Google's content strategy is starting to unfold.
Google doesn't have much of a place in your living room right now. And they're hell-bent on changing that fact as fast as possible. This week saw two big announcements for Google's movie-rental business. First, YouTube has gained three thousand new full-length movies for rental. And second, at today's I/O conference, Google announced Movies for Android Market.
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Downloads will start at $1.99 on the Market, and Google claims that "thousands" will be available at launch. Movies for Android Market will come in the near future with an update to Android 2.2. The expanded YouTube selection is available now.
There are some interesting differences between the two services. Movies rentals start at $1.99, and will presumably act the same way as YouTube rentals. You'll have 30 days to watch your movie. Once started, you have 24 hours to finish it. Rentals on YouTube tend to be more expensive, though. It follows the "industry standard", which is $3.99 for new releases and $2.99 for older releases.
It doesn't make much sense for Google to operate two separate video rental services with different catalogues and prices. I'd expect to see both merge their selections and adopt a universal set of prices, eventually. The lower Movies price may be a sign that Google plans to undercut that so-called "industry standard". They may just be waiting until they have enough content to really take the fight to Netflix.
Google is a Search Castle always looking for new moats. An expanded content platform not only allows Google to extend their reach into the living room, it also makes Android devices more valuable.
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There's been discussion in the recent past over whether or not Google will try to acquire Netflix. I'd call that a sure thing. And if Netflix won't sell, we can expect to see Google continue to strong-arm their way into being a more dominant content platform.