Archive for category Google

YouTube Movie Rentals

There is a rumour that YouTube i.e. Google is about to launch a movie rental service. As grand and nice this might be in Google’s executives’ heads they are about to be rudely awaken by the reality of the entertainment industry. As it stands, cable operators all over the world are looking into providing on demand movie rental service of some sort. Even if Google manages to get the content rights holders on board with their little scheme they will run into some serious problems with other content providers. Since, in quite a few cases your cable operator is also your ISP Google is going to get blocked all over the place just like they did with GoogleTV. For whatever reason, Google refuses to admit that Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs was indeed very much on the money when he said that creating a TV streaming service/device is a bag of hurt and it comes with some serious challenges which currently cannot be easily overcome. The YouTube service will compete in price no doubt. Well that will not go well with a lot of other providers. And at the end of the day, if I am going to use my computer to watch content, then why on earth would I pay for it when there are countless free sources that I can choose from. Yes 1080p is great but Google seems to forget that most laptop screens (i.e. over 1/4 of all computer screens out there do not actually support a 1080p resolution). On top of that you have another 1/3 of all computers in the world being in household which cannot afford to pay for online content or simply refuse to pay for such. And as a result Google will have to work with a much much smaller group of potential users than they think. Yes youtube is popular but how much of that is due to the fact that it is a free service?

I hate to be a pessimist but I think this would be yet another project that Google might have to scrap eventually.
There are some rays of light however. An increasing number of TVs are coming with a YouTube viewer and that would allow people to rent movies straight from their TV provided that the ISP is not allowed to block the content. However, the player that TVs use might not always be compatible with the latest and greatest of YouTube and would probably need modifications in order to allow for the rented content to play. YouTube will have to introduce a modified player as the current one allows for the content to be downloaded to your computer and played without any restrictions. That would not go well with movie studios. Updating the software on your TV will literally take eternity and I would bet you money that most users don’t even know that your TV software can be updated or that your TV actually does run an operating system. One of the hardest and most expensive things for a company is educating their customers.

It would be interesting to see how the new rental service stacks up in such a complex environment and I honestly hope that I am wrong about it’s future. And for what it’s worth I really hope that Google is not pitching this as an on demand service for computer users and that they have indeed looked at what cable operators currently do.

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Recap of MWC 2011

I’ve been away for a week or so. I went to Mobile World Congress and I just needed a long weekend after that. There have been a lot of in the press about the event however, it seems like quite a few things got missed.

Nokia adopting Windows Phone 7 pretty much overshadowed everything else. I had the chance to attend the Nokia analyst event on Monday morning so here is what was not covered in the press. Nokia is adopting WP7 because they desperately need to reduce OPEX. Effectively what this means is that Nokia is content with the idea that they are never going to be as big as they were. The gold days are over and now they have to scavenge whatever is left from the wrecked ship. There are no talks about expanding market share. It is all about stopping the decline and maybe retaining the existing market share. Windows is being adopted because it reduces OPEX and because as it is, turning Symbian in to a smart phone OS would take too much money. I personally doubt very much that that is the case but that’s just me. For me, Nokia is chopping off their nose to spice up their face but hey we’ll see how it works out for them.
A lot of people are upset that Nokia did not pick Android but here are the facts about Android. Motorola aside, Android is the OS of the Far East. East Asian OEMs are the ones selling Android phones and Nokia cannot compete with any of them when it gets to OPEX. They desperately had to get out of that market and despite what WSJ says Android was actually never close to adoption. A statement like that seems uneducated and overly enthusiastic.

Here is the ugly side of the deal. Nokia is giving up Ovi maps. Yes Ovi Maps never brought the company any direct sales but it was one of the selling points for Nokia phones for years. Nokia has agreed to give the Ovi maps content to the Bing so now certain, or all Bing content will be powered by Ovi maps. It is not clear at the moment, but the difference might be that Ovi maps run from the phone on Nokia and off the web with other phones, but essentially they are the same maps. However, given the tone of the analyst briefing, Nokia Windows phones will be very very similar to any other WP7 phone and more likely than not, they all will have the same version of Bing Maps. It was not discussed why Nokia chose to give up so much, but there were talks about supposed revenue sharing with MS.

Symbian is not going anywhere. It will stay on smartphones (low end ones) until Nokia and MS figure out a way to put WP7 on them. Symbian will also power all the feature phones for as long as they exist.

RIM was a complete disappointment. No new phones and nothing to show so they rented out their own booth to software providers. Oh and the tablet is an utter disappointment. It has a small screen and apparently the whole interface was written in Flash. Really Flash! It runs OK and they were showing off some games, but the device is strictly consumer oriented. I don’t care what the press says, this is not a corporate device unlike iPad. I was amazed to see so many people at WMC using iPads actually. Looking back, it is a bit like when mobile phones hit the streets. Almost everyone had one and it was the same with iPads.

HP had a very nice demonstration of devices. WebOS is truly great but I am not sure if it can make it. There are simply too many competitors. Oh and HP has skipped NFC … what were you thinking. The touchstone does not use NFC but rather a proprietary standard, as if we needed another.
But to be fare the devices are nice and I hope HP gets to release them soon.

All the new Android devices are absolutely pitiful. The interface is slow and when you consider that they are running crazy fast chips compared to my iPhone 3GS it makes them look even slower. Also the new LG phones kept locking up constantly and there is no way in hell that I am buying a device like that. 3D displays are mostly a gimmick unless you have one of the Sharp phones that Docomo sells. Those actually work well.

Overall there was a bit of a confusion over NFC and we got a lot of conflicting statements. It seems like operators and suppliers of NFC chips cannot make up their mind whether embedded NFC is a good or a bad thing. But this will sort itself out by next year.

What was really amazing is to see small software developers being represented at MWC. You have 5 man outfits churning huge profits and being able to afford the entrance fee and this is simply unheard of in an industry that is basically pinching pennies. That said, Huawai was spending money like it was the end of days. By the looks of it. it was the company with the biggest show budget and this is hardly an exaggeration. But then again when you pay hardly anything to most of your workers and expect then to work well over 12 hours a day you can afford to splurge every once in a while.

Oh yeah Qualcomm had a little show and tell about Mirasol … unfortunately the portable light was dead but that was hardly the only problem. The demo was basically a video running in a loop and was exactly the same as the last one we saw. Yes the device is light and thin but Mirasol displays are like the display on my sister’s truly ancient GBA. Only when Nintendo released GBA, expectations were a lot lower and we both didn’t care that an addon light was needed to play it in the dark. No offence to Qualcomm but the market for a Mirasol display is shrinking very fast. But you never know. Maybe Amazon can make it a success despite the small size.

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Google TV dead on arival

ABC and CBS have announced that they are blocking Google TV devices from accessing their free online streaming service. The reason is alleged security concerns however, you can read between the lines. A colleague of mine recently published a press release saying the he believe Apple TV is doomed because of Google’s competition but I really like to see his face when he find out about the ban. What surprises me is that Google has taken this college student approach to product design and decided to go over the heads of TV studio executives. Plus if studios are refusing a $1 per episode watching fee than why on Earth would they ever let anyone watch the programming for free? Also Google seems to forget that the way you make money online most of the time is through advertising. This is exactly what is keeping them afloat. Yes you can still advertise with a flash streaming service but just go to any US TV website and count the number of adverts that come up …

 

Unless Google really steps up Sony is about to loose a huge amount of money and all the rest of the TV manufacturers sitting on the fence will never touch a google tv device. A move like that could even hurt Android so Google it’s your move now …

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