Internet

Google - Youtube: it's all about search

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Koolhaas-hunting on Youtube: this Danwei video is a frequent search target

Google's recently-announced purchase of Youtube for the cool sum of 1.6 billion dollars has excited the chattering classes of the Internet.

People are asking all kinds of things about the deal:

- Will Youtube ever make any money? - Is this is evidence of dot com bubble 2.0? - Why didn't I start a video sharing website 18 months ago?
But no one seems to be articulating the most powerful argument in favor of the deal: Youtube has already established itself as the top brand when it comes to online video search, and search is what Google is supposed to do best.

How many times in the last few months have you heard someone say something like "Jon Stewart did this thing on the Daily Show, it's excellent, just search Youtube for it". Or "You know those two Chinese kids lip-synching to a Back Street Boys song, just search for it on Youtube".

Further anecdotal evidence of the importance of search to Youtube's success: Judging from viewer email and comments on our Youtube page, many viewers see our videos after searching Youtube for terms like 'Beijing' and 'Chinese'.

Thanks to its early starter advantage and ease of use, Youtube has become the one online video website that everybody knows. The buzz about the Google deal can only increase the strength of the Youtube brand.

Acquiring Youtube means that Google now owns the leader of video search.

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There are currently 6 Comments for Google - Youtube: it's all about search.

Comments on Google - Youtube: it's all about search

Does Google's acquisition of YouTube mean that we can look forward to future censorship?

THM's comment is not fair for poor Google. If Google makes a Chinese Youtube, we'll all scream bloody mary at the first hint of censorship, but we'll shrug our shoulders when Murdoch censors the content of a Chinese Myspace.

What you can probably look forward to is the future blocking of YouTube by the Chinese government, which, I would guess, is simply a matter of time. It seems unlikely that Google would decide itself to make YouTube unavailable in China (even though they did that with Google Video) because they'd end up roasted in the court of public opinion again, something they probably can't really afford right now.

Jeremy is right: The point behind acquiring YouTube would seem to be to get ahold of its millions of daily searches and tie them into Google's ad services. Of course, this could have been done with a licensing deal. So for some reason Google seems to have really decided to drop all pretense and become a media company. It really already was a media company, but as long as it rode on the backs of other people's content it could maintain a polite fiction that it wasn't, which was probably useful from a regulatory and legal point of view (their book scanning project and Google Video were already undermining this, but in a low profile way). They can expect to absorb a lot of extra legal and business complexity as a result of this decision.

Jeremy is also right that YouTube is the video sharing site of record. But the problem is that video sharing has no network effect. Unlike an auction site where the size of the usership tends to reinforce a natural monopoly, video sharing has a low barrier to switching. All that is important is that a site be accessible, fast and easy to use. After that, I can point someone to a video on, say, Tudou (or wherever) as easily as I can point them to YouTube. Jeremy himself has taken advantage of this to cross-host Danwei TV videos.

What this means is that YouTube and Google will be under extreme pressure to make sure that they don't do anything that annoys YouTube's users, and they will have to work hard to ensure that YouTube stays a better service than the hungry competitors, in terms of quality, usability, speed, usefulness of search returns, etc.

Google's resources would seem to be useful for that. But, lest anyone have forgotten, Google Video was ke-rap of the first degree. So I'll withold my bet for the moment.

It'll be interesting to watch.

I wouldn't be surprised if we soon start getting letters from Google attorneys ordering us to cease and desist from using phrases like 'Youtube it', like they did to people who wrote about 'googling' something.

I will be interesting to see how Google changes You Tube. Google has their own video service and I've actually found it superior quality to You Tube. However, Google Video is much more strict about what gets uploaded. While I was in the states, I tried to upload on Google Video a local Chinese newscast of my wedding to show friends back home. They rejected it three times and I gave up. You Tube is popular the many uploaded excerpts from television. Those aren't allowed on Google Video. Also, you have to pay a fee to see many of the music videos. If Google applies the same strict standards that they apply to their video service, they avoid being sued but they will also make You Tube a lot less interesting and it will lose a lot of its reason for being.
Also, I just recently returned here in China. When I try to view the videos I've uploaded I got this message:

"Thanks for your interest in Google Video.

Currently, the playback feature of Google Video isn't available in your country.

We hope to make this feature available more widely in the future, and we really appreciate your patience."

Here in China, it may not be the Chinese authorities who prevent us from seeing videos uploaded on You Tube. It might be Google.

Totally sounds like when Yahoo bought Broadcast.com for US$6 billion . Web 2.0 = internet bubble 2.0

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