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Time: YouTube a Top 10 Tech Failure

So I understand that there are plenty of worthy causes out there that need me to stand up for them more than YouTube (s GOOG) does, but I just can’t help myself. Honestly, Time (s TWX) — YouTube is one of the “10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade“? Right up there with Vonage, Vista and HD DVD? I just don’t see it.

Time_youcover01Here’s an excerpt from the blurb, written by Douglas A. McIntyre of 24/7 Wall St. for Time:

“YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world. According to comScore, 99.7 million viewers watched 5.9 billion videos on in the U.S. during March 2009. In November 2006, Google (GOOG) bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. There is a fairly good chance that the search company will never get a return on that investment. YouTube has not come up with a model to make money by either selling advertising or charging for premium content, even though it has an a enormous audience and library of content.”

McIntyre concludes, “YouTube is big, but that has not made it a success.” Well, yes, making money is a priority for any company. But changing the face of entertainment, democratizing access to content production and consumption, enabling a whole new category of shared experiences — that doesn’t count for anything? Especially when YouTube is (very much) still in business, and Google can afford to keep propping it up as it finds its way?

Being a pundit is just too easy sometimes. Remember in 2006, when Time’s person of the year was “you” — as in, a mirrored YouTube player on its front cover?

11 Responses to “Time: YouTube a Top 10 Tech Failure”

  1. The problem with Youtube, facebook, google is that we the user have be trained to get everything online for FREE!! Therefore it is like pulling teeth to get anyone to pay for anything online. Advertisers and market experts know this.

    The only time we wipe out our plastic is to buy something tangible.

  2. One thing that need to be taken into account is that services like Hulu have failed to make it outside of the US ( ), where there is also a huge appetite for online video content. This is a market that Youtube still has almost to itself and that it could probably monetize when the content companies are more comfortable letting their content go beyond US borders.

  3. After thinking about this, I actually disagree. Sure YouTube is ubiquitous, but it has been a complete failure from a economic standpoint. It ushered in the world of online video, but how many years does UGV have legs (for dominate percentage of video views)?

    Professional video is beginning to dominate WebTV. Hulu and is the future. Dogs on skateboards are not – and YouTube is way behind in licensing professional content. There also seems to be a growing trend that creative UGV is more often than not found on Vimeo vs YouTube. Based on YouTube’s massive headstart – it very arguable that it has become one of the biggest Tech failures.

    Think about this statement – “People only go to YouTube when they cannot find it elsewhere.” I think that is true, if not now, very soon. A major reason is due to clutter and quality. Sure YouTube supports HD, but it was one of the last sites to do so. People dont immediately think of YouTube when they are looking for high quality video and we are very near a time when most/significant portion of WebTV is viewed on an HD TV, not the computer screen.

    All that said, I do concede that the Time 2006 cover is a solid point.

    • @DP81 – I still think YouTube is the dominant global video search and discovery platform, and the entryway for a lot of video that wouldn’t exist on platforms like Hulu or Vimeo. When the Queen of England starts putting out video, where is it going to go? YouTube, of course.

  4. Beyond that, I wonder if marketers are partly to blame for not being able to find creative ways to use Youtube and helping make it a better marketing platform. I mean, they of all companies are capable of finding funds to put into Youtube and it would actually benefit them a lot as well as they get some exposure for their brands.