The CNet article Striking up digital video search has stirred up quite a discussion today.

What struck me about the article is not the fact that Stefanie points at plans from each of the of the Big Three (Google, MSN, Yahoo). Yes, AOL is mentioned, but they don't seem to be in the search technology business. AOL strikes me as a company fumbling their way through this brave new world and attempting to stay relevant as the world moves to broadband.

Anyway, what really surprised me was the living room connection. Her article leads with:

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are quietly developing new search tools for digital video, foreshadowing a high-stakes technology arms race in the battle for control of consumers' living rooms.

Hmm. She goes on to talk about how we're all going to "bring TV to the web." And when you combine this with the idea of a "Netflix over broadband" service, an interesting picture starts to emerge.

It's funny. We've been hearing about brining this stuff to our couches and living rooms in various ways for years now:

  • Interactive TV (remember back in the pre-netscape Jim Clark/SGI days?)
  • Tivo and Internet-connected PVRs
  • Media Center PCs

But who'd have thought that we might arrive there with search technology pushing things along?

Not me.

Many of the right pieces seem to be close at hand. Some are technology and some are ideas that we're all buying into:

  • Interactive TV (remember back in the pre-netscape Jim Clark/SGI days?)
  • Tivo and Internet-connected PVRs
  • Media Center PCs
  • BitTorrent
  • Search as a commodity

It's going to be an interesting story to watch unfold.

Who is going to build the iTunes Music Store of the video world?

Posted by jzawodn at November 29, 2004 09:22 PM

Reader Comments
# Timboy said:

"Search as a commodity"... hmm, in what sense? I ask because the last time I heard that phrase was at Excite, when it was being used to justify lack of investment toward making search not suck. (This was just as Google was gaining traction.)

on November 29, 2004 10:09 PM
# amit agarwal said:

Nice article.

Amit @

on November 30, 2004 12:14 AM
# Konrad said:

I'm sure you've seen the stuff, but T-Online -- one of the big players in Germany and probably the largest DSL provider here -- now offers a dedicated client to download video streams over their DSL connections. It's available at all kinds of electronic shops and sets you back around 500 Euro, but they're most certainly in the early adopters stage.

The whole thing is called T-Online Vision and can be seen at the T-Online Vision website.

And from what I've seen, it's the child of TiVo and NetFlix.

on November 30, 2004 12:50 AM
# Marc Canter said:

Don't forget broadband and your friends at SBC - my friend.

Or the on-going nightmare of trying to get all this shit to work together. Video tutorials and Help will help solve that quagmire.

And identity is key, cause if you don't know who that viewer is, how can you pinpoint the right ads to them?

I used to be freaked over all the patents surrounding EPG (electronic program guides) but the world survived. The same about search.

Yes - search is ONE of the battlefields in the living room. But just getting everything to work together seems like a much bigger battle - IMHO.

Or explaining all this stuff to humans - so they'll buy it in the first place. If TiVO couldn't explain it, what hope do we have for anything else?

on November 30, 2004 01:23 AM
# rjp said:

Homechoice have been doing movies and TV over broadband for several years in London.

on November 30, 2004 01:39 AM
# Michael Moncur said:

I'm not sure if search is the answer to getting streaming video into the living room. It's a chicken-and-egg thing. Video search won't be useful until the content is out there (legally and consistently) to search...

Something like iTunes Music Store *is* the answer, though. Get Yahoo to build it, quick!

on November 30, 2004 12:54 PM
# Justin said:

Michael's conclusion is 100 per cent right - trouble is , you need to have, in my view anyway, a broadband connected HI-FI unit.

Well, not purely hi-fi,but an "everything unit" that plays dvds, does Tivo like hard disk recording, plays your old VHS tapes, has a radio tuner and plays (and burns) your CDs. Very simple on TV interface (but also controllable via an LCD display panel on the hi-fi thingy). It's also got wi-fi built in and you can dock your Ipod into it to download stuff onto it. Your Nokia phone can grab and send photos/video/music to and from this hi-fi unit as well.

Yeah - it's a PC (or Mac) - but not a PC - its marketed as the latest JVC/Sony blah blah Hi Fi thingy. That'll sell.

The trick is NOT to sell it as a computer (which is why this Microsoft Media Center thing will ultimately fail - Joe Six Pack doesnt want a computer in the living room - he just wants a hi-fi/tv recorder thingy)

Again - blabbing on, but if Yahoo/Google/Sony/whoever come up with a device like that , I'll buy it - and throw in the broadband subscription as well with a months free trial to iTunes.

It'll sell by the bucketload.

on November 30, 2004 03:14 PM
# said:

You mean something like this:

on November 30, 2004 09:47 PM
# Matt Goyer said:

Apparently AOL may be interested in the search business.. See Joe Wilcox's post about AOL's unveiling of the Singing Fish portal which is a search portal for audio and video.

on December 1, 2004 10:41 AM
# Andy said:

Nice article, I liked your site.. :) have a look at when you get time :)!

on June 12, 2007 04:16 AM
# Alan Sherin said:

Search is heating up! You are all spot on that the living room is the last battlefield and there will be many dead carcasses on the living room rug. As this digital convergence makes any TV act like an IP appliance, consumers will no longer have to wait for broadcasters schedules to TIVO what they want, They will simply search for it thru new online video search engines like Blinkx, Joost, and VeZoom. VeZoom is releasing a new personal search engine called myVeZoom and it can be tried by visiting

The myVeZoom personal video engine saves users the daily hassle of trying to find what online video interests them. I like it because MY myVeZoom page becomes a custom tailored video channels experience that updates dynamically. You can even create your own channel on the fly by entering a keyword. I finally have my own Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan Channels. They are always good for a laugh! Instantly your channel is generated right before your eyes! Very cool! I never have to search thru the millions of online video choices, they are right there on my own page when I need them.

on August 2, 2007 04:07 PM
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