Organize the world’s information. That was the initial mission of Google, so I have found it ineresting that the company has taken significant steps (like buying YouTube and launchin Knol) to host and distribute it.
You see, there’s a big difference between organizing information for easy search… and actually hosting it with ads.
In a non-trivial move, YouTube today announced that it’s offering a new pay-for-download service (using Google checkout, of course) which allows viewers to buy and download select creators’ videos.
While this may not seem like a significant move, it’s actually the start of a major threat to Apple’s iTunes and other cable and phone providers — as well as any comany that charges flat or variable fees for video distribution.
Content owners will participate (I know I will when invited) and viewers will use it (and I know I’ll buy select content). Then, friends, Google/YouTube is just one step away from making my AppleTV and Verizon Fios obsolete… it just needs to create or sanction Google player boxes that allow us to surf from my television set without the monthly fee of a cable service. And based on Android, that’s not far away. It’s content ala carte… just the way I’d like it.
I currently live on my Apple TV because I like surfing YouTube and Apple’s easy navigation for buying TV shows and movies. I’ve bought more movies and television shows in the past two months than in the 3 years prior. The Verizon Fios highspeed boxes, by contrast, are horrible, slow, and cost me a cursed monthly rental beyond my regular plan. So I long for the day I can return these boxes, and go web only. Of course I still need cable service for my kids, and for access to whatever select television shows we watch regularly (almost never live). But many of these shows are now available on Alec Baldwin’s Hulu.com, which could be accessed with an AppleTV-like box.
I can’t believe there’s a device for viewing web video on my TV available at Best Buy for $199.00. There will be in 2010, and there are some limited devices here reviewed by DeviceGuru.
Manufacturers I beg you… work with Google and create the killer Cable TV busting device. Consumers will love it, content creators will get wider distribution and revenue, and we can stop pretending we need Comcast or Verizon television. Sorry, I’m not a big fan of middle men that get greedy with high fees, poor service and rented boxes. And I trust Google to run all of this reasonably — at least more than I do my cable or phone service.
Naturally, a competitor would ensure that Google doesn’t have a complete monopoly on web distribution, but I’ll let the FCC worry about that.