Google Partners With Sony Pictures, Universal And Warner Brothers For YouTube Movies

Google confirmed the existence of its YouTube Movies service earlier today and has just released more details on which studios and movies will provide the 3,000 titles in its repertoire. YouTube has partnered up with Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros and others to offer full length feature films on YouTube.com/movies. Fox, which we mistakenly reported had joined the brood earlier, is noticeably absent.

From the YouTube blog:

“Today, we’re announcing another step in our goal to bring more of the video you love to YouTube: the addition of thousands of full-length feature films from major Hollywood studios available to rent in the US at youtube.com/movies. In addition to the hundreds of free movies available on the site since 2009, you will be able to find and rent some of your favorite films.

From memorable hits and cult classics like Caddyshack, Goodfellas, Scarface, and Taxi Driver to blockbuster new releases like Inception, The King’s Speech, Little Fockers, The Green Hornet and Despicable Me. Movies are available to rent at industry standard pricing, and can be watched with your YouTube account on any computer. The new titles will begin appearing later today and over the coming weeks to www.youtube.com/movies, so keep checking back.”

Exciting options – I wonder though, is YouTube still serving up ads to those who pay for a rental?

Microsoft Can Take Skype to The Next Level: Mobile & Living Room

Microsoft is acquiring Skype for a reported $8.5 Billion in cash. There has been a lot of speculation about what this might mean for Skype, the leading Internet telephone and chat service with around 663 million registered users. For consumers, there are two key aspects to this deal which will potentially take Skype to the next level: Microsoft’s mobile expertise (in collaboration with its mobile partner Nokia) and its enormously popular gestural interface system Kinect.

Microsoft has a competitive mobile offering now in Windows Phone 7. In addition, as Todd Bishop from GeekWire noted, there are over 10 million “Microsoft cameras connected to television screens in homes around the world” – thanks to Xbox 360 Kinect sensors. This is the future of Skype, now that it’s been acquired by Microsoft: Skype will be much more widely used on your mobile and in your home.

I’m surprised Skype hasn’t made its own roads into mobile yet. Does a smart young startup really need a goliath like Microsoft?

With reQall Rover, Your Phone is a Personal Secretary by @om

ReQall Rover, currently in private beta, is the newest software from the folks behind reQall, a natural language memo service spun off from MIT’s Media Lab, that helps manage personal information. And in under 90 seconds, it just told me some key data about my upcoming day. The weather helps me choose my clothes. I know what my first appointment is, understand what my email queue is like, and I learned that a Facebook friend takes photos of popcorn showers. OK, so maybe that last bit isn’t important, but you get the idea. This Voice Summary feature is available on demand with a button tap or can be scheduled up to three times per day in the software.

I’ve been using the software for nearly a week, and I can already see huge potential because it aggregates important data from the various web services I already use. That may be the best description of how reQall Rover works: combining natural language processing with APIs from third-party services, it delivers personalized information to keep me on track, ranging from upcoming appointments, action items, local trending terms on Twitter, traffic nearby, and more. Upcoming appointments generate information on meeting attendees through LinkedIn and other sources. You can also speak to the software to ask questions as it builds up a database of web links and user-generated answers.

In terms of data services, reQall is leveraging some of the top-tier data stores through available APIs, but Rover can be an information platform for others as well. Other companies that capture user data can provide an API to reQall for inclusion in the software, then users can choose to personalize their experience with that data. There’s little point to re-creating the wheel when it comes to data, Sunil Vemuri, chief product officer at reQall, told me via a Skype video chat:

We’re good at natural language processing and using it to keep information manageable, but we’re not experts on real estate, for example. Zillow is a leader here, so if we could use an API from their service, reQall Rover could alert me of nearby homes for sale as I drive through a new neighborhood.

The approach makes sense, because no one company is likely to be an expert on all forms of data, although we’re sure to discuss that at our Big Data event later this month. Google may have the most information when it comes to general search, for example, but if I were home shopping, I’d hit Zillow over Google any day. And third-party services that offer an API bring a win-win for everyone: Rover users gain more pertinent information, and companies that provide such data are likely to see more people use the service to make it better in the first place

Mozilla Takes a Stand Against Dept of Homeland Security via @RWW

Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if that means standing against the United States Department of Homeland Security. That is what Mozilla is doing concerning the MafiaaFire extension to Firefox.

According to Anderson, the questions Mozilla asked were similar to these:

  • Have any courts determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings)
  • Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.
  • Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down the Mafiaafire  add-on is based?

The question about the extension is less about professional sports teams, piracy and copyright and more about threats to the open Internet. Mozilla is an open source supporter and its developers are big contributors to open source projects and community members on code-sharing forum GitHub. Mozilla is looking for due process and transparency from DHS. It is the right stand to take, even if MafiaaFire and the seized sites it redirects from are not the most upstanding citizens of the World Wide Web.

AOL Launches “Incredibly Easy” Video Chat Service Internally; We Launch It Externally

AOL is on the verge of launching a “shiny new video chat product dubbed ‘AV’”. And it actually looks pretty good. It’s video chat, but super-simple. You don’t need an account to use it. You don’t need anything (besides, sadly, Flash installed on your computer). You hit the homepage, start a chat, get a link, and send that to friends. Up to four people can chat at once.

AOL has relevant ideas? Go Ariana, go.

Talking Bin Laden on Twitter

This week’s big news is obvious: American forces killed Osama bin Laden on Monday (Sunday for most Westerners) in a raid of his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But you already knew that, and how exactly you found out is the first angle I want to look at. The news blew up on Twitter and Facebook late Sunday night after the White House announced President Obama would be addressing the nation. The ensuing frenzy set a record for the highest volume of sustained activity on Twitter, with an average of 3,000 tweets per second for about three hours. While most Americans first got the news from TV, about a fifth of young people found out online.solis

That led to another round of celebration of Twitter as the emerging source for big breaking news — Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff called the story Twitter’s CNN moment and said Twitter was “faster, more accurate, and more entertaining than any other news source out there.” Brian Solis, a digital analyst at Altimeter Group, described Twitter as “a perfect beast for committing acts of journalism,” and University of British Columbia j-prof Alfred Hermida said it’s becoming routine to see Twitter as the first option for breaking news coverage.

Definitely read the whole Nieman Lab piece, it’s a fascinating post mortem of a single moment captured by social media, and the echo chamber that is our current media landscape.

Reality TV: OpenCourt has begun its livestream of the judicial system

OpenCourt is about as real as reality TV can get when it doesn’t involve Kardashians, real housewives, or people trapped on an island. That’s because OpenCourt, which launched yesterday, offers a view inside the legal system — specifically, the Quincy District Court here in Massachusetts, where traffic infractions, drug cases, and arraignments of all kinds now unfold not only in the courtroom, but also via streaming video.

The streaming is the next step in what was formerly known as Order in the Court 2.0, the winner of a 2010 Knight News Challenge grant and a project with an explicit goal of making the courts as transparent as the other branches of government. It’s something that seems simple as a premise: Put a webcam in a courtroom, and, boom, livestreamed court proceedings. But of course it’s tricker than that; otherwise, the Knight Foundation may not have awarded $250,000 to the WBUR-led project.