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The YouTube phenomenon

April 13th, 2006

As I write this, a new company called YouTube is downloading 35 MILLION videos per day.

Sequoia Capital, which just advanced them another $8 million, is calling them "the forefront of a cultural shift in digital media entertainment."

It all sounds very impressive, but where’s the beef?

Some bumps in the road for YouTube – and its million and one copycat competitors:

* Bump in the Road #1: A million and one copycat sites

It’s a technically and financially trivial challenge to set up a "video share" site like YouTube. Yes, for the moment, YouTube is the frontrunner, but this is a long, long race and there is absolutely no barrier to entry in this business.

* Bump in the Road #2:  YouTube is America’s Funniest Home Videos on the Internet

Yes,  America’s Funniest Home Videos is a cash cow and it’s based on a brilliant concept. Let the audience knock themselves out submitting content.  Show the best submissions. Rake in the cash from advertisers.

YouTube is America’s Funniest Home Videos for the Internet, a business I’d sure like to own, but I’m not sure there’s much blue sky here. (See Bump in the Road #2.)  "The forefront of digital media entertainment?" Maybe for 12 year olds and bored office workers for a while.

* Bump in the Road #3:  No business model

Joke sites are exceedingly popular on the Internet and I’d venture to say a significant portion of traffic on the Internet falls into the joke category.

But who’s succeeded in building an Internet business based on the telling and transmitting of jokes, cute pictures of puppies and other pass-along ephemera?

So far, no one.

Is YouTube going to be any different? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong. I like YouTube.

I also like Google Video, BlinkTV, BlipTV. Bolt, Castpost, Clipshack, DailyMotion, Grouper, MeFeedia, OPenVlog, PicPix, PistolWimp, TrueVeo, vSocial…

You get the idea.

YouTube is kind of like the first guys who figured out how to print on paper.

For a brief shining moment, they dazzled the world.

Then the next day everyone was doing it.

There’s a business here for sure, but it’s nothing to write home about.

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  1. April 13th, 2006 at 15:22 | #1

    Here’s what one of the world’s leading experts said about new TV business models in the Internet Era:
    “Five years from now, we’ll have a much better idea of how it will all shake out. The problem is no one really knows what the new business model should be yet.” – Harold Vogel from “Entertainment Industry Economics.”
    Now THAT’S a safe way to be an expert 🙂
    I wonder how much he got for that advice.
    Seriously, direct marketers don’t have to wait five years or even five months to see how this is going to shake out.
    Video is killer for customer tesimonials, product demonstrations, and customer education. Good video will increase your traffic and it will increase your conversion too.

  2. April 14th, 2006 at 13:14 | #2

    YouTube is trying to deal with people who post copyrighted material:

  3. kenneth revell
    April 14th, 2006 at 18:32 | #3

    i think it will be a wile befor people
    realy get going puting video on the web
    the xpert say to do this and do that
    that you can have video on the web
    what they dont tell you is what they use to
    get it there
    like what is a good camera to use
    how long the video should be
    howto put it on the web
    and what format to use to get it there
    i now some people will use web cam
    andother will use real video camer camer
    what to you think?

  4. April 15th, 2006 at 19:17 | #4

    Consumers upload 35,000 videos to YouTube alone every day.
    It’s true that *some* people haven’t figured it out yet, but the reality is many, many people have and more are joining the party daily.
    Information about video cameras is hardly a state secret. Have you heard of Google?
    If you’re waiting for a guru to hold your hand and lead you every step of the way, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time.
    I recommend you read all the articles on this blog and then get started – or not, but for heaven’s sake, be resourceful.
    Ken McCarthy

  5. April 20th, 2006 at 05:51 | #5

    Ken, you have the patience of a saint. And, I just downloaded the rest of your system interviews (Podcasts! Why don’t you post them on iTunes?) and plan on listening to them on the way to work. They are great. Keep up the wonderful work.

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