Google buys YouTube. Why?
Maybe I'm just too cynical, but now, after Google went from "Do no evil" to "Must accommodate the Communist Chinese government so we can make beaucoup bucks," I look at Google's snapping up of YouTube and see an acquisitive public corporation that is largely out to own things, a corporate model in the internet computing world that Microsoft has pioneered to such notorious repute.
"This is the next step in the evolution of the Internet," Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said during a conference call Monday.
YouTube will continue to retain its brand, its new headquarters in San Bruno and all 67 employees, including co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Meanwhile, Google will continue to run a less popular video service on its own site.
So the goal is really just to own YouTube.
YouTube has been a sensational success, proving that free social networking can work even with bandwidth-hungry video content. The online video revolution was not televised, but it didn't matter, it was videotaped -- or, rather, the revolution was videotape. YouTube has been the trailblazer. Google has been the also-ran, the giant who doesn't want to miss out on all the fun.
I'd like to think that Google's acquisition will mean that YouTube can be even better, but when it comes down to it, what this could mean -- and I'll certainly admit that this is by no means certain -- is fewer options for users, fewer decision-makers calling the shots, and a net loss for innovation and diversity online. We'll see. As Forrester Research's Charlene Li says in the AP wire story:
"It's going to be like, 'You can either fight us or you can make money with us.'"
In another interesting take, S. Garrett ponders Google's likely copyright headaches, and links to Mark Cuban, who says:
it will be interesting to see how Fox reacts to this deal Fox owns content. Neither google or YT does. Could Fox, the owner of Myspace put GooTube in a huge hole by being legally aggressive and going after every video of Stewy from Family Guy , American Idol, any of their TV shows ? The same with their movies. Beyond just Gootube, (and I mash them together with nothing but love :), Fox could make them look real bad by using supoaenas to go after individual Gootube users. Fox is also a stickler for DRM, they aint gonna like having their content floating DRM free around the net. Sure, myspace would have to clean up some of their own videos, but it would be a far easier chore than Gootube has. Now that would be a celebrity lawyer match worth watching.
Hmmm... David Smith on Preoccupations writes that Google is in the eye of the perfect storm over not just copyright but censorship, net neutrality and national security.
But forget what Li, Smith, Cuban, Garrett have to say on this. Forget what I have to say on this. And of course forget all the buzz you'll see on the old media television news channels.
More interesting will be what the YouTubers have to say about this themselves. After all, that's what YouTube proved, and why Google wants to own it.