Cross Loader

Ain’t that smart: Hey!Spread gives you video uploads to multiple destinations. Currently, it’s YouTube, Google Video, DailyMotion, Blip, Metacafe, Photobucket, Yahoo Video, MySpace, and Putfile. Local heroes like Sevenload aree left out (for now). As the nice folks of Particles explain: Spreading videos is something extremely boring and time consuming. Oh so true. And sometimes, it’s even true for watching videos.

Is Google run by morons?

Mark Cuban did put it on the map. Only a moron would buy YouTube. Well, here comes Mr. Google, allegedly offering some 1.6 Billion USD. Whoo-hoo, here we go. Is Google run by morons? Probably not. But they have to cater to analysts (which might be even worse).

I still think: as a business, YouTube is worth a nickel and a dime.
As a buying-growth-scenario, the deal might save Google’s mega valuation for a couple of months. Just look at the latest comScore stats.

TRAFFIC DATA
__________________________________________________________
Select Online Video Sites (Note: Not an official ranking)
Total Unique Visitors (000)
August 2006
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore Media Metrix

Total Unique Visitors (000)
Select Sites Aug-06
———————-

Yahoo! Video 21,141
MySpace Videos 19,406
YouTube 19,089
MSN Video 15,414
Google Video Search 11,891

Google Video + YT would guarantee the number 1 spot for at least 6 months. But obviously the people aggregators like MySpace, Yahoo and the like beat Google’s dried up services approach.

Which probably means, they shouldn’t buy YT, but Facebook. But Google buying traffic to save a valuable property? That would be a scary thought. Well anyway. On a mid term perspective, it could always be argumented that it will help solidify Google’s entry as the video ad engine of choice.

YouTubed, YouDoomed?

Is Mark Cuban right? In his post The Coming Dramatic Decline of Youtube. Mark is making a gazillion valid points. Yes, YouTube’s “business” is based upon inciting copy right infringements on a massive scale. Yes, the other part is the Come to our website and use our video hosting services, we can party like its 1999 all over again ! And yes, the whole model is fairly easy to copy. Even for the most obtuse copyright owner (at least the technology).

But his obituary for might be a bit premature. Think about it. Mark is wondering, why it is that until Universal Music Group apparently started to put the pressure on them, no one had sued them. Considering the RIAA will sue your grandma or a 12 year old at the drop of a hat, the fact that Youtube is building a traffic juggernaut around copyrighted audio and video without being sued is like…. well Napster at the beginning as the labels were trying t written to figure out what it meant to them. With the MGM vs Grokster ruling, its just a question of when Youtube will be hit with a charge of inducing millions of people to break copyright laws , not if.

Thing is: the YouTube model might have 1999 written all over. But there are some things copyrights holder presumably learned in the past seven years.

– killing Napster didn’t do a thing. Instead of one single (and thereby controllable) place, the darknet became just a little darker.

– offering legit spaces isn’t a sure path to success. Defunct download portals are littering the way back engine and the balance sheets of quite some formidable companies. Sony Connect, anybody?

– a virtual monopoly by Napster would have been nice: take the law stick, and beat them into submission. Try this with Steve Jobs.

Sure, you could build an online radio out of YouTube songs. Sure, you could download everything, too (if you insist). But why bother, as a copyright holder? Make them clean up their act (finger printing for background music, blanket licensing deals), make them bleed, let them do your marketing, and let them foot the bill.

At least, that would be true for the whole music industry. If you’re a nobody, YouTube might make you a star. If you’re a soso-somebody, YouTube put’s your videos On Air (whilst MTV is even rejecting your emails). If you’re a big act, you make YouTube pay. So everyone’s a winner.
With video content, it’s a bit more difficult. The basic difference: if you like a song, you’ll listen to it over and over (until your next door neighbor threatens to call the cops). Moving images is different. Watching the same movie over and over again is all you need if you’re in the three to nine age bracket. Otherwise it’s pretty straightforward: you watch it, you dump it (or collect it, and never watch it again).

Videos are like jokes: you heard the punch line, and that’s it. And don’t try any reruns on me (heard/watched this one before). That makes the video sharing ecosphere a bit more complicated. Let’s try to structure it a bit. It’s mostly about one time events vs serialized entertainment. For serialized stuff, the YouTube are a sure winner. People take out snippets they like. The best ones get traction and multiply by themselves. With one time events, it depends on your goals.

