Google rolled out Google TV yesterday at its Day 2 keynote. The demonstration of Google TV was problematic because, apparently, interference from all the Bluetooth phones Google itself handed out to attendees prevented the Bluetooth devices on stage from working properly. There was a long, awkward segment where Google's demo gods were going back and forth between the main system and a backup system, with each failing to work. Finally, they asked several times for everyone to turn off their phones.
During all this, some awkward programming was playing live on the giant screen. They intended to do their demo with actual, live TV. The trashy topics and bathroom-product commercials raised nervous laughter from the audience, and disparaging comments about the programming from the demo guys.
No big deal. But today, YouTube offers videos showing the whole keynote, minus the awkward demo bits.
There are five explanations I can think of:
1. Maybe the demos are posted, but I'm not able to find them. I spent more than an hour looking and searching, but no luck.
2. Maybe Google feels uneasy about posting videos showing live TV shows that were playing during the demo for copyright reasons.
3. Maybe Google feels uncomfortable about the comments Google executives made about the live programming, which tended to be embarrassed comments about choosing a different channel next time.
4. Maybe Google was asked by the studio of that live broadcast to not post their content.
5. And finally, maybe Google doesn't want to facilitate mash-ups and mockery of their demos not working.
I've asked Google why, and I'll post their answer once I get it.
Here's the confusing thing. There's a lot of content on YouTube of programming exactly like the shows playing during Google's demo. There does not appear to be a categorical ban on clips from TV shows.
The on-stage demo gaffs and problems of Google's competitors, including a famous Blue Screen of Death during a Windows 98 demo by Bill Gates, are easily available on YouTube. There does not appear to be a categorical ban on awkward, problematic technology demos.
The question is: Is Google exercising special privileges and treating itself differently than it does competitors and others?
Is Google using its ownership and control of YouTube to unfairly protecting itself against appearing imperfect, while allowing its competitors' gaffs and problems to remain online?
If so, this is something the Chinese government would do, not companies like Google that are constantly talking about openness and transparency. And it raises questions about the degree to which we can trust a company to present an unbiased video history of the Internet, or an unbiased indexing of content on the Internet, when it's willing to censor video over something as trivial as Bluetooth connection problems.
Am I over-reacting? What do you think?
UPDATE: I heard back from Google. Here's what a press spokesperson told me:
"There are some portions of the Google TV that aren't available right now. This is because we showed live TV in the demos and there are licensing and permissions issues. You can find further detail on this in the descriptions portion of the Google TV demo video found here: 'Due to licensing and permissions issues, we are unable to show the full Google TV demonstration from the Day 2 keynote at Google I/O. Until we are able to get these permissions, please check out these clips.'"
I'll stay on it and report back on whether they ever do post the redacted bits.