I’ve confirmed that Monday Google will launch an in-browser video playback feature based on the open source VLC media player. This is the logical next step for Google’s video search and upload function, which began taking uploads from anyone who cared to submit back in April.
Google will not disclose the raw numbers of videos that have been uploaded to date, but the company will make all those which were tagged as “free” available for real time streaming through the VLC player, which Google has modified and will make available for download Monday morning. The company also intends to make its VLC code available to the open source community as part of their Google code project.
The video will be searchable via the meta data provided by the submission process (no, there’s no PageRank for video, yet).
Now, before we start discussing how this represents the Death of Comcast/The Networks/Windows Media Player et al, this is not quite that, but it is the start of something big. For one, it’s clear this will be integrated with the Google payment program which was revealed to be in process last week. Plenty of folks uploaded video to Google with a payment option, and that has yet to roll out, but you can expect that it will.
Secondly, this is a big deal for many institutions which do not have the ability to host and stream their own video, but would very much like to get their message out. In essence, Google is providing their infrastructure free of charge to let anyone upload video and have it be found. That’s a very big deal in and of itself.
Third, this is clearly a shot across Microsoft’s bow. The Windows Media Player is a standalone application, rife with its own DRM and entanglements with Hollywood. Many once claimed IE would never fall, but Firefox has shown what the open source community can do with some good code and the support of a dedicated user base. I’m pretty sure that once Google’s VLC implementation is stared at by enough folks, a stand alone player with hooks into Google Video search and many others will not be far behind.
Fourth, this will help the spread of an alternative universe for video distribution and playback, one independent of the walled garden business model in which video is currently locked. I’ve ranted on this before, but I do believe that the sooner independent voices have an outlet for their work, and a business model to pay for it, the sooner we’ll see content creators revolt from the hegemony of cable and studio models (and perhaps we can finally begin to have a cut and paste video culture….)
More on this as it develops…
Update: I neglected to mention that all the video in the “free” category has been “human scanned” for adult content and copyright violations, I’m told by a good source.