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Bivings Debate: Is GoogleTV Great? Here’s Why

(this is part 1 of a 2 part BivingsReport Debate on the merits of Google TV)

Argument #1: The new tv platform from Google has the power to legitimately revolutionize the way we watch TV. Unlike AppleTV, Google and its platforms have effectively permeated most facets of technological life in this country. With the proliferation of the Android phone operating system, the the Android market – Google set itself up to begin market domination in the entertainment sphere aside from just our mobile phones. Thanks to ease of use and the fact that many of us have already outsourced most of our data storage function to Gmail/Google Aps, the company’s foray into delivering us a well-made TV programming portal is likely to be successful (at least among early adopters).  It is for these reasons as well as the ones listed below that I am exceptionally excited about the GoogleTV entertainment platform.

The features we’re pumped about:

  • Using an Android-based phone as a remote control. Finally provides a solution to losing your remote in the couch cushions – because you can always call yourself to find the remote.
  • It’s open source. At the Bivings Report, we are huge fans of open source development platforms (ie Drupal)
  • The App market looks great. If its growth mirrors the current Droid market in any way, consumers will be in for an interactive treat in terms of breath and quality of applications.
  • Chrome browser to surf the web and Adobe Flash to see dynamic content.
  • It’s better than AppleTV

 

AppleTV

Google TV on Logitech Revue

Video Content

iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

Netflix, Amazon VoD, YouTube, NBA Game Time, Blip.tv, VEVO
Flash nope
Recording nope
Apps not currently
Non-video Content Flickr

Pandora, Napster

(chart content is from Cult of Mac)

Imagine- soon we’ll be able to Google Search for TV shows, update our twitter accounts, and instantly stream Netflix right to our tv.

Is Bing More Innovative Than Google?

Google may still command over 60 percent market share when it comes to searches, the Microsoft-owned Bing is making steady headway ever since its introduction in June 2009. However, current data shows that Bing and Yahoo search engines’ share in the marketplace is growing – as the expense of Google. Yet due to its smaller size, Bing is quicker to innovate with new features, like the brand-new taxi cab fare calculator, as well as its intuitive answers and shopping engine. In recent months, Bing has continued adding more features – like integrating Twitter and Facebook status updates into its search results.

The change toward making search sites more user friendly (and more insightful with information) is enhancing the search experience for the average internet user.  To give users an idea of what’s going on around their neighborhoods or in interesting parts of the country, Bing has partnered up with Foursquare to provide geo-location based  information about restaurant specials and user recommendations. Bit by bit, these social media innovations help Bing stand out among its competitors – and woo social media junkies away from Google’s grip. Bing is also the official search engine within Facebook.

Further applications – whether it be the Bing Shopping iPhone app (with bar code scanner) or the Bing Health section – continue enhancing Bing’s search capabilities.  Thus far, Bing commands only 12% of the search engine market share – but its rate of growth suggests that big things may be in its future. If nothing else, Microsoft’s innovative use of social media data (twitter, foursquare, and Facebook) shows its understanding of the power that user-generated content can have on search engine traffic.

For a side by side comparison of the two sites, check out – http://www.bing-vs-google.com/

A New Age of Crisis Reporting?: Media, the Oil Spill, and You

As the oil from the BP Gulf coast spill continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, the attention of the nation seems to focus on it more and more. As one of the worst environmental disasters our country has ever seen, it is garnering huge media attention across platforms and is sure to be one of the biggest news stories of the year.  Now in the age of always-accessible information, people seeking factual, unbiased details from the spill area are left wanting.

The Washington Post reported last week that several major news organizations were being blocked from comprehensive coverage in myriad ways, including restriction of flight access and chaperoning of reporters in newly-restricted areas. Information has also been slowed by comprehensive gag orders written into contracts between BP and employees, including clean-up personnel and local boat owners. In addition, BP is "using paid search to influence public opinion" according to the Huffington Post . Every time a Google search is launched using relevant terms-including "oil spill", "gulf coast" and "BP disaster", the first sponsored link directs to BP's "Gulf of Mexico Response" page, offering corporate-tinged updates.

