Monthly Archives: December 2010

Why Google Acquires Widevine?

W3C’s HTML5 FAQ page might give some clues (see screenshot) about why Google buys Widevine, a DRM vendor that powers Netflix among others. What if Google adds DRM to HTML5 video?

Google did something similar when they bought On2 and open-sourced VP8 as part of WebM. This move pushed MPEGLA to make h.264 royalty-free for Web video. The iPad did the rest to accelerate adoption of HTML5/h.264 video in the web.

HTML5 video with DRM is what Youtube needs to convince content owners, movie studios in particular, that their content will be protected. Furthermore, HTML5 video with DRM, combined with cool HTML5 UIs, makes the Web Browser an ideal front-end for video on any screen. Where there is a browser, Google will make money with ads.

Adding open source DRM to HTML5 is consistent with Google’s web centric vision. Chrome OS is a perfect example of that vision, illustrated in this recent post on Google’s blog (with Eric Schmidt’s talk on the Chrome event this week).

I tend to think Google sees this acquisition more strategic than just adding DRM to GoogleTV.

HTML5 and Netflix

Netflix explains in this post how they use HTML5 for their UI frontend and logic

HTML5 brings to the table, the freedom to create rich, dynamic and interactive experiences for any platform with a web browser. In fact, we’re also using HTML5 to create the user experience for our iPhone, iPad and Android applications as well

[…] HTML5 […] is delivered from Netflix servers every time you launch our application. This means we can constantly update, test and improve the experience we offer. […] Our customers don’t have to go through a manual process to install new software every time we make a change, it “just happens.”

[…] our world class UI engineers can seamlessly move between working on our website, our mobile experience, and our television-based applications.

This clip shows a sample of how that HTML5-based UI looks on a PS3.

The Netflix Storm

Combine this chart with how Roku, AppleTV, GoogleTV will sell this Xmas, and you have a nightmare after Xmas for Pay-TV and cable operators in US.

Comcast knows well. It is easy to see why they had some peering issues with Level 3 over Netflix traffic increase, and why they want to acquire NBC.

If Apple would strike a deal for live premium sports, the nightmare of cord-cutters would become a reality for Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T. Netflix for films, Hulu/iTunes for TV shows, plus live sports. What else do you want for your TV?

Only premium live sports is keeping early adopters to cut the cord. If gone, it would be only a matter of time before the tornado. No wonder TV rights for sport events are so well paid.

Chart via CHART OF THE DAY: Netflix’s Growth Should Scare HBO

Social Vs. Search

Google should worry about this: More people are discovering content through social networks than through search.

Anyone that had a website a few years ago knows well that most traffic use to come via Google. This has changed. As the chart shows, more traffic is being referred by social networks than by search engines.

People trust recommendations from people they know more than any machine search algorithm. As this becomes the way people finds new stuff, advertisers are going to be more and more interested in Social Networks.

Search will not disappear nor Facebook will kill Google. However in “organizing the World’s information”, in particular the one that matters to you, the people you trust are a big part of the story. Facebook seems to be organizing that better than Google.

Chart via CHART OF THE DAY: How Facebook (And Social Media) Is Eroding Google’s Influence

HTML5: The Future of the Web is Here

The clip shows how close HTML5 performance is to that of a native iOS iPad app. Can you believe this is running on a browser?

Disruption is not only about technology, it is also about business models. If the App Store revolutionized mobile apps, the just released Chrome 8 will support Chrome OS Store, that could take the App model to the browser.

To get up to speed on HTML5:
http://diveintohtml5.org/ by Mark Pilgrim
http://www.html5rocks.com/ by Google

A nice HTML5 app: http://everytimezone.com/

Clip seen here: HTML5: not ready for primetime, but getting very close