Analysis: I haven’t tested this out yet (it doesn’t come out until June 29 at 6 p.m.), but I think the biggest question is the lack of a buttoned keyboard for people who use Blackberrys and text messages. Have you ever been to a Panera Bread store and watched their cashiers use a pen cap to type on the keyboard screen? That’s the problem. And there’s the cost.
News: YouTube already has audio filtering in place from Audible Magic, to help identify unauthorized music files on clips. Yesterday, YouTube announced that it is developing its own filtering for video content. Next month, YT will be testing the beta version of the filtering program with Disney and Time Warner, who agreed to be a part of the testing. More here and here.
Analysis: The video fingerprinting technology would be a huge development if successful. A lot of people mistakenly believe that such technology already exists. It doesn’t, at least not in effective fashion. Audio files are much easier to track (esp. through Audible Magic). The visual video files are more difficult. If YouTube and Google are successful in developing this new technology, concerns about copyright liability against YouTube start to diminish. The allegations that somehow YT’s business plan is based on promoting copyright infringement on its site become even more hollow.
News: Taiwanese American Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube, spoke at a conference of tech leaders in Taiwan. Chen said YouTube will be on cellphones by year’s end, and he suggested the possibility of a Taiwanese YouTube. According to one report, Chen also spoke about Web 3.0: “Chen said the Internet was moving from the so-called Web 2.0 era — user-generated content in a user-oriented environment — to the Web. 3.0 era, in which users are no longer tied to their PCs, while enjoying much more personalized and individualized content and services on the go.”
News: I reported yesterday about YouTube’s new, sleek feature for videos embedded in blogs (such as this one) from YouTube. Well, today, YT shut down the new feature. I’m not sure the reason, but YouTube received numerous comments — many of them quite negative — about the new feature. Most of the complaints didn’t like the intrusiveness of related videos popping up on screen, and possibly containing something other than the “family-oriented” or wholesome video they wanted in their blog.
Analysis: We’ll see how this shakes out. Obviously, YT could just change the default back to the old way, but allow users like me to switch on the new feature. That, of course, would probably slow the propagation of YT videos on other sites, compared to what it would have been with the new feature.
UPDATE, June 9: YouTube has announced that it has changed the new feature to address the negative reaction posted by some very vocal users. Now, the new bubbly “related video” thumbnails don’t appear until the end of watching an embedded video in a blog, when the “menu” pops up and you have to select it. No more “mouseover” effect. I can’t fine the “menu” icon yet on my embedded videos, so maybe YT is still working out the kinks.
News: Every video embedded from YouTube now has a face-lift — a slick feature at the bottom of the screen that gives you thumbnail images of related videos, in the hip, bubbly digital look popular today. OK, if you want to see the new look, just hit play below on the video and hover over the screen with your cursor and look for the “magic” at the bottom. I love it! Forget about iPhone, this may be the coolest thing ever.
Terra Naomi, “Say It’s Possible,” on sale June 11
UPDATE June 8: Sorry, the new feature is not working right now on YouTube. I’m not sure what the problem is; hopefully, YouTube does.
News: Real Player is developing a “one-click” download technology, so you can one click and then copy a video you are watching (as long as there’s no DRM/encryption on the video). More from Robert Scobleizer’s blog and below. Real Networks has a press release; program will be available next month.
Analysis: Software already exists to allow you to do this, but Real would be making this a seamless process for all PC users. The technology would work with not just YouTube videos, but any videos on the Net that do not have DRM. If you thought copyright issues (in copying video) are complicated now, just wait to see what happens next.
News: Calling YouTube a “worldwide sensation,” Steve Jobs said the new Apple TV (which lets people play anything on iTunes on a TV) will run YouTube videos with a June software update. Unfortunately, the videos are selected by Apple for access. Apparently, the full library of YouTube videos won’t be available until the fall. (More here and here)
Analysis: Someone has already developed a plug-in for Apple TV to make it run YouTube videos. See the video below and the website for A Series of Tubes. I’m not sure if it’s better what Apple will be offering.
I did test out the Apple TV this past weekend. It didn’t have YouTube capability, and I’m still not sure how good YouTube videos will look on a large screen. The resolution of most YouTube videos is made for a small screen. When you blow it up, it could be much more blurry. (More here) Fortune Magazine writer Brent Schlender has already called the Apple TV a failure.
