YouTube, You’ve Got (More) Company

You knew it was only a matter of time before Microsoft jumped into the online video sharing sandbox. Constantly looking for new revenue opportunities and arguably a follower when it comes to rolling out new technologies (browser, search engine, etc.) especially those that tap the Web, Microsoft yesterday launched its own video service. They do acknowledge, they are trailing YouTube, which has an eighteen month head start, not to mention an installed base in the tens of millions and a proven advertising model. Not only that, but Google, Yahoo and AOL have also beaten Microsoft to market with their own offerings.

Exactly what demographic will Microsoft be able to capture with its video service? I tend to doubt that YouTube users will switch. I also wonder if the typical Microsoft loyalist wants to bother with online videos yet or ever.

To that point, a couple months ago, Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal took a hard look at YouTube – who’s using the service and for what purpose. Among the tidbits in his piece was this gem – Johan Pouwelse, a professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who helped develop a video-sharing technology at Delft, reports that 70% of YouTube’s registered users are American and about half are under 20 years of age. Are there many Steve Ballmer fans in that gang? How many know who Rob Bennett is? (Hint: he has something to do with MSN).

Bennett, by the way, called YouTube “primitive… and not very engaging.”

For its part, YouTube is not standing pat. Yesterday, they made their own splash, inking a deal with Warner Music Group. Warner becomes the first record company to allow YouTube users to download copyrighted music and videos from its catalogs. Warner and YouTube will split the associated advertising revenues.

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