OK, so the whole Groupon acquisition didn't go quite as planned. Analysts are mixed on whether that's a good thing or not, although virtually all agree that Google needs to get its act together on local and social. While social networking may be a weak point for Google, its parallel efforts in mobile, video, and browsers are going quite well, as are its related acquisition efforts. To that end, Google announced Friday that it had agreed to purchase the streaming video DRM and optimization company Widevine.
Widevine currently provides anti-piracy and optimization tools and services to companies including Netflix and AT&T, among others. According to the Wall Street Journal,
Google said Widevine's video delivery optimization software and digital rights management (DRM) platform will enable it to more effectively stream videos to users...Mario Queiroz, Google vice president of product management...said Google is committed to maintaining Widevine's agreements with customers and providing support for existing and future clients. He added that the Internet search giant plans to build upon Widevine's technology to enhance its products and Google's.
Google TV, anyone?
Perhaps more importantly, the technology could make Google a much more attractive outlet for digital content producers and digital rights holders. As Google struggles to get major studios behind its Google TV efforts, Viacom announced that it planned to appeal this summer's decision (in Google's favor) over copyrighted materials hosted on YouTube.
While Widevine would not provide the sorts of protections that Google's Content ID offers in proactively identifying copyrighted materials, its acquisition sends a far clearer message than Thursday's blog post about improved DMCA compliance that Google is serious about protecting digital rights holders.
So Google may have social fail after social fail (you know, Wave, Buzz, Yelp, Groupon, etc.), but the company is increasingly positioning itself as a major media outlet. Whenever the social piece does finally come together, the social user experience and monetization potential will be impressive. If only that pesky Facebook would just go away.