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YouTube's Growing Competition 139

Posted by Zonk
from the how-many-dancing-kid-videos-do-we-need dept.
bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek looks at YouTube's rapidly growing imitators and questions the site's long-term viability. In addition to the competition, YouTube continues to face problems caused by its reliance on copyrighted material; the site's popularity is service- (rather than emotion-) based, which makes it a ripe target for anyone that might replicate and improve the service. From the article: 'YouTube's own challengers are advancing at a rapid rate. AOL is re-engineering its video site to mirror YouTube's success, and CNN is launching CNN Exchange, which will house user-contributed video features. Then there are sites like Eefoof.com, Panjea.com, Revver and Blip.TV, which share up to 50 percent of ad page revenue with the creator of the videos. Others like Dabble.com (currently in beta) sort through all video hosting sites (like YouTube and its competition) for search content, while specialty video sites like Pornotube concentrate on one point of interest.'"
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YouTube's Growing Competition

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  • Dvorak (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:31AM (#15910460)
    No sooner does he endorse it or the end draws near....
  • pornotube (Score:2, Interesting)

    by llZENll (545605)
    http://www.pornotube.com/ [pornotube.com]

    Waves goodbye to your bandwidth.
  • by andrewman327 (635952) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:34AM (#15910476) Homepage Journal
    This happens with every Internet advancement. People proclaimed the end of EBay with time, but it is as strong as ever because they adjust to the situation better than most companies (buying PayPal, partnering with the USPS, et cetera). Other examples are the search engine wars and e-mail. When GMail blew the top off of wimpy e-mail capacities, the competitors were quick to match it.


    Something important to note is that one user can upload videos to any or all of the top video sites. YouTube et al will have to offer some incentive for a user to stay with their service for the long term.

    • by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:53AM (#15910630)
      The big difference between eBay and YouTube is how it is used. You go to eBay and bid on items. The more items available, the more likely you are to go there. eBay has built a community. YouTube does have a community but its biggest boon comes from embedding videos into other pages, especially blogs. That can be easily replaced wholesale by similar technology and not many people would notice. Right now YouTube (much like GMail) offers a feature set at a price point that is not offered by many other providers. When (or perhaps if) other providers do catch up, it will be a lot harder for YouTube to stay on top than it was for eBay to stay on top.
      • "YouTube does have a community but its biggest boon comes from embedding videos into other pages, especially blogs. "

        I think you underestimate just how massive Youtube's site is. It's not uncommon to find vids that have 500+ comments attached to them. I know lots of people who go to Youtube just to find silly stuff and share it with their friends. Great time killer. My experience, of course, is simply anecdotal. I'm having a hard time imagining YouTube's fate being sealed very quickly.
    • On the other hand... For each example of a groundbreaking originator staying on top throughout the tumult of the spawn of their new industry, there are equal examples of similar innovators being robbed, stabbed in the back, and stomped by the competition.
      Often times the first one off the line is the one who ends up with an arrow in his back by the time they reach the finish. Look at everything invented by Xerox PARC.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:29AM (#15910913) Journal
      There's yet another factor remaining, so I'm going to just wait and see. Maybe Youtube will do just fine without any further incentives.

      The factor is: most me-too clones suck. There are a lot of PHBs... err... MBAs out there who seem to think that jumping on a bandwagon means doing the absolute crappiest job, with the cheapest unskilled monkeys off the street. And that you can just make up for that by adding some "features" that are just a PHBs ego trip, as opposed to even trying to understand what the market wants. (Think of all those dot-com era "features" like adding blinking text, or bright blue text on a green background.)

      It's not just Google or Ebay. Look at the iPod or iTunes too, at that. (And disclaimer, I'm not even an iPod or Apple fan, but I can still be disgusted with _stupid_ imitation when I see it.)

