Thursday, January 19, 2006

Unfounded Google speculation

The other week I posted a fairly comprehensive list of all the features that Google currently offers. There's always speculation on what Google is going to do next, I'm going to write briefly about a couple of things that I would like to see Google get into. (Of course, all of this is completely unfounded and just my thoughts.)

Google Audio
Well, we already have Google Video. It doesn't sound as useful as it really is, in my opinion. First of all, Google now have a pay service similar to what's also being offered in the iTunes Music Store: selling DRM'd downloads of TV shows, etc. through the Google Video Store. There was quite a bit of controversy over their announcement to use their own brand of DRM in the videos.

However, Google Video is a great way to distribute video in a lot of cases. First off, Google hosts the files, which basically means free bandwidth. (BitTorrent limits the amount of bandwidth used by the original "server", but it's still not as good as getting Google to do it for you for free.) Second, their Flash player is mint. It has all the features you should really need for playing web videos, it loads fast and streams the content pretty much without skipping, at least for me. The main reason I use it is to get lower-quality re-encodes of some of the more popular "videocasts" on the internet, like Systm. I can stream those shows straight from Google, without having to download them and delete them when I'm done - and the total file size is significantly smaller (I'm not overly concerned about getting the best quality from most of these vidcasts).

So, what I think we need is Google Audio, and frankly, I'm surprised they didn't either release this before Google Video or integrate it with it, making Google Media or something. First off, it would be a nice way for some people to distribute podcasts (for example, if you like to listen to them on the PC rather than actually loading them onto an iPod or similar, streaming is probably a better way to go). It would also be nice to have an easy way to search for audio, and I don't mean pirated mp3s but things like free sound effects (for amateur games, video editing et cetera), quotes, and such. Finally, it would pretty much mean that there is no longer a reason to use AllTheWeb, though I don't know how significant a competitor they are. (Yes, I am aware of using filetype:mp3 et al, but a separate audio search with 10-second previews and in-browser watching like Google Video would be very nice.)

Google Wallet
I know I'm definitely not the first one to think of this, whereas I haven't really seen much interest in the Google Audio idea, I know there are a lot of people that want something from Google (or indeed, any other company would be nice too) that replaces PayPal.

There are a few reasons for this. First, PayPal sucks. has a whole slew of reasons why, and if that's not enough to convince you, try this article on SomethingAwful on the whole PayPal fuckup they experienced while collecting donations.

Secondly, any competition in the market is good. I still would like to see some sort of functional service dealing in micropayments.

Oh well, here's hoping. Hey, all those people waiting for Google IM were shot down, but then Google brought out Google Talk...

For more unfounded Google-related speculation, check out GoogleRumors. (Here's an article on "Google Wallet".)

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