Dvorak on YouTube

Very perceptive column by John Dvorak about YouTube. He gets it exactly right, IMHO. Sample:

BERKELEY, Calif. (MarketWatch) — YouTube, the privately-held video sharing website, now delivers an estimated 100 million videos a day to its users. The site has been online for barely a year.

It’s [sic] growth rate is phenomenal and without precedent, skyrocketing into the public consciousness and becoming commonplace nearly overnight. So what do the journalists, analysts and pundits all do when they witness this moment in history? Kvetch.

Nobody actually wants to understand exactly why this happened in the first place. Instead you hear the following (and typical) Silicon Valley commentary. “How are they going to monetize it?” “It’s the dotcom bust 2.0!” “There must be a video bubble.” “They’re burning through $1.5 million a month. How can they continue?”

It’s weird but almost nobody looks at this tremendous growth curve and asks themselves, “Holy cripes! How did that happen!?!” Instead you get headlines such as “Is YouTube the next Napster?”

Apparently YouTube has stumbled on to something and perhaps we should try and understand that in itself. If and when the company manages to “monetize” (don’t you love that term?) things may change.

And you must assume that with all the marketing brains out there one of them can find a way to make money. I’m more concerned about why this product exploded the way it did. I’ll critique the money-making scheme when it appears.

So let’s look at what caused the growth. And let’s note that this company is hardly the first on the block to let users share video. Google video, in fact, looks a lot like YouTube, but never achieved this growth despite getting a big head start.

Two things seem to be at work. The first is the incredible desire people have to share video clips with each other. That’s now apparent.

What’s not so apparent, unless you actually have tried to use the various video sharing sites, is that nobody — and I mean nobody — made it easy until YouTube.

Right on! (Now there’s an ageing hippy exclamatiion if ever I saw one!) I pay — happily — for my Flickr Pro account. And, like John D, I would pay for YouTube too.

YouTube is like Flickr in the early days — you can see its members still struggling with the technology. But they’re rapidly getting on top of it. Editing movies is HARD. (Believe me, I know: I have the scars to prove it.) In a year’s time there will be even more accomplished videos like this.