      E.g., you'd think that making yet another HDD based media player would be an easy enough proposition, no? Yet it took half a decade for people to even begin getting their act straight. Some were as big as a freaking brick (I still remember an Archos which was _literally_ as big as a 5" HDD), some had a nightmarish user interface (I'm looking at you, Creative), some insisted on ruining a perfectly good MP3 by re-converting it to their own proprieatry lossy compression in 64kbps (Sony, you suck), etc. And yet paradoxically a lot of them were actually more expensive than a similar capacity iPod. And when they tried adding a feature of their own, even one which might be useful in its own right, like video playback, it came at the expense of being badly implemented _and_ ending up costing more than a good laptop.

      Ditto for iTunes. It never ceases to amaze me how many bad ideas people try to cram into copying that... badly. Ranging from the functionality of their program or web site, to the music selection, to some hare-brained ideas like, basically, "I know! People would love to pay for the privilege of indentured servitude to us! I bet everyone just dreams of a service where we hold their whole music collection hostage, and can remotely render it useless if they even think of stopping paying monthly." I mean, seriously, wtf? Who there thought that blatant extortion is a feature?

      Those are just two random examples. I could give more, but it's already too long a rant anyway.

      The moral is: don't underestimate how crappy a job some people can do when they try to copy something they don't even understand. I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of PHBs out there managed to get even copying Youtube wrong. It may seem like a clear and straightforward idea, that noone can possibly get wrong, but then the same could have been said about everything else which did get copied all wrong.
      • Dude, I agree with most of what you say, and you were really on a roll there until you talked about the iTunes clones' "extortion".

        I imagine you're talking about things like Yahoo Music/Napster/Rhapsody/etc that offer $5/month unlimited music service? If so, I just don't get the extortion comment. I'm not on any of those yet, but am seriously thinking of joining Yahoo music unlimited, because I think it actually offers an added service on top of what itunes offers. You can still buy individual songs permane
    • Ebay has a solid revenue stream. They collect money on every item posted for sale. They started making money right away. (I'm talking in absolute terms, not when they climbed out of the red.)

      YouTube's revenue stream, currently, is advertising, which does not provide enough to make it profitable on its own yet (I believe). They are burning through cash, apparently waiting for their business plan to descend from on high.

      Make no mistake - YouTube is fun, and I love it. I just hope they find a way to stay

    • by owlnation (858981)

      People proclaimed the end of EBay with time, but it is as strong as ever...

      And they may well be correct...

      It is not strong as ever.

      Its share price is less than one half of what it was one year ago, there was talk of them buying back shares. Their US, UK and Germany (pretty much their only true strong markets) are stagnating. They are seriously getting their asses kicked in China. Competition in the form of Google and others is a constant threat. Brand Value is decreased due to rising fraud, poor custo

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:35AM (#15910484) Homepage Journal
    but brand recognition is whats a winner here.

    I am reminded of iPod killing headlines.
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:41AM (#15910537) Homepage Journal
      Granted it's been a while since I left the back end of the target demographic, but CNN? I somehow doubt CNN is the hip, happening, with-it, groovy brand name the cool kids are into these days.
      • CNN must be smoking the same stuff as Walmart [slashdot.org].
      • Granted it's been a while since I left the back end of the target demographic, but CNN? I somehow doubt CNN is the hip, happening, with-it, groovy brand name the cool kids are into these days.

        CNN is chasing after 'the long tail' here I suspect. Not all users of the 'net or the web are 'cool kids', or interesting in becoming or hanging out with the same.
      • CNN's little project is actually powered by Blip.

        CNN has been "reporting" on what's going on on YouTube on a fairly regular basis in the afternoon, sometimes more than twice. They're segments that basically consist of hooking a computer up to their video feed with some young guy saying "so as you can really see, YouTube is buzzing over this it's just crazy."