Although Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the federal government, told ABC News' "This Week" that he produced a written order for the media to be allowed "uninhibited access", the mainstream media is still being blocked in several avenues. This is where you come in.

In the age of citizen journalists and Web 2.0, every-day people are stepping up to the challenge of reporting one of the worst environmental disasters of all time. Using facebook, twitter and brand new social media tools, non-credentialed civilians are keeping tabs on the spill and it's effects. The twitter hashtag "#oilspill" has been trending for weeks, with discussion spurred by pictures and tweets sent from the area affected by the spill. A Facebook group advocating for a boycott of BP has over 400,000 "likes" and user-uploaded photos of protests, affected animals and damaged coastline.

In addition, people looking for ways to document and share news of the spill have a brand new avenue-the mobile application OilReporter . Developed by CrisisCommons with Intridea and Appcelerator, OilReporter allows for mobile mapping, photo-documentation and real-time reporting of injured wildlife, oil-stricken beaches and wetlands. It even has a sliding scale with which the user can report exactly how much oil is in each location, and the ability to cross-check your location and information with the Federal Government, State Government, and Google Crisis Response data sources. With this new tool, normal people can report on the spill as it affects their lives directly, and share information with people all over the world concerned with the ramifications.

U.S. Senate v. Facebook, John Stewart v. Apple, Google v. All

Given the information overload of social media and technology stories this week, for company with bad news to drop, today would be a particularly good day.

Monday: U.S. States Senate vs. Facebook.

Adding to the confusion and buzz surrounding Facebook’s latest unannounced, and mostly unrequested overhaul of their 3rd party site integration / instant personalization or “Open Graph API,” Ney York’s Senior Senator, Charles Schumer has requested that the FTC create privacy guidelines for social networking sites. While many would argue that the Senate has, or should have more pressing matters to attend to, Mr. Schumer does raise a valid point in the sense that the onus is now on Facebook’s users to opt-out, rather than asking them to opt-in. However given that the choice of what content to share on Facebook is entirely up to Facebook’s users, and that Facebook, along with sites such as Pandora and CNN are available free of charge, it is difficult to see a compelling government interest that necessitates interfering in this type of transaction.

For those of us in the social media sector, I think the more important question is whether or not this move will be effective. I went back and re-read an excellent June 2009 article by Douglas Rushkoff, Facebook’s Fatal Error which he wrote in response to Facebook’s then newly introduced policy of allowing users to select their own user names / urls reminded him of when AOL, which like Facebook used to be a closed network with its own content opened its doors to the wider internet:

That’s a problem. Facebook's relative detachment from the Internet is not a bug, but a feature. Its only competitive advantage in the Internet space—its only reason for being—was that it was more personal, more closed off, and arguably more private than the Internet itself. Even then, the biggest problem has never been how to get people to find you, but how to not friend many of those who do. Now that we'll be quickly findable via Google, what's left to distinguish this social-networking site from the social network that is… the Internet?

Emphasis added is mine. It is important to note since Rushkoff wrote this, Facebook has more than doubled in size from 200 to 400+ million users. Facebook was also never designed as a way to access the internet, and would not have been possible without companies like AOL exposing large numbers of users to the concept of the internet, so the analogy of Faebook to AOL isn't clear cut. Additionally, while the launch of Facebook as a closed network for students was indeed brilliant, since then most 1st generation Facebookers have come to accept the social network for what it is.

Tuesday

For the 42.1% of smart phone users who have a Blackberry device, some long overdue news. During their WES 2010 conference, Blackberry announced the release of a new operating system- OS 6.0 which according to Blackberry will include a smoother web browser, the ability to customize your home screen (beyond the choice and order of icons) and other user enhancements, basically bringing older models closer to what is now featured on the Storm2.

Also announced were two new devices, the Bold 9560 and Pearl 3G.

No word yet if Blackberry plans to send SWAT teams and corporate goons to kick down your door and haul off your computers for trying these devices out early.


