Archive for March, 2006|Monthly archive page

Is YouTube just Napster online?

Think about it. In one sense, YouTube (and every other video sharing site) is just a p2p network online. It’s a place you go to share and collect lots of copyrighted content – in this case video. Music videos, TV shows, clips from movies, it’s all on there. In fact, a lot of the video content on video sharing sites is in fact the same video that people have been trading on p2p networks for years.

But wait, it’s supposed to be *user generated* right? Sure, just like we were all supposed to be trading home-made garage band tapes on Napster. It’s pretty clear that lots of people in Hollywood are going to view YouTube, Revver, et al as simply enabling illegal copying. The rumours are already flying about the C&D letters on their way to offices ofYouTube.

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Review: On2 Video Publisher

On2 Logo

As promised, here is a quick review of the On2 Publisher control
which competes directly with VideoEgg (see my review of VideoEgg). As advertised, the On2 control is a very quick ActiveX control install, with no downloadble .exe. The install was quick and painless on IE (FF is supported, but only 1.5). Overall the control is less attractive and less slick than the VideoEgg one, but it does the basic job.

I was able to drag a wmv video file from my computer onto the control. It lets me play the file, set Mark In/Mark Out, and then click ‘Publish’. When I click publish then it encodes the file to Flash and uploads its to the On2 test server. Everything went smoothly and you can see the results here. I used the same video so you can compare to the one from VideoEgg (here). Encoding results seem similarly good from both products.

I don’t really like how On2 sticks their logo right on top of the video – the VideoEgg widget has the logo off the video which seems nicer. Presumably you can change this if you purchase the On2 Publisher control for use on your site.

The On2 product seems less polished than VideoEgg, but it does the job. And given that I do believe the download/install is a big user barrier, the easier to install ActiveX control is an advantage. It seems that maybe VideoEgg will try to be more of an outsourced service, where they will host/serve the video and provide the control. This will probably make it easier for smaller sites to add video hosting. I’m not sure how or how much VideoEgg will charge for this service.

The On2 product seems targeted at integration with your own video hosting solution, which may make it better for larger sites.

What is VideoEgg?

VideoEgg logo
VideoEgg is a startup in a new category we could call the “picks and shovels business” for video on the web. Rather than trying to build a destination, like the other hundred sites out there, they are attacking a problem faced by every user of every user-generated video site. Namely, “how do I get my video off my camera and upload to site X?”

The basics are pretty well understood: 1)rip the video from your camera onto your computer, 2)encode the video from raw format into something usable, and 3)upload the video to your favorite site. However, lots can go wrong in this process. In many cases you’ll use two different desktop apps for steps 1 and 2, and then have to use whatever hacked up process your site uses for file upload.

VideoEgg starts by attacking each of these problems. Their product supports grabbing video off of a connected device (camcorder or web cam), encoding that video, and then uploading the video to a remote server. All of this is packaged in a browser control (supports FF, IE, Safari, Opera according to the FAQ) for web page integration. The control even supports basic editing like setting Mark In/Out.
I like the technical idea a lot, because I don’t see anyone else attacking this end of the problem. The browser plugin is cool once it’s installed, but I’m not sure how many people will be willing to install it locally. I think that’s a very big barrier.

For the business model, it looked like Video Egg was primarily B2B, meaning they were trying to license the plugin to destination sites. However, more recently it looks like they’ve started letting end users publish video to their blogs via VideoEgg directly, with VideoEgg hosting the video. They even will autoblog to your blogging site, which is cool, but right now they only support Blogger and Typepad – doh! I tried it out over at a blogger account, check out the results here.

I have to admit the experience was very smooth, and the results are very good. The ability to trim the start and end of the video without using a video editing package is itself very cool. My original video file was 5 times longer than what you see on the blog. If I wanted to start “video blogging” I could see this being invaluable.

I’m not sure whether VideoEgg intend to pursue that b2c blog utility direction over time, or whether it’s a way to prove the technology and user appeal to potential partners. Now if only they could get FF or IE to pre-install their plugin, then they’d be set.