easier — a generous gesture driven by the company’s desire to steer technology offline as well as online.
The software bundle, unveiled Friday in Las Vegas during a speech by Google co-founder Larry Page, represents the Internet search engine leader’s latest jab at industry kingpin Microsoft Corp.
Six of the programs in the package are owned by Google, which had previously offered all but one on a piecemeal basis. A screensaver that automatically displays pictures stored on a personal computer is being introduced for the first time as part of the “Google Pack.”
With the exception of a Norton antivirus program that is being offered in a free six-month trial, the seven other applications in the Google Pack are already available for free on the Internet.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has simply negotiated agreements to create a one-stop shop for all the applications, supplemented with tools to simplify the process for installing and updating the programs.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly exciting either. The press release has the full menu of software from which users can select what they want:
– Adobe Reader 7
– Ad-Aware SE Personal
– GalleryPlayer HD Images
– Google Desktop
– Google Earth
– Google Pack Screensaver
– Google Talk
– Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
– Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
– Norton AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition
Google Pack also includes Google Updater, a new tool that intelligently downloads, installs and maintains all the software in the Google Pack. Google Updater alerts users when updates and new programs become available and ensures each program is always up-to-date. Google Updater can also be used to monitor the status of installation, run software that’s been installed, or easily uninstall software.
To net it out, Google is providing a maintained software bundle that competes on the same terms as similar software provided by Microsoft. What Microsoft plans to charge for (OneCare) comes on the same basis in the Google Pack (Norton AntiVirus), otherwise everything is free just like Microsoft’s equivalents. If I had to name it, I would call it a “counterbundling strategy” and thereby the pricing has to be the way they have done it for it to have even a whisper of a chance. I suspect that’s about all it has, but time will tell.
Update: Download Google Pack at http://pack.google.com/.