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Google, rich media & the enterprise

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The popular media reveled in the escalation of Google’s assault on Apple.  As entertaining as the quips and comparisons were, one aspect of the Google move into television attracted little attention. Internet-savvy TV boxes are widely available. Dozens of companies, large and small, are chasing after the advertising dollars that “lean back” media represent. That is an interesting metaphor. Using a computing device is a “lean forward” experience.  One has to engage with the device. A “lean back” experience is one in which a person sits or reclines and allows a TV program to wash over them.

The focus of Google’s television and rich media announcements at its May 2010 Google I/O Developer Conference suggested an audience of Gen Y couch potatoes. I have watched many people in an airport watch the programs on the departure lounge TV, flip through Web pages on a laptop and talk on a mobile phone. The potential revenue to the company that can capture the next-generation media consumer fuels Google’s and other companies’ product and services push.

One question that I had as I worked through the often-insightful analyses from rich media experts was, “What impact does Google’s rich media push have for an organization?” and “Is there an enterprise angle to what has been a substantial investment in time, resources and development for videos and music?” Based on my research, Google’s rich media push was interpreted as a consumer play. What might Google do with its television products and services in the enterprise? Google itself provides little detail on that subject, but there are some clues visible in its partner program.

I found the product from Google partner SnapStream Media, a company based in Houston. SnapStream, founded in year 2000, received support from the Houston Technology Center for its “revolutionary media monitoring technology used by public relations and public information organizations to monitor and respond to TV coverage” (source:spurinteractive.com/articles/opportunity-houston-it-article.html).

SnapStream has moved beyond personal video recorders. In late 2009, it had become a leader in TV search software with clients like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. IT offered an innovative TV Trends solution, with which you can experiment at snapstream.com/tvtrends/Default.aspx). If you want to know how many mentions a particular word tallies on national television, the service will tell you with a mouse click what’s said on TV. The splash page for the free service displays the top eight hot and cold trends.

SnapStream operates servers that process the content on broadcast television, a trick not even the wizards at Bing, Google and Yahoo have mastered. Enter a key word like “BP” and the system shows that CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and ABC are covering the oil spill obsessively. Johnson & Johnson, despite its health-related product issues, is a non-issue. Public relations firms and companies concerned about their public image use the service. SnapStream is strikingly similar to Google’s own text-oriented story tracker, Google Trends (see google.com/trends).

But one important part of SnapStream’s business is its SnapStream Enterprise TV Search Appliance. That product is now available in the Google Apps Marketplace (google.com/enterprise/marketplace/viewVendorListings?vendorId=93). According to the information on Google.com: “SnapStream Enterprise is powerful television search technology used by organizations that want to put their finger on the pulse of TV. A cross between a DVR and a search engine, SnapStream Enterprise allows your organization to easily record and search thousands of hours of TV recordings. One SnapStream TV search appliance can simultaneously record up to 10 TV shows and search within more than 9,000 hours of recordings.”

The Google site provides a direct link to a YouTube.com video over-view of the SnapStream Enterprise Server (youtube.com/watch?v=6KSP4R5GvWY). In an interview with Houston 3 TV, SnapStream founder Rakesh K. Agrawal, a computer scientist and mechanical engineer, said, “We’ve shifted our focus to solving television search problems for organizations.”

The company has been successful in providing television archiving and search for organizations, a fact that has made some search vendors like Autonomy and Google take notice. The SnapStream system can record multiple video streams at one time. Once the content has been recorded, a user can do a key word search. The system also allows a user to set up an alert on an “as it happens” basis or on a schedule specified by the user. The alert provides a list of which show mentioned something and what time the comment was made. The system makes it possible to search, copy and link to rich media content. The company “bridges the gap between old media and the new media,” said Agrawal in his Houston 3 interview.

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