Google-YouTube: Questions, Questions

Harry McCracken tackles big questions about the hottest acquisition of the week

Funny thing about rumors: Sometimes they turn out to be true. Last week, the buzz was that Google was in talks to buy YouTube for about $1.6 billion. Even some savvy observers scoffed. Yesterday it happened.

Some obvious questions about the deal got answered today: Google says that YouTube will maintain its name, management, and freedom to serve its users as it sees fit, and that Google Video, the YouTube competitor Google had already launched, will live on. But that leaves room for lots of other things to wonder about involving the site which I'm not the first person to call GooTube. Such as:

Will it be sued out of business?

Some folks who thought Google wouldn't or shouldn't buy YouTube did so on the basis of the fact that it's rife with copyrighted video and the possibility that it might crumble, Napsterlike, under the weight of lawsuits from content owners. Google, presumably, thinks it can avoid that scenario--and today's other big YouTube news was of new deals with Hollywood for authorized video streaming.

I'm no lawyer but there are a bunch of reasons to believe that YouTube can avoid a Napsteresque fate. For one thing, entertainment companies are at least a little more likely to embrace the Internet today than they were when (the original) Napster got shut down, as the deals YouTube has already struck prove. You've gotta think that almost anyone would rather partner with Google than sue it. (Er, emphasis on the "almost", I guess.) And while Napster provided entire albums with excellent sound quality, the fact that YouTube videos are short (ten or fewer minutes), fuzzy, and streamed rather than downloaded means they're as much a promotional vehicle for movies or TV delivered by more traditional means as a replacement for them.

Will YouTube get more Googley? Will Google get more YouTubey?

The two companies say that there won't be some sort of hasty Googlization of YouTube, but they also say they see lots of opportunity for integration, and there's clearly endless opportunity for Google-YouTube mashups and general influence of each site upon the other, in part because YouTube already has a Google-esque flavor. Likely scenario: Something like Google's relationship with acquisitions Blogger and Picasa, both of which retain their own branding and style while connecting to the Google mothership in various ways, only on a grander scale.

Does this bring us closer to a world in which search isn't mostly about searching for words?

Probably. It's a no-brainer that eventually, we'll all spend as much time searching for video content as we do for text stuff. And given that it's not yet a sure thing that Google will dominate video search, the company has every incentive to take steps such as buying the Web's hottest video site.

Will any other big company launch a serious YouTube rival?

YouTube is so popular in part because it's so easy to use, and as usual, usability seems to be remarkably difficult to clone. So far, the competition seems to range from lackluster to downright clueless. I just tried visiting Microsoft's YouTube killer and found that you can't even get into it to watch video if you're on a Mac. Or, for that matter, if you're on Windows but use Firefox rather than IE.

Was 1.65 billion bucks a reasonable price to pay?

That seems to be the question of the day. Me, I not only don't know the answer to this, I also don't really care--I'm a Google user, not an investor. I do know it's way too early to know; five years from now, this deal could look either like the deal of the century or an absurd waste of money.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Harry McCracken

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?