Friday, October 06, 2006

Google to buy YouTube (?)

Reports from the Wall St. Journal indicate Google is looking to acquire YouTube for $1.6 billion dollars. The talks have been described as tentative, and the deal could disolve at any time. Here's CIO.com on Google's bid to buy the leading online video community:

In September, YouTube nabbed almost 46 percent of all U.S. visits to video Web sites, while the video section of News Corp.’s MySpace.com came in second with 21.2 percent, according to Hitwise. Google Video came in third with 11 percent, followed by Microsoft’s MSN Video with 6.8 percent and Yahoo’s Yahoo Video with 5.6 percent.

YouTube, in typical startup fashion, approached the market aggressively, opening up their service to anyone wanting to upload their videos, and quickly became a phenomenon. It embraced tagging and sharing features, creating the most popular online video community.

Meanwhile, Google took a much more conservative approach, at first only featuring videos obtained through formal agreements with professional production houses. Consequently, users had to pay to view many of the videos in the catalogue. Months later, it added an upload feature for regular users, but closely policed submissions. It wasn’t until recently that it opened wide the service’s door and added tagging and sharing capabilities.

Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL are also playing catch-up to YouTube, whose model these large Internet companies are adopting.

YouTube has vaulted to the top by taking risks and giving people what they want. The site has become a social phenomenon due to the fact that almost anyone can make a silly video, upload their clip and become a YouTube star. It's almost like an Mtv for the "reality-TV" generation. Who will become the Billy Idol and Madonna of the YouTube age?