Now, I have some suggestions on this one! John Battelle just announced that Google will launch an in-browser video playback feature based on the open source VLC media player. That should be very interesting for both content creators and the people making media center software.
Google have some plans
They have already launched their video search function and made available a video upload function. They are working on a payment system and now they will announce a player. According to John Battelle they will also include their player in the open source program called Google Code. In other words, the system will be open for people to make all kinds of players and boxes utilizing the content that builds up in the Google video archives. That will also lead to systems that can read video from both Google and other video distribution systems.
Considering the way a media center has accelerated my use of high quality video from my computer, a media center front end to Google Video would be very interesting. Because of Google’s open approach, I guess someone will make that kind of frontend for Google Video quite fast. Including a plugin for Microsoft’s Media Center Edition.
VLC Media Player is by far the most platform independent media player out there. The only problem is the fact that it could seem slightly difficult to set up and the GUI itself a bit too complicated for the average user. A version from Google could fix this. Use the very powerful core in the VLC Player and build a user friendly interface on top of it.
The fact that the VLC player is platform independent should also make it very interesting for large content producers and public broadcasters. Quite a bit of the dedicated set top boxes for TV out there run Lunix as the operating system. To make a frontend for Google Video on a cheap set top box seems to be an interesting option as well.
But what about content?
Huge amounts of crap from individuals all over the globe is not something that will draw a big audience. Considering the quite paranoid approach the big studios have when it comes to online content I think this will be a big challenge for this project. Of course it could be a big oportunity for indie and long tail content, but what about Hollywood and the block busters? Could this at some point help prevent situations like this? The question of DRM will be interesting in this setting.
The ultimate solution
Now, let’s combine some solutions. We know that bandwidth will be a problem. Even for Google. Unicast streaming of high quality video to huge amounts of people is expensive and difficult. And, even if Google could make the fattest pipe ever out of their servers and distribute mirrors all over the world, they will still face parts of the network that they can not control. An option where you actually download the clip and watch it from your hard drive would be interesting. In other words:
Google Video + TVTonic
Then, having Google Video nicely integrated with the rest of my content would be nice. As already mentioned, a media center frontend will show up sooner or later. Fine. Google Video from the remote in the living room. But I have been writing about placeshifting here before. I want the Google Video content available fast and easy from the interface I use when travelling. Today I use ORB to reach my content from all my devices. So:
Google Video + ORB
…or… the VLC Player also includes a streaming server. Could this be some serious competition for ORB? I have Google Desktop Search already installed on my computer. So, what if Google expands desktop search to help me get my content available on other devices. And I repeat: VLC Media player is multi platform already…
I will follow this closely. Both because of my general interest for these issues and because of my profession as a project manager for the development department of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.
This news story from John Battelle has also reached BoingBoing, and Thomas Hawk has an interesting addition: he wants the Internet Archive in his Media Center as well. And he is not alone! That would be great. What if Google added all the content from the Internet Archive in their system?