Saturday, August 12, 2006

Why YouTube >> Google Video

I was wondering about this and did some searching ("googling" :-)) and came upon this post by Nate Elliott of Jupiter Research who has this to say:

I asked Benjamin Lehmann, who covers European Content for Jupiter, and he cited two factors. First, he says the fact you can embed YouTube video on any site you want (your blog, your MySpace page, whatever), whereas you can't do that with Google Video, is an enormous advantage for YouTube (I agree). Second, he thinks the slight head-start YouTube had over Google Video was a factor (I personally don't think it was).

Nate goes on to say that he "can't think of anything great they've [Google] built outside of search. They're a one-trick pony; but it's one hell of a good trick." That seems about right. Without having delved into all the numbers, Flickr (now owned by Yahoo!) is likely #1 in photo sharing, Google doesn't have a social tag-sharing site like del.icio.us, Google's Orkut is clearly back-of-the-pack when it comes to social networking, lots of people have Gmail accounts but it's hardly dominant and my sense is that Gmail chat is not widely used, Froogle is far from a dominant price shopping engine, and so forth. The Google brand is essentially universally known--and generally admired--but it hasn't vaulted Google into leadership in new businesses. Indeed, what's remarkable is just how well Google as a whole does in spite of all these (relative) duds.

There's one other interesting dynamic here to. Whatever barriers to access the Web may lower and level, there's still a very strong tendency to have real category winners--at least until someone comes along with a markedly better mousetrap. (That's one reason I think, contra the above analysis, that being first may have been a factor in YouTube's favor. On the other hand, YouTube wasn't really a household name by the time Google Video hit the scene, so I could be persuaded either way on this one.) We could have a myriad of photo sites, but Flickr is the one. It's a combination of social network effects, the way that ideas and services spread virally and unpredictably, and just a limit in the time and energy people have to continually evaluate a lot of different things. If "everyone" else is using Netflix for DVDs-by-mail, I guess I will too.

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