        The only time I've seen them do it in a way that it seemed like a good idea, was when they were covering the Israeli-Hezbollah war recently during
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:42AM (#15910547) Homepage Journal
      And with names like these... Eefoof.com, Panjea.com, Revver and Blip.TV

      YouTube's brand recognition will remain just fine. Those are some of the worst web site names I've ever heard. Randomly pounding the keyboard would create site names that are easier to remember.
      • I agree, on 1 of those, panjea, I'd probably turn the J into a G and maybe or maybe not add an extra A if I tried to type it say, in 2 hours from memory.

        eefoof? it's pretty easy to remember, silly sure, but easy to remember and type it's only 3 "letters" e-f-o eefoof

        Revver same deal, r-e-v
    • by mrxak (727974) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:43AM (#15910555)
      Brand recognition isn't everything. With sites like Truveo [truveo.com] and Blinkx TV [blinkx.tv], you can just search through all the various video websites out there, no matter what site they're on.
      • Brand recognition isn't everything. With sites like Truveo and Blinkx TV, you can just search through all the various video websites out there, no matter what site they're on.

        I'm glad that your post was rated "Interesting" and not "Insightful".

        But I would have voted "Funny" because those other websites you mention also have pretty poor names themselves.
        • Heh, I would've preferred Informative. In any case, yes, the names of these sites are stupid. However, my point was that sites like YouTube that restrict their searches to themselves are inferior to those that can search through many dozens of video sites. They free up people to pick the most user-friendly site to upload to, rather than which is the most "popular", and still get lots of views.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:46AM (#15910583)
      but brand recognition is whats a winner here.

      Which is why I do all my searches on AltaVista instead of Gooble or whatever it is.
    • but brand recognition is whats a winner here.

      Are you sure? It a recognised brand for content uploaders, but they tend to be better informed as far as finding somewhere they can upload free video to.

      As far as content consumers go, the vast majority of people who visit youtube do so (IMO) via a link from an email. They'll click on that link whether its to youtube or some other generic content hosting site.

      I am reminded of iPod killing headlines.

      iPod users are shackled to their hardware ipod via their collecti
  • Shocking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:36AM (#15910488)
    In a shocking development, all of the sites mentioned in the slashdot article are working just fine... except pornotube.com.
    • Pornotube was kindof flakey before /. mentioned it.

      I know this via mental telepathy, and by no other means.
    • In a shocking development, all of the sites mentioned in the slashdot article are working just fine... except pornotube.com.

      Except YouTube, you mean. The site has been down for the last couple of hours at least, with a lesser example of those Web 2.0 cutesy messages that El Reg has been known to rage against.

      We're currently putting out some new features, sweeping out the cobwebs and zapping a few gremlins.

      We'll be back later. In the meantime, please enjoy a layman's explanation of our website...

      (MS Paint d

    • it works just fine, it says something like "database error 04", and when you reload it's error 03, then 02... you get the idea. At 0 it works...
    • How can pornotube get around 2257 restrictions?
  • Google video? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anethema (99553) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:36AM (#15910496) Homepage
    Pretty amazing the article doesnt mention Google Video...it has to be one of Youtube's major competitors too. Has a simpler interface and better search...
    • Re:Google video? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stienman (51024) <adavis AT ubasics DOT com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:51AM (#15910619) Homepage Journal
      Has a simpler interface and better search

      And does a much better job of obeying copyright.

      Youtube is only as good as its current copyright stance lasts. Once a major lawsuit from a copyright holder happens, Youtube is going to go the way of napster and MP3.com. It'll still be around, but it'll probably have to start erring on the side of too restrictive. Google started out trying to avoid copyright problems, and it will be able to defend itself against copyright lawsuits. That being the case, they won't need to have a period of time where they overreact.

      Still, I hate searching in youtube. There's way to much junk in it - not unlike the internet as a whole - and they don't rate videos like google seems to be able to do. Perhaps they need to use the google rank of each video (this video is linked to by x websites using the following keywords) so better videos float to the top of searches.

      As the information increases, good searching still seems to be key to a good service. Google seems to know its business. I'm waiting for them to bend their processing power to analyzing video and audio to automatically pull out people and words.

