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Google and Yahoo! set their sites on video

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By Carol Krol

Hell-bent to index yet another medium, uber-competitors Google and Yahoo have both released search tools for video content.

Google announced the launch of a test version of Google Video this week, which will allow users to search TV program content. Yahoo! last week began running a video search button on its home page to enable users to directly access video content online.

The announcements, coming within days of each other, is a now-familiar pattern for Google and Yahoo!, which tend to release new products within days of each other.

"We recognized that being able to search video content is important to our users," said Stephanie Ichinose, a spokeswoman at Yahoo! "As other technologies accelerate the amount of video content that exists online, having a dedicated video search product is key."

Yahoo!’s video search is currently in beta. "We’ll continue to update and enhance it," Ichinose said, adding that the company will work with entertainment and media brand partners, such as RealNetworks and TVEyes.

Rather than merely providing text links to video, the Yahoo! product captures video content and displays it as individual thumbnails, which users can then play by clicking on the link.  In addition, Yahoo! treats the video as an "RSS for a media format." That gives online content publishers the ability to upload their video content to Yahoo!’s index.

"We had a huge response from online content publishers," Ichinose said.

Google Video, also in beta, is somewhat different. It enables users to search across closed captioning content of TV programs that Google began indexing last month. Google will continue to add TV content from content providers including PBS, C-SPAN, Fox News and the NBA.

"What Google did for the Web, Google Video aims to do for television," said Larry Page, co-founder and president of products at Google, in a statement.

The company explained that if a person enters a query—for example, "iPod"—Google Video returns a list of TV programs that have still video images and text excerpts from the point in a program when the search-term word was uttered. But Google Video does not provide an actual video stream.

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