<videovortex> BBC: YouTube bids for screen dominance
geert at xs4all.nl
Fri Jul 9 05:01:07 CEST 2010
YouTube bids for screen dominance
By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley
Can YouTube make the jump to rule the roost in the living room?
The world's biggest video site wants to dominate every screen where
content can be viewed and created.
YouTube is already a leader online and in mobile and has firmly set
its sights on the living room.
The company charted its course during the launch of a new product
called Leanback, described by some as web video for couch potatoes.
It also unveiled upgrades for its mobile site which has over 100
million playbacks a day.
"You can start to break down the mental picture of 'these are the
videos I watch on my computer, on my tv or on my phone,'" Hunter Walk,
director of product management told BBC News.
"Now you just say 'these are the videos I watch and I watch them
wherever I happen to be, or whoever I happen to be with'. We are going
to have a world where people increasingly expect their content to be
available to them on anything with a screen, whether that be a
computer, a phone or a tv. That is the vision," said Mr Walk.
With 24 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, YouTube is
already the world's biggest video website.
And with Leanback, YouTube is now vying for the attention of the user
in the living room.
People watch 2 billion videos a day on YouTube
"This really is where the opportunity is biggest for YouTube right
now," said Kuan Yong, senior product manager for Leanback.
"We are looking at five hours of tv that users are watching every day
in the US versus 15 minutes of YouTube video, so there is a huge
opportunity for us to bring YouTube into the living room and at the
same time bring some of the tv experience to YouTube."
The technology picks out high-definition clips and automatically
serves up a constant stream of one video after another. As it learns
more about the viewers' likes and dislikes, this diet of video becomes
The aim is to ensure users do not have to think about what they want
to see next or click on the website every few minutes.
"We want to remove the 'What next?' question for viewers," said Mr Yong.
'Channel of you'
Mr Walk said Leanback marked the emergence of a single channel world.
"This is about the 'Channel of You'. You become the programmer of the
content you want to see as opposed to someone sitting in the corner of
a room that doesn't know you. This is about knowing about your
interests to pull content to you.
Leanback is in beta and expected to launch in the autumn
"And the challenge is all about making it effortless for you to get a
stream of constant videos that are going to be interesting and
relevant and targeted at you based on what your interests are and what
your friends are watching," said Mr Walk.
Leanback is seen as part of the company's effort to grow from a
website into a "video operating system" that is as ubiquitous and easy
to use as television.
It is also regarded as a product that will dovetail seamlessly with
Google's tv ambitions, which aim to change the way consumers watch
television. Back in May, the search giant announced its plans for an
internet-focused tv in partnership with Sony, Intel, Dish Network and
The Sony made sets are due to go on sale in the autumn.
"Whenever you think of video, YouTube wants you to think of them," Ben
Parr, co-editor of news website Mashable.com told the BBC.
"By making video available from the smallest screen to the biggest no
matter where you are, they can succeed in that goal. Whether they can
win in the living room is the billion dollar question. It is just
unclear if people want to watch YouTube video after YouTube video
versus professionally made shows on the networks," he said.
YouTube also upgraded its mobile website to make watching video on the
move more convenient and quality driven at a time when more and more
consumers reach the internet over smartphones.
The mobile update comes amid an explosion of smartphone sales
"YouTube consumption on mobile devices has grown considerably," said
Andrey Doronichev, mobile product manager.
"Playbacks were up 160% in 2009 over the previous year. The world is
heading mobile and we want to move with it."
The updated site promises faster speeds along with the ability to
create playlists, designate favourite videos and receive search query
And with the upgrade, YouTube appeared to be aiming to steer iPhone
users away from the application that comes preinstalled on the Apple
In a blog post, the company said "As we make improvements to
Youtube.com, you'll see them quickly follow on our mobile site, unlike
native apps which are not updated as frequently."
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