News: The blogosphere is buzzing with news that YouTube is testing a new, sleeker video player. The new player will do something that Google’s video player already does right now: you can fast forward immediately to any part of the video (you don’t have to wait for progressive downloading anymore). Also, the new player has a very sleek looking user interface that gives you thumbnail screen shots of “Related videos” flashed across the bottom of the screen of the video you are watching. You can see the new look here and here.
Analysis: I’ve been waiting for the fast forward function to be improved on YouTube, since Google already had that capability (using an updated version of Flash video). The addition of screenshots of Related videos at the bottom of the video screen looks way cool.
News: Year 8 students (14 year olds) in Eltham College, a private school in Australia, are taking a class this year on YouTube. The students “study” videos online, as well as post their own videos on YouTube. Stuart King, the mastermind behind the idea, thought the course would help “teach students about creativity, the use of language and even publicity and promotion.” (More from the age.)
Analysis: Wow, what can I say. I need more time to study and reflect upon the issue. I’m all in favor of innovative teaching and courses, but I am not exactly sure about an entire course in YouTube for teenagers. I’m not ruling it out, but I’d like to know more about the pedagogical goals of the course and how the course is structured. The news article did mention that teaching students about respecting copyrights was one of the goals, but, based on my quick review of two of the videos prepared by the students, a couple appear to use copyrighted photos.
After reviewing the videos, I tried to find one to post up here. This is what I settled on. If you have children, you probably can relate.
News: Time Magazine just named YouTube the Best Invention of 2006. Said Time: “It’s been an interesting year in technology. Nintendo invented a video game you control with a magic wand. A new kind of car traveled 3,145 miles on a single gallon of gas. A robot learned to ride a bike. Somebody came up with a nanofabric umbrella that doesn’t stay wet. But only YouTube created a new way for millions of people to entertain, educate, shock, rock and grok one another on a scale we’ve never seen before. That’s why it’s Time’s Invention of the Year for 2006. * * *
“YouTube is ultimately more interesting as a community and a culture, however, than as a cash cow. It’s the fulfillment of the promise that Web 1.0 made 15 years ago. The way blogs made regular folks into journalists, YouTube makes them into celebrities. The real challenge old media face isn’t protecting their precious copyrighted material. It’s figuring out what to do when the rest of us make something better.”
News: Elizabeth Holmes writes today in the WSJ about LX.TV, a website that plans to provide online programs for lifestyle and entertainment for the hip and fashionable. The article is not freely available, but here’s a money line:
“[The founders of LX.TV] hope to capitalize on the recent attention by coupling the Web’s cheap start-up costs and on-demand delivery system with a tried-and-true television formula: Find attractive young people. Put them in front of a camera. Surround them with expensive clothes, throbbing music, potent potables, fashionable nosh and more attractive, affluent young people.”
Analysis: The potential of a web network taking hold is exciting. The start page for LX.TV seems a little slow to load, though. Once I got to the videos, they were pretty slick.
News: USA Today has an excellent article, Networks work with Net, which discusses how the major networks are putting up more and more videos of at least some of their shows: “In most cases, episodes are streamed starting the day after broadcast to give fans a chance to catch up on missed episodes and to attract new viewers. In a reverse twist, CBS’ Innertube site will air all seven episodes of canceled serial Smith and have the producers explain where the story was headed.”
Analysis: I just did a quick run through of each of the above sites. They are getting slicker and slicker. This is one of those watershed moments that we’ll look back on as being the start of something good. Bye, bye, TV.
I’ve already wondered here whether online video will replace TV. That’s probably a little ways off, but it’s not unimaginable. Steve Rosenbush of BusinessWeek has written this article “Why Online Video Sites Are Hot Targets” analyzing some of the forces behind the huge business interest in the online video sharing market. One interesting facet is the so-called “Millennial Generation” of people born after 1980. Rosenbush explains:
“CHANGING HABITS. Behind the flurry of deals are fundamental changes in the way consumers use technology and media. Investment bankers say traditional media companies and older Web portals such as Yahoo! are alarmed by the habits of younger consumers. Members of the so-called Millennial generation, who were born starting around 1980, don’t watch TV the way their parents did.
