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1.13.2006 

A store is a store is a store. Except when it’s the Google Video Store.

Why is there so much trash talk about the newest kid in the cyber mall? My first take was that it was because Google had gone ahead and launched a half-baked product, rather than holding off until it was ready for public consumption. It’s an easy impression to get, especially since so many things about both the announcement and the product seem slapdash and unfinished.

But then it struck me: The problem with Google Video isn’t that it’s beta; some pretty cool Google products still carry that label. The problem is that Google has positioned Video as a “store,” when it’s not. Google Video is a flavor of search with the option to buy what you find. VoD classifieds.

Don’t think iTunes; think craigslist, with a bit of the bargain bin at Wal-Mart thrown in.

Maybe in its desire to expand beyond search, Google would like us to believe that shopping is just another kind of searching. But I’m not buying it. Say “store” and I’m automatically expecting a whole lot more than a search box. Store conjures up the image of a place where I can navigate, browse, find, compare, preview, review, discuss, recommend, comment, email questions, authenticate, fill and empty my shopping cart, check out, and do a bunch of other things to help me find what I’m looking for and purchase it quickly, easily, confidently. What’s missing from Google Video Store is price of entry for the iTunes, Amazons, eBays of the world.

Seen through this lens, it’s no surprise that Video Store got panned.

Could it be that the company that poo-poos traditional marketing doesn’t understand that “stores” are about selling? That even if you’re philosophically opposed to merchandising, you’ve got to put some effort into displaying the wares and stocking the shelves if you’re going to set up shop? (See Truveo for a look at how it could have been done.)

The problem isn’t that the product isn’t ready for primetime; even Video’s senior product manager has gone on record saying the product is “good for users and good for content providers” and that it “shipped when it was ready.”

The problem is that they called Video a store, when it’s really just an example of Google doing what it does, giving it a new name, and figuring we wouldn’t notice the difference.
-GG

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