      -Adam
      • I haven't used either site extensively, but when it came to searching for videos of dudes being punched in the nuts, Google Video definitely came out ahead. YouTube had no shortage of nut-punches, but nothing they had to offer compared to this [google.com].
  • by deft (253558) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:39AM (#15910519) Homepage
    "while specialty video sites like Pornotube concentrate on one point of interest"

    Well waking up to a Slashdot story specifically referring to what's in my pants certainly is a new one.
  • Brand is important (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordSnooty (853791) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:40AM (#15910521)
    Forgive me if this is raised in TFA... but the brand that youtube now has is very important. If I want to see a video of some viral incident, or a TV trailer or clip, I turn to youtube, because I'm familiar with it. I've only just about heard of some of the others, never mind used them. Surely we saw the same effect in the search engine market... everyone knows that Google isn't necessarily the best, but I still go there first and only go somewhere else if I get no joy. The same will happen with youtube - just what can its competitiors offer that beats youtube? Easily accessible video at a good speed and with a big audience (to both see your footage and to upload their own interesting clips) is what it's for, and that's what they do well. Why go anywhere else? And naturally, the last thing I want is the fragmenting of the market, with different comaparable audiences at all sites, since then I'd have to search multiple sites instead of one.
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:40AM (#15910530) Journal
    Who wants to "compete" with YouTube's "business model"?

    Damn you, YouTube! I can lose money through a free video service *much* faster than you can! I can have an even sketchier idea of how to recover costs! I can make it easier for people to block ads!
  • by Mr Z (6791) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:42AM (#15910548) Homepage Journal

    Do any of these copycats offer actual video downloads, or are all of these guys locking up content behind various streaming schemes?

    Also, is there any way to bust the video out of a Flash Video player? I'd like to view some of these videos under Linux on AMD64 w/out installing the 32-bit Firefox and Flash It seems like it should be possible to extract the streaming link from the Flash file somehow and just grab the content w/out the player. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

  • It's not easy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrAndrews (456547) <mcm@ 1 8 8 9.ca> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:43AM (#15910553) Homepage
    The problems for YouTube aren't easy to overcome. They've got a reputation for being free and easy to use, which is really the problem. If they decided to implement a poster-frame ad at the end of each video to generate revenue (like Revver does), they'd be dealing with money, which would immediately necessitate making things harder to do. For one, the identity of the uploader would be more important, as would the possibility of Daily Show clips getting some random uploader cash. On top of that, advertisers are very picky about where their ads appear, so while they might be happy to have 10,000,000 impressions, they wouldn't be happy if half of them came from sites that were otherwise porn-related (well, not necessarily). The administrative overhead of doing ads would probably undercut its value, and the friction it creates would make people move to free-er sites.

    Maybe they just need to create a second class of user, verified accounts, where they can put ads on their videos*. I figure they've got to do something soon, because their reputation is about to eat them alive.

    * this assumes that single-frame ads at the end of videos are not offensive. YMMV.
    • Sorry, I accidentally erased the first line of my comment: None of the competition will matter if YouTube implodes before they can eat marketshare... the quickest way to lose marketshare is to appear to be doing a bait-and-switch, which may be where they're headed.
  • User-created content is at the center of YouTube's web-2.0 pedigree: the idea that the "new" fluid Internet model will be based on user interaction and contribution.

    It seems that this is presicely what is meant by how the internet is a World of Ends [worldofends.com]. As upload capability becomes more and more prevalent, it will become more representative of the global population. The question then becomes- Is this a good thing?

    Shallow content [shallowhalmovie.com], rumormonging [snopes.com], and misinformation [venganza.org] will lead to a populace that is more popular,
  • It's much the same as YouTube. However, they also have contests and stuff. Right now they're having a contest called "America's Dream Date" where you and some "lucky" contestant get to go to Paris for a week. Also, they're giving away an iPod nano.

    It's a very new site, so the content is thin, but it seems to work, much the same as YouTube.

