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May 26, 2010

Whats up at Google I/O

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Last week in San Francisco was Google I/O, the company’s largest developer conference of the year featuring 2 days of technical content covering Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, GWT, App Engine, open web technologies, and more.

The conferences’ biggest announcement was the introduction of Google TV. Google TV is a software platform that hardware makers Logitech, Sony and DiSH will support. It will combine the web with TV and work just like Google search. It will be compatible with your existing cable/satellite box infrastructure, and Android applications will be accessible on your television. It is built on Android 2.1, will run Google Chrome for the browser and support Flash; and when Google says Flash they mean videos and games.


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Photo by Warrantedarrest via Creative Commons

Google has noted that the TV market of users is huge with 4 billion users worldwide, which vastly exceeds the 1 billion computer users and 2 billion mobile users that exist in the world. They have estimated that the annual ad spends on US television is 70 billion dollars alone.

The coming of Google TV into the market place has been welcomed and some see the competition as positive kick in the butt for companies like Apple and their product Apple TV.

That brings us to another Google/Apple take on Google’s potential threat to iTunes with their Simplify Media acquisition which was also announced at Google I/O.

Until Google’s acquisition of Simplify a couple of months ago, the company offered a free software application for PC and Mac that let users stream music from their Winamp or ITunes libraries over the internet from their home computer to other devices they own.

At the conference Google engineering Vice President Vic Gundotra said Google would offer a desktop app that would incorporate Simplify’s technology and build the receiving technology into a future version of Android OS.

Gundotra also took the opportunity to show a new version of the Android Marketplace with a link to download songs. Watch out iTunes.

Google also launched a public version of their online collaboration tool Google Wave. It was released last year but Google product managers observed that it was used by the invitation only test groups they allowed to try it out.

Wave is often compared to Microsoft Office 2010 and Hotmail. Google won’t openly challenge Microsoft applications, but the free Wave is meant to be used instead of Microsoft’s communication and collaboration tools.

Critics have stated that last year’s version was too hard to figure out and that it was unnerving to see users watch their colleagues type their thoughts and then erase or edit them.

Google also launched the WebM Project. It is supported by Mozilla, Opera, Adobe and forty other software and hardware vendors. It is a Google supported project to create an open and royalty free video format that provides high quality video compression for use with HTML 5 video without the need for Flash.

The current codec that has broad acceptance is the H.264, which Apple supports. It is modern codec that is fast and light. They only problem is that it’s owned by the MPEG-LA consortium which plans to charge and enforce royalties in 2015.

Google will give WebM a real drive by making YouTube videos support it as well. The only question is will Safari and Microsoft support it? Apple is pushing H.264 pretty hard and voicing the lesser need to support Flash. We will see what the future holds.

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