“‘We believe the value of (television) station assets will decline as Millennials become the most powerful user of media and (the) coveted target for advertisers,’ research firm Frank N. Magid Associates said in a report. ‘Millennials are multitaskers with cluttered lives, shared attention and a wide array of appliances in their lives—TV remains one of them, it’s just not used in the same manner.’ The report said Millennials spend 2.48 hours a day online, the same amount of time they spend watching TV, and about 2.2 hours a day listening to music. *** Young Internet users are more likely to turn to MySpace, Facebook, or YouTube [instead of TV].”
No matter how you slice it, the conventional television set is pretty sedentary. Viewers sit in front of it, and can basically veg out. The Internet is potentially different. It allows users to create and/or comment on content. And it gives users greater freedom to pick and choose the content they want to watch whenever and however many times they want.
It’s still hard to imagine, however, the day when the Internet overtakes the TV as primary conduit of entertainment communication, the outlet that millions of Americans turn to first. But that may just be starting to happen according to the following articles:
1. Diane Mermigas, Democratic Party, Hollywood Reporter.
“Already clear in its nascent, exploding stage is that the Web video and text that the average Joe creates for consumption (and often endless replay) by an audience of one or millions — anytime, anywhere — will have an extraordinary effect on commercial media and entertainment worldwide, the extent of which cannot yet be comprehended. But many bright minds are trying to figure it out.”
2. Sarah Lacey, Let the Web Entertain You, BusinessWeek.
“[T]he Web has become a hub of entertainment is no shocker, of course. What’s been more of a surprise is just how quickly and extensively the Internet is replacing traditional content over consumer electronics devices like TVs and PCs outfitted with media-compatible software and hardware. Computer makers like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and software giants like Microsoft (MSFT) long hoped they’d play a bigger role with so-called media center PCs.”
News: Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has an excellent article analyzing some of the potential copyright problems that YouTube might face if copyright holders attempted to enforce their copyrights on content being uploaded onto YouTube. For now, most copyright holders (such as the music and movie industries) haven’t, although this could change. As Johnson explains:
“NBC Universal digital content chief Jeff Gaspin said it doesn’t bother him that, for instance, almost every moment of the romantic comedy’s central relationship, between office-mates Jim and Pam, is now up on YouTube, some 15 videos of eight or so minutes apiece amounting, in total, to almost a mini-version of the Season 2 Two DVD set.
“If the Internet helps create buzz for us, great,” Gaspin said, reasoning that the Jim and Pam relationship could join TV classics like such as Sam and Diane (“Cheers”) and Ross and Rachel (“Friends”), but first viewers have to find out about it.
“When you take into account NBC’s moderate shift in stance, and, for instance, Comedy Central’s wink-and-a-nod at the proliferation of “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” clips that users upload, you understand that many copyright holders seem to be deciding that the promotional value of YouTube appearances is more valuable than any revenue that might be gained by forcing users to the holders’ own Web sites.
“But others aren’t so sanguine. Last week, Doug Morris, CEO of the giant Universal Music Group, was speaking of YouTube and the less-copyright-dependent MySpace when he said, “These new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”
Analysis: Copyright is the 64 thousand — or million — dollar question for YouTube. Part of its current success rests on copyright holders taking at least a “wait and see” attitude before running pell mell to sue YouTube for alleged copyright infringement. So far, this “wait and see” attitude seems prudent for businesses, as YouTube generates a lot of free advertising for copyrighted material. YouTube has the millions of eyeballs that copyright holders want.
News: YouTube just keeps on announcing major initiatives. It just announced a deal with Cingular and ABC to set up a competition for unknown, unsigned musical talent on YouTube. Bands will be able to send videos of themselves performing for the competition from October 2 through 18. Then, people can vote for their favorites and the finalists will appear on “Goodmorning, America” for the finals. (More from Reuters.) If you have a band and want to enter, more about YouTube Underground can be found here.
Analysis: Great idea. I love it. One of the appeals of the mega-hit show American Idol is that it discovers unknown talent from all parts of the United States, even from remote locations like Checotah, Oklahoma, the home of Carrie Underwood. YouTube Underground is even more grassroots in its search for unknown talent because the people apparently will be able to select the contestants from the start, unlike the early selection process in American Idol by three judges.
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.