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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google adopts smarter approach to shutting down Google Video

Everyone (me included) thought Google was taking a brain-dead approach to shutting down the paid content area of Google Video.

Now, they've admitted that they goofed with the shut-down strategy, and are offering all customers a refund for videos they purchased, and will ensure that those videos play for an extra six months before shutting the service down entirely. That makes a lot more sense.

What's the underlying lesson here? People are buying digital video in all sorts of formats -- at Google, it was in their own home-grown format, at Apple, it's video wrapped in Fairplay DRM, at Real it's in their RealVideo format, etc. etc.

More and more, I think that what will make online video take off is a single, very portable format with different degrees of DRM that can be turned on or off. Would everyone in the US have bought VCRs or DVD players if the format differences with videotapes or discs hadn't been resolved?

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  • Of course, the other lesson to be learned here, is that any company that uses DRM is in danger of making the music or video you buy unplayable. If one of them goes out of business, you've got no recourse, if they're DRM solution is to "phone home" every now and then.

    By Blogger Norman, at 7:39 PM  

  • I think the concept of DRM to work needs to be implemented as a truely open standard.

    Imagine: the portability of MPEG for video and audio and SSL encryption of data. When you buy the content you are buying the decryption key that will forever let you decode that file.

    Then at least if you upgrade your computer, or get a new hard drive you can manage your own media keys.

    By Blogger Matt Connolly, at 11:31 PM  

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