As expected, Google Inc. launched a new video download service during a keynote by co-founder and President Larry Page at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Friday.
The service, called Google VideoStore, allows consumers to buy and download video content from providers such as CBS Broadcasting Inc. and the National Basketball Association (NBA) from its Web site.
The service will act as a marketplace and lets the content providers decide in what capacity and for how much they want to sell their content, Page said. "Content producers are in charge and they can decide if they want the videos for rental, download or other things," he said.
Google also unveiled the Google Video Player for playing the videos, as well as other content deals with Independent Television News, The Charlie Rose Show, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Classic Media Inc., HDNet, PorchLight Entertainment Inc.
The Google Video service has been around for about a year, but only as a way to search television programming and upload video content onto the Internet, Page said.
Internet-centric companies such as Google, Yahoo Inc., Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are providing the means for consumers to download and purchase television video, as well as movies, to be played on PCs and handheld devices. An array of the latest in portable video devices were on display at CES this week.
Published reports had leaked word of Google's plans to introduce a video download service prior to Page's keynote, and Google itself provided a major hint by giving every attendee a backpack that contained a T-shirt that had "Google Video" printed on them.
The backpack itself, which was emblazoned with a logo called "Google Pack," also was a hint as to what Page would unveil during his keynote. He introduced a new package of free software, available for download at http://pack.google.com, to provide users with a basic set of applications for using the Internet on a computer.
Google Pack allows users to download Mozilla Firefox, Ad-Aware SE Personal, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, Picasa, Google Earth and Adobe Reader 7.
Known for its quirky, innovative culture, Google did not disappoint in its first keynote appearance at CES. Page rode out on the back of a robot car built by Stanford University students, wearing a white lab coat and blue jeans. He also used his time on stage not just to stump for Google services but also to promote social issues that are personally important to him, such as universal Internet connectivity and a $100 laptop program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide inexpensive computers to children in countries that have limited Internet access.
Google also demonstrated that in its role as Internet powerhouse, it has access to major media power to drive its new services. CBS President Les Moonves appeared to promote the CBS deal. To highlight the deal with the NBA, which allows all NBA games to be purchased and viewed 24 hours after they are broadcast, Kenny Smith, former NBA player and commentator on the U.S. TV show "Inside the NBA" joined Page briefly on stage
But actor and comedian Robin Williams made arguably the most memorable celebrity appearance at the keynote. Williams first appeared as a so-called live human search experiment, with the softspoken Page feeding him search keywords as Williams rattled off associated content for search keywords wearing a multicolored gadget as a hat.
In addition to the new Google VideoStore and Video Player, Page demonstrated and introduced other Google inventions during his keynote. One was a prototype for a Google Earth automobile dashboard co-developed by Google with Volkswagen AG, and another was a new version of Google Local for mobile devices, including Research in Motion Inc.'s Blackberry devices.
The Google Local for mobile service is available in beta form at http://www.google.com/glm.