Posted by Abe Sauer on April 23, 2010 05:37 PM
Behold, above, YouTube's first-ever video. Stunning, no?
Four years ago, when YouTube was in its infancy, I pondered its future:
"With a potentially crippling copyright lawsuit on the horizon, it's almost impossible not to compare YouTube to Napster. It's easy to see a future in which YouTube will exist as a brand in recovery, scrapping for survival in a flooded marketplace it basically built."
As YouTube celebrates its fifth birthday, it turns out I could not have been more wrong.
In my (ahem!) own defense, I had speculated on the brand's lawsuit-filled future of doom just a month before Google announced its billion-dollar acquisition of the video site. Today, YouTube trails only Facebook and its papa, Google, in global site visits.
Four years ago I noted that YouTube's market was littered with competition that might eat its lunch: "There are sites like Eefoof.com, Panjea.com, Revver and Blip.TV, which share up to 50 percent of ad page revenue with the creator of the videos. Others like Dabble.com (currently in beta) sort through all video hosting sites (like YouTube and its competition) for search content, while specialty video sites like Pornotube concentrate on one point of interest."
With the exception of Pornotube, YouTube has pretty much buried all of them. Not that there aren't challenges. One of YouTube's key ones is five years old and still plagues the brand: How to make money. While an increase in advertising has provided some answers, even the most watched YouTube stars barely eke out anything for their efforts. As for YouTube itself, even with all the traffic, many are asking if it can monetize like the juggernaut it is.
Now YouTube is expanding its brand as well. Earlier this week, we noted that it is dabbling in a branded marketing channel, Show & Tell, that could lead interesting places. It has also (rather quietly) started "renting" movies and TV shows for between 99 cents and $3.99.
That latter move spells out the brand's future. In five more years time, don't be surprised to find ourselves amidst a peak content provider war between YouTube and iTunes. This time though, I'm not speculating.