Can Online Rentals and the Cloud kill mass Torrenting?
Big Content doesn't like Google. Their obsession with collecting and distributing data for free has already caused them to run afoul of the publishing industry, the MPAA and the RIAA. This hissy-fit has caused networks to pull en masse out of Google TV. And it's slowed Android's advance against iOS. But Google may be on the cusp of a move that will both revolutionize the way we compute and turn them into the new golden boys of Big Content.
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Chromebooks may be the first practical way to eliminate conventional piracy yet proposed. Taking everything to the cloud makes storing and transferring hundreds of gigabytes of stolen media incredibly impractical. It's unclear exactly what quantities of cloud storage Google will make available to users, but it certainly won't come close to what people can amass with a couple of $90 hard drives.
Google's Music Beta sounds pretty 'torrent friendly', but they haven't announced plans for any sort of similar movie service. What they have done, is push the hell out of on-demand video rental. On a desktop with a wired Internet connection and tons of space, torrenting films is more convenient than renting them. But on a smartphone, or a tablet? A cheap, streaming rental is the way to go.
And Chromebooks will make legal streaming a preferable alternative to privacy. You've got very little storage space- why not just eat the $1.99 charge and not have to deal with deleting or transferring the file later?
Desktop market share is shrinking rapidly before the onslaught of mobile devices. Chrome's subsidized notebooks stand a chance at sweeping college students (a major source of piracy) into the fold, thanks to their low entry price. The only way to 'beat' piracy is to replace it with something that ends up being more convenient without incurring significant expense.
The Chromebook is as elegant an answer to the question of piracy as I've ever heard. And it looks like Google is finally ready to take off the training wheels. With two products launched at I/O and the promise of subscription-based options in the near future, it won't be long before the rest of Google's content plan becomes clear.