April 19, 2006
YouTube is a free online video streaming service that allows users to view and share videos that have been uploaded by other YouTube members. Think of it as a kind of online video library where anyone can upload any type of video. The best part about this service – like other social Web 2.0 properties is that it is free to use. It was founded in early 2005 by the same group of entrepreneurs that started PayPal – the wildly successful online payment system.
Before YouTube there was no easy way for individuals to share video on the Web. The problem of dealing with hundreds of multimedia formats and large files made sharing video clips difficult – even for tech-savvy individuals.
With YouTube you can upload and share your videos worldwide to anyone with Internet access. If you don’t have videos to upload you can always browse and play the thousands of videos available. You’ll find groups of people with similar interests to you (Sports for example) and be able to view and browse their videos. If you host a website YouTube also provide a set of API’s that let you display YouTube videos on your website.
Uploading a video on YouTube is as simple as signing up for a free account. As well as uploading videos, members can also save videos and create custom playlists. Movies for upload need to be in either AVI, .MOV, and .MPG file formats. Uploading can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours depending on the size and the speed of your connection. YouTube limit each video to 10 minutes in length or 100 Mb. If you want to upload more you’ll need to sign up to become a premium content provider. Once videos are on YouTube they stay there until you remove them. The other requirement for uploading videos is that you own the copywright to the video or have permission from the copywright owner to use the video. Posting commercial content or anything illegal will result in immediate suspension of your account, similar to other community based sites like eBay.
To date YouTube has served over 25 million videos – and is by all accounts the Internet’s premier video service. Google has just begun competing with YouTube through its Google Video service. Google also allow you to purchase commercial videos – something that YouTube doesn’t.