    RS

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:48AM (#15910596) Homepage
    These sites are a good reflection on the current state of video technology. All these sites use Flash video: A low-quality proprietary solution that requires on a 3rd-party plug-in. The only one that tried using a standard video format was Google Video, and they quickly abandoned that in the beta phase because it was too complicated to support.

    I think it is a sad state of affairs that these sites don't (or can't) just use embedded mp4 files. It shows how video standards have failed and a proprietary solution is more ubiquitous. This will make archival very difficult.
    • The problem is, there isn't a player/format that can be a) site skinned, b) load as fast, or c) stream as quickly as flash/flv. Embedding any video other than through flash is a nightmare for the end user, and can't be easily integrated into the site.

      The world does need a free alternative to flash, but proprietary or not it's by LEAGUES the best solution for web video.
      • What I've never understood is why video is treated completely differently from images. For example:
        <img src="foobar.jpg" />
        JPEG is a standard image format that browsers display in-line. Now, why can't I just do this:
        <img src="foobar.mp4" />
        MP4 is a standard video format that every player(*) can play, so why don't browsers use that?

        If for some reason that isn't desirable, just send the MP4 file the way you do HTML and PDF - that works just fine. (Ex:
        • This entire discussion works if you replace .MP4 with .AVI as well. AVI is a de-facto standard though, not an ISO standard.

          AVI is no good for streaming. That's why Windows Media Video is encoded into an ASF container (typically renamed to .WMV) instead of an AVI.
    • The growing ubiquity of Flash for video shows one of the strengths of closed-source software, namely that they can license patented technology and deploy it widely.

      If an open source project tried to license the same video compression algorithms how much would it cost? (It'd basically be the last software license the patent holder would ever sell.) Who would pay? (If your response is "death to software patents" you're missing the point.)
    • The sad state of affairs is that, of all the possible video players, Flash is the most ubiquitous and easy to support right now. At any rate, there's nothing inherently low-quality about Flash video. It's just that YouTube, Google Video, and similar sites all want to use as little bandwidth as possible so the videos are encoded at low-quality bitrates (around 250 kbps video as I recall, with 64 kbps mono sound). If you have a decent source video and double that bitrate, the encoded Flash video actually l
    • I think it is a sad state of affairs that these sites don't (or can't) just use embedded mp4 files.

      I'm kind of torn myself. Mp4 would be better quality and could be downloaded, but I don't really have any desire to download 99% of the videos on Youtube. And I've got flash players on WinXp, Ubuntu, and Mac OS X so i'm not really hard pressed to worry about it.
    • The flash video player works very well and is the ideal solution for a site like YouTube. WindowsMedia/Real/Quicktime embedded videos are slow to load and tend to not work correctly. The flash videos work every time and are very fast. MP4 won't work until a plugin capable of loading the videos quickly and easily exists (quicktime is not even close).
    • Can you name one format of internet/streaming video that doesn't require a 3rd-party plug-in for most OSs? There isn't one. As a matter of fact I've read statements that say that Flash is the #1 video playing plugin on the internet in terms of market penetration and installed base, with something like 97%.

      All the cutting edge video streaming sites are now using Flash because of the installed base, and because it's got the best video compression / fast streaming at the moment, as well as being the most flexi
  • by tsu doh nimh (609154) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:51AM (#15910617)
    Yeah, all the sites are working? Haha. Check out the Youtube homepage: "We're currently putting out some new features, sweeping out the cobwebs and zapping a few gremlins. We'll be back later. In the meantime, please enjoy a layman's explanation of our website..." Gremlins, my ass.
  • I'm a little surprised Jumpcut didn't rate mention. Granted, not everyone needs its editing features, but if you do it's hard to beat.
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info&devinmoore,com> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:08AM (#15910737) Homepage Journal
    The instant pornotube and the other adult Youtube clones are posted to Slashdot, Youtube dives to 10 trillionth overall.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:11AM (#15910760) Homepage Journal
    YouTube uses a particular Flash Video Player [jeroenwijering.com] script which is out there free (Creative Commons) for non-commercial use, and licensable for commercial use. With that, some content management software (done from scratch if you're brave, otherwise just tweak the crap out of one of the zillion CMS packages out there), and an obscene amount of bandwidth, you can have your own YouTube clone up and running in no time.
  • ... I want my Python clips!
  • Google still wins (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:37AM (#15910994) Homepage Journal
    Google wins. Why? They offer the option to download the damn videos.