Just some ideas thrown in: Most theatrical releases need the big screen anyway. Maybe a director’s cut on DVD would be fine, too. But a pixelated Flash movie on a PC screen? Movies can gain a lot. Look at Borat – The Movie. Ali G.’s everywhere, from MySpace to vSocial to veoh. Legit posts mixed with user uploads. Hey, makes me want to watch the real thing.
Shorts can make you famous. Film and people aggregators like YouTube can’t make you rich, but make you famous. But if your business depends on selling just this one film, you’re dead.

But what’s that supposed to YouTube? The rumors of its death are slightly exaggerated. But if they don’t get a hold on a whole lot of stupid money pretty soon, they might just wish those rumors would have been true. Because dredging along is a rather exhausting exit.

The changing media business model

Forrester’s Charlene Li wraps up a panel she led on The changing media business model. I’m probably overreacting here a bit, as the idea of panels like that usually is to scare the s**t out of the incumbents to generate some fresh consulting business (hehe). And with most of the things she’s mentioning in here post, I would agree 100%. But then I read this paragraph, which I find a bit misleading.
Media companies in the past derived their value from either: 1) their distribution channel; or 2) the content they created. I believe that in the future media companies will generate the bulk of their value from serving their ability to aggregate and serve audiences better than the competition.

Well, some media companies already do that. As an example: It’s the core asset of any tv network. Owning a distribution channel is important; the channel we’re running reaches about 1.2 million German households; nice to start with, but the real battle is definitely somewhere else. In digital tv, network capacity is already almost a commodity And with IPTV, it definitely is.
So it just might be, that some top tier production houses will join the ranks of aggregators. If your brand, derived from relentless on air promotion (AKA scheduled programming on a major network), is strong enough, you’ll now have the chance become your own audience aggregator.

Unfortunately, the big question ist still lumbering: even if you aggregate a sizeable audience, how are you going to convert eyeballs into revenue? Look at YouTube. Billions are watching. But where’s the scalable business model? AdSense as the poor man’s answer for media sales can’t be taken serious as a solution. And cutting some special deals with some media houses makes good PR, takes a lot of time and probably barely covers the legal cost of reviewing the contracts.

Thing is: your business model depends on your place in the media value chain. In b2c it’s either product sales or ad sales. In b2b it’s either product sales or selling services.

Where would you place, for example, digg? Again, AdSense is nice, but. Now let’s look for an equivalent in traditional media.
How about this (I’m not sure whether Kevin likes this comparison): a TV Guide for the techno-cognoscenti audience, based on a recommendation engine, which tracks certain explicit behaviours?

Now, let’s look at the TV Guide model: b2c product sales (the printed guide), ad sales (the printed guide, the web, tv), b2b services (tv guide on screen), b2b product sales (EPG data) and so on and so on.
A great company, an undisputed global market leader in it’s field. But still: just an aggregator of meta data to tv content. The real business lies somewhere else.

So let’s be careful: most of the stuff we’re talking here about is meta content. Important, yes. And, combined with the (technical) cost of production and distribution being in free fall, good for quite some tectonic movements.

But let’s be reasonable: Give me a camcorder and iMovie and a broadband connection, and I will compete with “Americas Funniest Home Videos”. But I take any bet that nobody reading this comment will be a able to produce a full season of “Desperate Housewifes” in his past time.

So back to Charlene Li: The goal of the panel: to give “traditional media” attendees an idea of how new technologies are changing the way consumers interact with media. Yup. Makes more sense. The panel on the changing media business model is postponed.
Via RSS Blogger

Quaero? Good question.

French mega-blogger Loic Le Meur is making a point. He sees 10 reasons why the French search engine will fail. If you’re not in the loop: Quaero is a very French search engine project, with some kind of a German appendix. It’s (jointly?) run (?) by nimble startups like France Télécom, Thomson, Siemens AG and Thales. The basic idea seems to be transfer about 250 Million Euros in governement funding into the koffers of companies who will not even notice this windfall whilst delivering after five years of major league researching a multimedia search engine, which at least will be able to deliver what BBN’s Podzinger can deliver right now (audio to text) and then some.

But let’s get back to Loic’s points:

1- Can’t spell it.
Stupid names are not a problem. (QED: Colloquially, a sap is a weak or gullible person. Also known as dupe; see confidence trick.) Not owning the domain, either (prevents you from trying to trademark the hard to spell project name).

2- Centralized.
There are no centralized projects on the web that succeed. I know what you mean. But, of course, some exceptions do apply. Most notably: Google, Yahoo, eBay …

3- Secret versus beta.
Somtimes, I think, it’s time for web based beta blockers. Because mostly it’s smoke screening. Look at Google. Services like Froogle are/deserve to be in endless beta. But the secret project (world domination by abducting top software engineers into the Googleplex, introducing them to a 2 month brainwash and then …) is still, well: secret. I guess.

