August 30, 2007
News: NBC and Fox have joined together in an online video project that has been nicknamed “the YouTube killer,” reflecting at least the intentions of its creators. Yesterday, the project announced its name — “Hulu” — on its website (still in beta). Jason Kilar, the CEO, even writes to explain the name: “Why Hulu? Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we’re building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it.”
Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch humorously points out that “hulu” means “butt” in two languages and “cease and desist” in Swahili. Salon points out that all names rhyme with themselves, so that’s no reason to pick a name.
Analysis: Hulu will focus on providing “premium” or “quality” video content from TV shows. It won’t include amateur, user-generated videos (as I understand it), so it’s hoping that viewers will prefer “premium” content over the amateur stuff on YouTube. Whether that strategy will be enough to compete with YouTube’s huge lead in user base, only time will tell. I think it will be an interesting battle to watch. I do like the look of the Hulu website so far, so at least they’ve hired some decent design people.
As for the name “Hulu,” I think if you have to explain it, it ain’t that good.
May 12, 2007
News: Joost is a website (still in beta) that provides “high-quality content” produced by big media (it has 150 channels already), served through a peer-to-peer network. At touts itself, Joost hopes to be “the world’s first broadcast-quality Internet television service.” This week, Joost announced $45 million in investments from 5 investors, “CBS, Global Expansion Index Ventures, Li Ka Shing Foundation, Sequoia Capital, and Viacom.” (more)
Analysis: Yes, it’s no surprise to see Viacom (which has sued YouTube) as an investor in Joost. I’ve started playing around with the beta version of Joost recently, and it has many things that look pretty slick. But it’s a totally different animal to me than YouTube. At least from what I’ve seen, Joost is basically getting your cable TV via the Internet. YouTube’s heavily driven by user-generated content. That’s why Joost is trying to distinguish itself as providing “high quality” content.
October 11, 2006
News: In Yahoo Feels Breath on Neck, Saul Hansell discusses how Yahoo tried to buy YouTube: “Yahoo itself tried to buy YouTube just a few weeks ago and got as close as negotiating price and terms, according to an executive briefed on the discussions. But the talks broke down, and Google swooped in and closed the deal quickly, just as it has in several recent partnership negotiations.”
Analysis: Hansell also notes that “Google has $11 billion in cash and a market value of $131 billion, while Yahoo has $4 billion in cash and is worth $34 billion.” Given these figures, the metaphor in the title of the article seems wrong. It should be something like, Yahoo Feels Dust in Face.
September 19, 2006
News: Microsoft launched its beta version of its video sharing software called Soapbox. It’s not completely open to the public, though: you have to sign up to receive a special invite for a private test. The full public launch apparently may be months away.
Analysis: Just another sign how hot the video file sharing industry is right now. Microsoft seems a little late to the game, again having to play catch-up. Bill Gates is a genius, but when’s no longer in charge of the day-to-day operations, things seem different for Microsoft.