Blinkx Seeks IPTV Spark With Video Blog, Search Service

Further honing its focus on video search and making a play to become a hub of Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), Blinkx has launched a service that lets users upload video blogs that can then be searched by the public and gives users the ability to control video they find through online searches.

My also lets users create “channels” of video content found in searches. Those channels can be set to be automatically updated when relevant new video footage becomes available on the Web. Users can then watch those search results channels as a streaming video, either from their PCs or on portable devices.

Foundation Being Built

Blinkx gave an example of a user uploading footage from Hurricane Katrina. The video would be converted into Flash format and normalized for Web viewing. At the same time, an audio transcript that could be searched by keyword would be created. That content would then be archived into a search channel that users seeking images of Katrina could find.

“There’s been a huge amount of noise about IPTV, but we’ve yet to see any real progress in this area,” said Blinkx founder Suranga Chandratillake. “We believe that IPTV should combine the interactive, customizable experience of the Internet, with the simple, seamless way we watch TV.”

He said the video blog service represented the search firm “collaborating with our users to experiment with how we think [IPTV] might look.”

Foundation Being Built

For now, the service is meant to focus on non-commercial video, but analysts say it can easily become a gateway for users to find all manner of video, including content that they pay to view. The search site said it has digital rights management (DRM) technology it can deploy if professionals want to charge for content and keep it from being copied illegally.

Analysts also said that the new service is a huge improvement over an earlier Blinkx video search offering that simply indexed video clips and appears to outpace the beta video search offerings from both Google and Yahoo. Those services still direct users to the sites where video is hosted, rather than pulling it directly into the search sites.

Google Video already offers a similar upload service. Google has been seen trying to leverage users’ video blogs as a way to beef up the content is has for users to search through when using its video search function. That in turn will help it overcome the limitations of having video being searched located mainly on third party servers.

Many analysts believe that IPTV, when it becomes mainstream, will be marked by a high degree of user control, essentially blowing up the traditional model in which programmers mete out content that is under their control.

“What will be different about online TV is the degree of control users have,” Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “Specialized programming, movie previews and news programs will be found by the audiences that want to watch them.”

Growing Pains

Video search is seen as a lynchpin technology as search engines seek to evolve to keep pace with the changing Internet. Video search may be the most logical place for TV-style video commercials to be propagated, since users searching for video will have the technology and bandwidth in place to handle viewing such rich media ads.

But it’s got lots of growing up to do, said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.

“There’s a dearth of video content that people really care about on the Web,” she said. And personal video blogs are likely not the antidote for that ailment. “The reality is it will take years before the really good video content will be available online due to rights management and copyright issues. Remember — it took three years between the rise of Napster and the arrival of iTunes for digital music to make headway.”

Still, Internet and traditional media companies are not wasting any time positioning themselves in the video-search and IPTV arena. Just last week, for instance, film and television giant Viacom was said to be on the verge of closing a deal to buy video-on-demand site iFilm, a move that would give it an entirely new distribution channel for its deep well of content.

Blinkx itself has been a rumored takeover target of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which is making a push in the Web space. But talks between the two have reportedly stalled in recent weeks.

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