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Google Cites Flaws in Its Video Store

The company says that shows weren't well promoted on the site, which some analysts have criticized since it was started this month.

January 26, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Acknowledging criticism by some analysts, Google Inc. said it fumbled this month's launch of its online video store.

Shows for sale were not well promoted on the home page of Google Video, Vice President Marissa Mayer said in an interview Tuesday. That left customers unable to tap easily into hits such as CBS Corp.'s top-rated drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and reality show "Survivor."

"We made a big mistake," said Mayer, who oversees all of Google's search products. "You can't come out and launch a product like Google Video and say 'CSI' and 'Survivor' are there if they're not on the home page."

It is a rare stumble for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which seeks to extend its dominance of Web searching into the market for videos, and it highlights the challenges Google faces as it expands.

Google shares more than doubled last year amid optimism that the company would parlay its success in searching to products such as Internet phone calls and classified advertising.

The video service has "fallen far short" of competitors such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes music and video offerings, said Allen Weiner, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "What Apple has done with the iTunes store sets the bar really high."

New York Times technology reviewer David Pogue said last week that Google's video store was "appallingly half-baked" and that the site "doesn't live up to Google's usual standards of excellence."

Google video does not allow customers to play copy-protected shows on portable video devices including the iPod or laptops that are not connected to the Internet, Pogue said. That means they cannot be viewed on long trips by plane or car. He also said the site's design was "incredibly bare-bones and empty-looking."

Google Video on Tuesday changed its home page to make it easier to find clips, Mayer said.

Google's video site attracted 3.04 million U.S. users in December, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which tracks Web use.

Microsoft Corp.'s MSN video had 9.46 million visitors and Yahoo Inc.'s video site had 2.15 million.

The number of visitors to the iTunes website and use of iTunes software reached 20.7 million, Nielsen said. Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said Jan. 18 that it had sold 8 million videos and TV shows since October, when the video iPod debuted.

Google Video, introduced a year ago, initially let viewers search content from TV networks including PBS, C-SPAN and News Corp.'s Fox News Channel.

The site presented still photos of programs and text segments from closed captioning.

In April, Google began accepting video submissions from individuals and in June offered video player software for customers to view the clips.

The site that opened this month also lets individuals submit video clips to Google and will let them charge for the content.

"What they've done for consumer-generated video is really quite good," Gartner's Weiner said.

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