Google Video and the Swaggartization of Tech Titans

Google is now admitting that it screwed up the much ballyhooed launch of Google Video by not adequately promoting all the great free TV shows that could be bought, downloaded and watched in a tiny box on your iPod or computer. Somehow things would have been different if all those free shows for sale had been pasted all over the Google Video homepage.

Well, friends, now there are links to Brady Bunch and I Love Lucy episodes right there on the homepage. Buy as many as you want for $1.99 a piece. Or you can tune into TV Land any night of the week and watch them on your TV for free.

There’s also a link to the CSI-Name any City show that anyone who cares has already seen. You can buy it and watch it for a whole day for $1.99. That’s right, a whole day.

But it’s just cooler to watch them on your computer. Right.

Steve Rubel points out that this is the week for tech titans to fall all over themselves admitting their mistakes and promising to do better. He also says that smart people knew all along that Google was blowing it. He cites an article from January 10 questioning the announcement and content of Google video. Steve must have missed my post of January 6 where I asked if anyone was going to line up to pay to watch repeats of boring NBA games and otherwise free TV shows on their computers.

I don’t think the homepage has all that much to do with it. I just don’t think anyone wants to buy much of what they’re selling.  For this to get legs, there will have to be a lot of stuff there ain’t right now.  Fat, cheap pipe; better hardware on the receiving end to manage; and enough content providers to let you cut the cable.  Among other things.

I can see a modest market for downloadable, DRM-infested video courtesy of frequent travelers who need something to watch while on planes and in airports. I use Movielink for just that purpose. So while people might want to download something to watch on the plane or train, how many people will do that regularly? My guess: very few.

For one thing, it’s a little hard to watch a video on a laptop or iPod, even on a long flight. I know, because I sometimes watch movies on my Tablet PC on long flights. But more often than not, I end up turning off the movie and reading a book or sleeping. Plus, people don’t like to pay twice and all of us already have access to these shows via our TVs and TIVOs. Finally, how many long distance commuters (a) prefer watching I Love Lucy to sleeping, talking or staring out the window and (b) have the means and methods to find, download and play I Love Lucy on their iPods or laptops?

I’ll say it again: Other than the occasional lottery scam video, I just don’t get the whole downloadable video thing.  Maybe one day, but not today.

I think someone’s trying to create a market for a demand that doesn’t exist.

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