Wednesday:

Proving once again that an issue is not a story until it gets picked up by the main stream media, Wednesday was the day when Apple and the state of California’s frighteningly absurd over-reaction to Gizmodo’s scoop on the new Iphone hit the fan. For a brief review of events, check out Gizmodo’s timeline here.

As usual, John Stewart provides the clearest and most succinct analysis of events.

Reminds me of an old skit from the Dave Chappelle show skit on the two legal systems.

Thursday:

Perhaps attempting to change the subject from the portrayal of his company on the Daily Show,  Steve Jobs published a manifesto of sorts listing several grievances against Adobe.

There is really not way to understand the ‘controversy’ without reading the source material in full, but the main points of contention are:

Open vs. Closed Platforms:

Jobs: “Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary….Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open

Adobe CEO Mr. Narayen: Apple's "recent behavior show[s] that they are concerned about Adobe being able to provide this product that works across multiple platforms…I find it amusing, honestly. Flash is an open specification."

Reliability, Security and Performance

Jobs: “Adobe is the No. 1 cause of Mac crashes”
Narayen: “If Adobe crashes Apple, that actually has something "to do with the Apple operating system."

Steve Jobs Thoughts on Flash  –  Adobe’s Response

Friday

In a story that broke early this morning, it appears that the Ohio Attorney General has joined the shopping search company myTriggers in an anti-trust lawsuit against Google. At issues is a failure by MyTriggers to pay $335,000 in search marketing fees to Google. MyTriggers refused to pay, claiming instead that its quality score, which determines placement in search engine results caused their adverting costs to increase by 10,000% 

From Wendy Davis’ article on MediaPost:

MyTriggers argues that the drop in quality score was part of an anticompetitive scheme "to ensure that Google can continue to exert control over search advertising." The shopping search site further asserted that it posed a threat to Google by monetizing searches on a cost-per-action basis, as opposed to Google's cost-per-click model….

Google recently filed papers arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed for several reasons, including that the federal Communications Decency Act's "good samaritan" provisions shields it from liability for any steps taken to remove potentially objectionable content. Google argues that its actions as a publisher — including lowering companies' quality scores — are the type of activity that is protected by the statute. But MyTriggers and the Ohio attorney general argue that the Communications Decency Act doesn't apply in this case. Among other reasons, they say that the statute's good samaritan provisions only come into play when a company has removed material that could harm children because it's obscene, violent or othe
rwise offensive."

Anything else we missed?

Finding Value in Google Buzz

bee_in_flower I’m not an early adopter of the latest tool. I’ll happily  sit back and wait for the dust to settle before I consider using any new application.

It has been my experience that this is a good practice. Most of what hits the social web usually putters and falls into obscurity.

So when Google Buzz was announced, I didn’t give it much thought.

With any tool that I use, my main objective is:

  1. To determine if it provides me value when it comes to sharing and communicating on the social web.
  2. To determine if it’s just another way to broadcast my voice. If that’s the case, I probably won’t use it.
  3. To be sure it provides value to the people who like what I share and listen to what I have to say. (most important to me)

Recently I’ve been trying to think of a way to share just the articles and resources I come across. I know some people set up a separate Twitter profile for this, but I was curious if there was another way to do this. So I thought about using Buzz. That way my friends who are already connected to me via Gmail can easily grab the information useful to them without having to dig through all my bookmarks or tweets.

I found a Firefox add-on called Buzz it! that works and is useful. It allows you to update your Buzz timeline through your Gmail. The update will include the title and the URL of the page you’re sharing. It also provides the option to edit the update and utilize Bit.ly to shorten your URLs, which I like.

I’ve just started playing with Buzz, so it remains to be seen if this will work.  Like all tools, it’s going to take some investment of time to determine if I’ll want to continue using it. I wrote off Twitter when I first  used it only to find its value the second time around.

Regardless, it’s probably not a good idea to constrain all my engagement to only one tool. Twitter has provided me tons of value and opportunities, but if it disappeared… well, then I’d better be sure I could find an adequate substitute.

Have you found any value using Google Buzz?