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August 17, 2006

A Brief History of Google Video

January 2005

Google Video launches, but it only searches the captions from TV shows, without providing videos. "Just type in your search term (for instance, iPod or Napa Valley) or do a more advanced search (for instance, title:nightline) and Google Video will search the closed captioning text of all the programs in our archive for relevant results. Click on a program title on your results page and you can look through short snippets of the text along with still images from the show."

April 2005

Google starts to accept user-submitted videos. Users can set a price for their videos.

"Today's video upload program is a new project that enables anyone, whether they produce hundreds of videos a year or just a few, to upload their digital video files to Google Video. The program is ideal for anyone who has valuable content and wants to promote it to a wider audience. While we're not making this content searchable right away, we've started accepting videos and will keep you posted as we make progress in developing the product. The content may be reviewed by Google prior to being made available online. Please see our FAQ for more about our requirements. Eventually, we plan to enable users to search, preview, play and purchase videos on Google Video and allow content owners to choose to charge for the video or get wider distribution by giving it away for free," explained the press release.

June 2005

Google lets people view the user-submitted videos and no longer captions TV shows. To play the files, you need a plug-in based on VideoLAN. It's hard to use and some videos don't play.

September 2005

Google drops their downloadable browser plug-in and starts to use Flash for playing videos. It's faster to use and most people already have the Flash plug-in.

January 2006

Google launches Google Video Store and starts to offer premium content from content providers like CBS, SONY BMG and ITN. The payment is made through a system that will be later known as Google Checkout. The videos bought can be played using Google Video Player and by authenticating to Google.

April 2006

Google introduces Google Video Top 100, a list of the most popular videos.

May 2006

You can now upload videos through a web form. Until now, videos could only be submitted using a desktop client. Google also starts to test contextual video ads, which will turn out to be Google Video's monetization model. Google Video now includes movie trailers.

June 2006

Google starts a limited test with ad-supported premium content, develops a video player for Mac and adds some community features: comments, ratings and labels. Google Videos are now included in the Search History.

July 2006

Google Video launches 8 international versions and integrates an easier system of adding videos to blogs and MySpace.

August 2006

Google Video is linked on Google's homepage.

October 2006

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion. "The acquisition combines one of the largest and fastest growing online video entertainment communities with Google's expertise in organizing information and creating new models for advertising on the Internet. (...) When the acquisition is complete, YouTube will retain its distinct brand identity, strengthening and complementing Google's own fast-growing video business."

January 2007

Google Video starts to index YouTube videos and Google announces plans to transform it into a video search engine. Google Video starts to show personalized recommendations on the homepage.

April 2007

The personalized search results should be more relevant, even if your query is ambiguous.

June 2007

Other video hosting sites are added to the index and Google Video becomes a real search engine. "Google Video indexes videos from tens of video sites, including Metacafe, iFilm, Grouper, Yahoo Video, MySpace,, Daily Motion, Vimeo, Veoh, AOL Video, Jumpcut, Revver, Guba, BBC, but YouTube dominates the search results."

August 2007

Google closes the video store and those who paid for copyright-protected videos aren't able to view them from August 15.

November 2007

Google Video starts to index videos from the entire Web, not just from a small number of video sites.

December 2007

The service redesignes its homepage to showcase popular videos, recommendations and recently uploaded videos.

April 2008

Video pages are now more flexible and search results pages use a great "TV view" mode that lets you play videos without leaving the page.

January 2009

Google announces that it will drop video uploads to focus on improving the search technology. "We've always maintained that Google Video's strength is in the search technology that makes it possible for people to search videos from across the web, regardless of where they may be hosted. And this move will enable us to focus on developing these technologies further to the benefit of searchers worldwide."

Also see:
Why is YouTube more popular than Google Video?
Google Video tips
Key press releases


  1. Good overview!

    Am I the only one thinking some of their later additions are obvious in retrospect? Like a Flash player and web-based video uploads?

    I expect them to add web videos one of these days...

  2. no i think that some of their later additions are obvious in retrospect
    like a flash player and you were right they are i looked on other google parts how good are you

  3. I think most of these changes were for the better until they dropped the video uploading service.


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