NEW YORK - Google Inc. unveiled a video-viewing channel on its Internet-leading search engine Monday, creating another media outlet that may open new moneymaking opportunities for a company already so profitable its stock has tripled to above $300 in 10 months.
Watching the amateur and professional videos in Google's index requires free software available at http://video.google.com . The software, consisting of about 1 megabyte, won't do anything except stream Google's videos through the Internet Explorer or Firefox Web browsers.
The limited scope of Google's viewer means it won't be competing - for now at least - with the popular multimedia players made by Microsoft Corp. and RealNetworks Inc.
The Mountain View-based company announced the video viewer just a few hours before its red-hot stock reached a new closing high. Google's shares ended Monday's trading session up $6.85, or 2.3 percent, to $304.10 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
The stock went public last August at $85 a share.
Yahoo Inc., which runs the Internet's second most popular search engine behind Google, also indexes videos that can be streamed through the multimedia players made by other companies, including Microsoft and RealNetworks. Some of Yahoo's videos include programming licensed from major television networks such as CBS and MTV.
Google isn't streaming television content, although its index includes the transcripts and still images from a wide range of shows.
The Google viewer will give Web surfers their first chance to sample the material that the search engine has been stockpiling since April when it initially invited people to submit videos. While all the currently available videos are free, Google hopes to eventually charge for some of material in partnership with the content providers.
Google hasn't set a timetable for introducing the paid videos, said Peter Chane, a senior product manager for the company. Chane wouldn't reveal how many free videos are available through the search engine.
The videos available Monday covered eclectic topics, including breakdancing moves, gardening tips, sarong tying, the 2003 fall of Baghdad and even a guide to advertising on Google.
If it charges for some video, Google could lessen its financial dependence on advertising, which has been a source of concern for some analysts. Online advertising, mostly through text-based links, accounted for virtually all of its $369 million profit during the first quarter.
Google has acknowledged it is working on a new online payment product that many industry observers expect to be linked to paid videos. Company officials have declined to discuss the details of its payment product.
The video viewer also could drive even more advertising to Google, said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li. She believes Google's new viewing software is designed to build an audience ripe for video advertising.
Neither Google nor Yahoo are currently showing ads next to the videos found through their search engines.