4- No buzz, no adoption.
Wait, Loic. We’re talking 5 year plans here. Quaero doesn’t need any buzz right now (well, we’re buzzing here …) as there’s not even a need yet for a domain for the service we cannot spell as the real product is only supposed to be ready in about 5 years.

5- A galaxy of actors who compete to get the subventions and don’t get much noticed for their latest web innovations
Yes, now it’s getting scary. It’s a powerful roster of partners. But if you want to build the prototype of the car for the mid 21st century, you probably wouldn’t start with talks to Nestlé.

6- Not really international.
‘scuse me. How about Google, Yahoo and the likes? Setting up a sales office in Hamburg, Paris or Munich doesn’t make you an international company. And not being really international is obviuosly not a recipe for disaster.

7- A neverending story.
Quaero has been announced as a 5 years project when Google is only barely 8 years old, where will Google be in 5 years when Quaero is finally launched ?
See. It’s not neverending. The life expectancy is exactly five years.

8- Not enough euros.
Outsmarting beats outspending. (Correction: would beat.) In it’s humble beginnings, Google didn’t bath in billions. So in theory, Quaero should have a chance.

9- Subventions euros are not worth venture capital euros.
Uhm, the source of the money is not the problem (in Latin: non olet). The question is: where to put it. VCs and the government share one thing: they’re all about other people’s money. But any VC betting 250 Million EUR to seed a company trying to beat a superrich global market leader with an unproven concept would immediately be awarded with the Nick Leeson Medal in gold.

10- Google is a thousand startups
[…] How many european startups could the Government help launch if these 250 M€ were invested in them ?

And that’s the point. Instead of playing the hare and the hedgehog, they launched a hare-brained single shot.
Why not open source Quaero and engage all individuals who would like to challenge Google’s position ? If the aim is to have an alternative and successful search engine, that it probably the way to go. It’s certainly not by trying to create centralized “multi-heads missiles” in a decentralized World where building communities matter more than the Country they originated from.

Exactly. Or why not seed 250+ search start-ups whilst offering the current Quaero partner a purchase option. Because, it’s a bit like Loic’s ten points. Most of the arguments are somewhat offleading (sez me). But in the end, he delivers his shot.

UGC – billions and billions of $ made

Finally, finally I get it. User Generated Content (UGC) is already a billion dollar industry. I mean: look at Google.

Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped is quoting Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Googles Pressday 2006: “We’re moving to the next state of the internet where it’s all about people and expression” – search is still the focus, he adds.

But why would search qualify as UGC? To quote Schmidt again: The Google “aha” moment for many was when you use their search and say, “wow, that’s amazing.” Eric says these small personal “aha” moments created Google’s viralness, and they’re different for different persons.

Search is personal. Well, maybe not the single word you type into a box and press return. But your search patterns are pretty unique. And with Google Co-op, search results and UGC get a bit closer together.

It might not be ready for prime time (The product is an open platform but it’s very difficult to understand and use right now, even for a geek like me, writes Steve Rubel in Micro Persuasion). But the gist is: you can label websites you like – and people can subscribe to your choices. Everythings going to be integrated into search (as search is just an interface to a collection of information).

Searching the engine already creates you a potentially personal collection of content. Tagging and qualifying those results creates another layer of meta-content – which now can be re-fed into the search engine.
The NY Times quotes Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products. “A little bit of human involvement goes a long way,” Ms. Mayer said. Which is a cutesy way of saying that algorithms can get you just so far. In a certain way, the geekly kingdom is following the tracks of Yahoo! and its latest buyouts (Flickr, Webjay, del.icio.us …).

As an example: Palatable computer generated restaurant recommendations would be real rocket science. Why? Taste buds are fickle. That’s why the typical consumer recommendation site are quack, too. If you want to have a nice dinner, why would you trust the recommendation of a persons who’s social life (or, at least the part that you’re aware of) is about recommending products and services you’ll never need? Let’s see, how Co-op tackles this.
Google Notebook takes yet another step of blending user interactions (searching, choosing from results, dismissing most of them …) into content. The idea: take the bland results. And let the user pick the best hits and annotate them. “If someone has planned a great Hawaiian vacation with great research into snorkel boats, they should be able to share it,” Ms. Mayer said.

As Steve Rubel writes regarding Co-op: I would love to see them layer in Blogger so that there is some editorial around these results as well. We haven’t seen Notebook yet. But it does already sound a bit like Blogger light. Instead of Blog This, it’s put it in your Notebook.