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Google, rich media & the enterprise

Other features of SnapStream’s enterprise product include the ability to record up to 9,000 hours of television programming, to sync to a licensee’s iPod or iPhone, and to snip clips from full recordings. But perhaps the most interesting facet of the SnapStream Enterprise TV Search Appliance is that it features integration with the Google OneBox. Within an organization, TV programming can be monitored and the search results displayed within a Google results list.

SnapStream’s customer list includes television and radio broadcasting companies. What’s noteworthy is that political figures, including Hillary Clinton, are SnapStream customers. Law enforcement, public relations firms and educational institutions have licensed the company’s system.

Google’s rich media announcements suggest that similar functionalities may become available directly from Google. SnapStream’s success and Autonomy’s presence in this market niche provide some evidence that enterprise video may be a large market. Most organizations know about YouTube.com as a way to deliver short videos.

Google could integrate such functions as YouTube distribution, SnapStream’s video archiving and search, and Google’s more sophisticated enterprise capabilities into one service. A law enforcement agency could rely on Google to provide a comprehensive information service. Firms such as Silver Lake Sumeru have rolled up i2’s Analyst Workbench with Knowledge Computing Corporation (acquired by i2) COPLINK).

Furthermore, Marsh & McLennan’s Kroll unit (to be acquired by Altegrity) has somewhat similar capabilities. The potential for Google to become a player in this highly specialized but high-profile market sector could be a source of new revenue for Google.

Will Google compete with its partner in its enterprise video push? Will Google continue to partner with SnapStream Media? Will Google acquire SnapStream, as it did Simplify Media and Episodic? To answer those questions, we have to wait until Google makes a definitive move. Until then, Google has technology and partners that can deliver rich media services into commercial and non-commercial organizations.

Google’s push into rich media, based on the information revealed at the May 2010 Google I/O conference, struck me as primarily for mass market, rich media products and services. It would be an error to ignore the potential for those technologies in the enterprise. Google’s enterprise unit can make use of the company’s rich media technologies, combine them with other Google services, and place pressure on such vendors as VMS. Google is adept at using its technology in multiple markets, often grafting two or more technologies together to create a new service. Google will, at some point, take advantage of enterprise TV opportunities.

The future direction of SnapStream hinges on how Googley the firm is. It seems sufficiently Googley to make an acquisition of the company by Google something to consider. That type of deal would deliver Google skilled professionals and customers. But acquisitions do not resolve the threats that other, well funded and capable competitors pose. Google’s rich media plans must become more than conference presentations. Management and customer service may be more important to the success of Google’s rich media efforts than technology regardless of how Google obtains a capability.

Either way, SnapStream has an opportunity to hit the big time, with or without Google.  

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