Agreement and Disagreement on Larry Page's Keynote

Larry Page’s keynote at the CES in Las Vegas was one sold out show. Few things he mentioned made sense, while a major annoucement, Google Pack, did not impress that much.

Now shifting to talk about electrical power. Shows photo of power adapter clutter. “Why can’t we just standardize the power with a really nice power supply? (shot of happy power supply) We really needs standards in these areas.
“Most devices can be connected through adapters. You can basically adapt anything to USB for like $20. Do you really need all these ports running around? I don’t think it’s really necessary. Phones have been a really positive example. You can connect any bluetooth headset to any blue [Live coverage of Google Keynote with Robin Williams]

The shot he gave of various power supplies is nothing compared to what most people have under their desks. With cameras, camcorders, cell phones, printers, iPod, speakers and other peripherals having their own style of power supply, it has become scary to put the foot under the desk. Now to disconnect a device you have to venture down the desk and trace the cable from the mess without getting electrocuted. Though most people wish that this problem would be solved, the clutter may never disappear as there is no incentive for manufacturers to make it happen.
Though there were rumors that Google would unveil a cheap PC running the Google OS, noting of that sort happened. Instead Google announced a video store as well as Google Pack. Google Pack makes it convenient to install various pieces of software easily as well as manage the updates. The pack includes software from Google like Earth, Picassa, Desktop and Desktop Toolbar as well as third party software like Real Player, Firefox, Norton Antivirus, Ad Aware, and Adobe Reader.
Google decided to do the pack to make it easy for users to manage the installed set of programs. They also like software which comply with their list of software principles and one of the items mentioned in the list is Upfront Disclosure.

When an application is installed or enabled, it should inform you of its principal and significant functions. And if the application makes money by showing you advertising, it should clearly and conspicuously explain this. This information should be presented in a way that a typical user will see and understand — not buried in small print that requires you to scroll. For example, if the application is paid for by serving pop-up ads or sending your personal data to a third party, that should be made clear to you.[Software Principles]

When you start Real Player for the first time, it takes you through a wizard driven registration screen. In one of the E-mail subscription screens, the user is expected to select those mailing lists which he is interested in. While the ones visible are unchecked, as you scroll down, you see that the ones not visible have been checked for your convenience. This is sneaking past the user and does not comply with the Upfront Disclosure policy of Google.
The second point is against the Norton Antivirus which is also included in the Pack. The installed version comes with a six month subscription of updates, and after that you have to purchase. Since Google’s policy seems to be to buy companies and make their software available for free (Picassa, Earth), it goes against that trend to sell subscriptions of Norton Antivirus.
While some think that Google Pack is directed against Microsoft, there is nothing in the pack which reduces Microsoft’s revenue or attacks their cash cows. It would have been useful if the Pack contained Open Office. With user having to give their first born to buy a version of Microsoft Office, this would have been a direct hit on Microsoft.

2 thoughts on “Agreement and Disagreement on Larry Page's Keynote

  1. GooglePC rumour had been squashed some time ago (see GigaOm). Given the amount of dark fiber Google is supposed to have bought it is not surprising that video is up there in Google’s priority.
    I too am surprised by the Google Pack release. Maybe it is geared towards a less tech-savy audience who can’t be bothered to go to each vendor’s individual website and download the applications. OO’s exlusion is actually understandable. Microsoft Office suite is one of the few cash cows of M$. Distributing OO in the pack would have been *the* most direct attack against M$ and I don’t think Google wants to do that, yet.
    As for cables and adapters, I find it plain puzzling. But given the way Google works, I would be very surprised if that was just a rant. Some wheel must be turning in the Google, though I am not sure which one and where it may lead.

  2. Srijith,
    I think the Google strategy is to make an innocent looking Google Updater adopted. Later they can push OO through it.
    In the Key Note, he mentioned that the reference to power adapters was just to get people thinking.
    Go to video.google.com and search for “Malayalam” and you can watch some movies and songs 🙂

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