By Rob Scott
April 13, 2011
Computer scientist, technology pioneer and chief Internet evangelist at Google, Vint Cerf addresses the current state of innovation in the U.S. and what he sees as the necessary steps in moving forward.
Cerf suggests our educational programs are deteriorating and that our culture places more emphasis on entertainment and sports figures than it does on scientists and engineers. To foster innovation, he sees a need to revitalize our K-12 educational system, create national recognition for scientific achievement, and devise an effective plan for attracting the best talent from abroad.
In his essay published in The Wall Street Journal this week, the Internet pioneer cites Japan, Spain, Norway and Sweden as examples of nations that “shine a much brighter national spotlight on international science and technology breakthroughs.”
In addition to a new national spotlight, Cerf promotes a hands-on educational approach that focuses on search and discovery rather than memorization of facts. He calls for increased interaction with groups such as the FIRST robotics program and Google’s Global Science Fair. According to Cerf: “By elevating interest in math and science, we will foster the innovation and ingenuity that will move this nation forward into a better future.”
By Rob Scott
April 10, 2011
According to the YouTube Blog, the popular video site has officially launched its beta version of YouTube Live — the possible next step in turning YouTube into a competitive TV streaming site. YouTube has live streamed concerts, sporting events and interviews in the past, but YouTube Live has the potential to be something much more significant that could grab the attention of broadcasters, advertisers and social media experts.
The blog announcement explains: “With over 2 billion views a day, it’s easy to think about YouTube as a place to watch videos recorded in the past. But you’ve told us you want more — and that includes events taking place right now…”
Although the announcement does not include the special celebrity channels touted in the press of late or any mainstream content yet, it does describe some basic information such as a browse page of live and upcoming events, interaction with users’ customized pages for channel subscription alerts, and YouTube’s plans for a “gradual rollout” of the live streaming beta platform.
The potential success of YouTube partners streaming live from their own channels may largely depend on the amount and type of content, as well as the social interaction between users and fellow streamers. However, it is clear that with the YouTube Live platform in place, Google is setting the stage for bigger ticket items, such as “broadcasting” professional content and global news and events.
Related Digital Trends article: “YouTube Live debuts as its overhaul continues” (4/8/11)
Related Wall Street Journal article: “YouTube Recasts for New Viewers” (4/7/11)
By Rob Scott
April 4, 2011
The battle for control of Google’s phone/tablet OS continues to heat up. In this Bloomberg Businessweek article, developers complain about Google’s increasing demands for control over how its supposedly “open source” Android platform is deployed. One protester says he just cut a deal with Microsoft because he feels Windows Phone 7 offers more opportunity to innovate (he is, at this point, in the minority, as well as a former MS employee, but it pays to keep an eye on the outliers).
Bloomberg reports that Google has recently reached out to carriers and manufacturers that want to implement its mobile operating system with a message: “There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview. From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.”
Perhaps the most telling bit of information in this story is that Android’s share of the smartphone market grew, “from 9 percent in 2009 to an industry-leading 31 percent worldwide.”
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like Android in terms of gaining share,” explained Bill Gurley, general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.
Although there are grumblings from various tech companies, and rumors of complaints to the Justice Department, Bloomberg explains that the Android OS is still open — “it’s just getting more heavily policed.”
By Rob Scott
April 3, 2011
CNN reports that the debate regarding whether Google is a media company or tech company — a publisher of content or indexer of content — may soon be over, as the company prepares to morph YouTube into an online “studio system” for a new era of content production. CNN suggests Google is already a media company, but the question should more accurately address what kind of media company; perhaps “one that operates by the economics of the Internet, with no legacy ties to the economics of television, movies, or publishing.”
In recent months, Google has been investing heavily in its YouTube division, including: the hiring of content execs from Netflix and Paramount, recent acquisitions to enhance its current quality of offerings, plans to reportedly spend $100 million on developing new celebrity “channels,” and more. Google hopes to expand YouTube’s dominance in the UGC market to include niche programming and mass entertainment.
Of course, what makes the online video resource unique in terms of serving as a content provider, is that it has very little overhead. As compared to other media companies that are more directly involved in actual production, YouTube’s marginal costs are nearly zero. Advertising revenue is earned the same way whether viewers are clicking on a cute video about someone’s cat — or a professional basketball game (Google is in talks with the NBA and NHL to show live games on YouTube).
YouTube also enjoys the potentially infinite number of specialty channels the Internet provides, an approach that is not practical for cable. It may not matter from day-to-day which channels do well and which do not. As long as YouTube makes the platform available, the content can regularly evolve.
By Rob Scott
April 3, 2011
In the ongoing battle between two tech giants, Microsoft claims that Google is stifling competition in Europe where Google controls approximately 95 percent of the online search market. Microsoft also alleges that Google is limiting data from YouTube and other services. The Los Angeles Times reports that Microsoft Corp. plans to file a formal antitrust complaint against Google Inc., as part of the European Commission’s investigation launched last November.
This is the first time Microsoft has filed such a complaint against a rival.
“Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to ‘organize the world’s information,’ but we’re concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative,” wrote Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith online. “We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market.”
According to Smith, Google is limiting data from YouTube required to properly display search results for Microsoft’s Bing and other search engines. And while iPhones and phones running Google’s Android software have no problems with YouTube, Smith claims Google has blocked phones running Windows software from interacting properly with YouTube.
“These allegations raise important competition concerns, especially in light of Google’s market share,” Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin said, “and we’ll examine them more closely as we prepare for our antitrust hearing.”
By Rob Scott
March 9, 2011
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is investigating whether MPEG LA is unfairly trying to “smother” a free alternative format for delivering online video backed by Google.
Google’s open source VP8 video codec has been a concern for the MPEG LA organization, which has amassed patents covering popular video formats and collects royalties for its members, including Apple and Microsoft.
Video-streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube — as well as makers of Blu-ray Disc players and other hardware — currently pay patent royalties to MPEG LA. The antitrust probe is investigating whether MPEG LA or any of it members are attempting to knock out Google’s VP8 format by creating legal uncertainty regarding potential patent violations. WSJ suggests the probe “pits Google and open-source software advocates against some technology giants like Apple” — and raises interesting issues about the broadcast of online video in HTML5 and the future of content delivery.