    It's the only way to get the videos on your iPod, PSP, Gameboy (via Play-Yan micro), etc...

    I wish, however, that Google would get rid of that "Windows/Mac" option (AVI sucks) and replaced it with MP4 and H264.

    Granted, the iPod option is H.264 but it's resized to 320x240 and the PSP is MP4 but it's resized for the PSP's widescreen which is also lower resolution than my computer display.
    • Google wins. Why? They offer the option to download the damn videos.
      Using Firefox? Check out VideoDownloader: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2390/ [mozilla.org]
    • Uh, the video content in Google's AVI wrapper is DIVX mpeg-4 with mp3 audio.
      Granted they should have called it "PC/Mac" or just "Computer", but they're using a standard format at least for the video.

      A pity they went with mp3 for the sound, but who knows, perhaps they bought a licence from Fraunhofer/Thompson.

      • AVI equals crap IMO. AVI is a wrapper and you never know which CODECs are required to play the file.

        DivX MPEG-4 isn't real MPEG-4 as far as I know (though I could be wrong) and MP3 was the best choice a decade ago.

        Everyone should be using real .mp4 files (MPEG-4 or H.264 video with AAC audio), if you ask me. No more AVI/Quicktime/Real Media/Windows Media nonsense. And please no comments about .mp4 files using quicktime as a wrapper... .mp4 = MPEG-4/H.264. You won't need 500 CODECs.
  • Competition... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fanther (949376)
    An added difficulty for YouTube is that it is lacking an emotional hook to differentiate itself from a pure functional service (think iPod). Users visit YouTube not based on any of the brand's perceived values, but on its ability to give them what they want, when and how they want it.

    If the website is able to give users what they want, it does create 'perceived value' or positive emotions. If now this value is put in the context of e.g. the YouTube logo, I understand this brand becomes more valueable to
  • Maybe. (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:53AM (#15911104) Homepage Journal
    Just Maybe Senator Stevens was Right.

    YouTube, XTube, PornoTube...

    The internet really is a series of tubes.

  • The real challenge here is that Youtube relying on copyrighted content to get all the click-thru's from SE's prevents it from establishing any meaningful ad revenues.... One competitor who has seemingly figured out a way around this is http://www.gofish.com/ [gofish.com] , in addition to the normal video sharing application they launched a reality-TV like show where they are directing the user-base to submit specific types of videos to compete, thereby eliminating the copyright and Adult issues that plague advertisers.
  • by BillGod (639198)
    while specialty video sites like Pornotube concentrate on one point of interest.'" What one point of interest does pornotube concentrate on?
  • I'm sure Google Video is far more popular than a lot of the sites mentioned in the article summary (too many things to do to read the article itself), but yet it isn't mentioned...
  • What, no http://www.vmix.com [vmix.com] ?
  • So, I am biased because I have a friend who works here, but check out gofish [gofish.com] (ick, flash 9... oh well).

    Basically, it's the only immitator that I am aware of that is actually trying to go out and do "directed" content. Like, not just a bunch of people getting drunk and filming themselves laughing at thier own idiocy, but actually saying "hey people, we're gonna have a contest so, make a video about.... THIS".

    Not that I don't like the mindlessness you can see on youtube, of course. Sometimes that's fun, and
  • Well since Google Video is the only one that lets you download videos without logging in I think I'll stick with them for now, thanks.

    Does anyone know if Yahoo or Youtube lets you download even once you've logged in?

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