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Microsoft does a "me too" YouTube

india Updated: Sep 22, 2006 04:13 IST
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The Microsoft contradiction

Synchronisation between thought, word and deed. Or if that sounds too much at least some commonality between word and deed. Microsoft definitely does not believe in that. They cannot possibly be ignorant that they are the biggest organization on earth. Or maybe it's a part of their corporate communication strategy to say something and do something else to ward off competitor threat.

I can give many examples right from the time they started. A few gems being "the Internet is a passing fad" and "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
For the sake of freshness let's forget history and look at what was said in May this year by Bill Gates.

"If we did YouTube, we'd be in a lot of trouble. First of all, people would say, 'How do you make money?' Second, 'What about all that copyright violation taking place up there?' It's a neat site. I saw a bunch of old Harlem Globetrotters movies up there the other night, it's great."

Bill Gates' comments not withstanding the organization, is moving towards the lucrative YouTube market.

The Soapbox release

On September 18, MSN announced the US beta release of Soapbox on MSN Video, a user-uploaded video service that makes it easy for people to express themselves by uploading, discovering and sharing personal videos with the Soapbox community and others around the world. Soapbox will be available on MSN Video and will be deeply integrated throughout Microsoft Corp's portfolio of online services including Windows Live Spaces and Windows Live Messenger.

"Soapbox delivers on a critical component of the MSN growth strategy of deepening audience engagement by enabling people to participate in the content experience," said Rob Bennett, general manager of Entertainment and Video Services for MSN. "By adding a user-uploaded video service, we are rounding out our existing investments in commercially produced and original content on MSN Video."

Soapbox will require Internet Explorer 6 or later running on Windows XP or later, and Mac users are not being excluded: Firefox 1.0.5 or later on Under Mac OS X is supported.

Targeting YouTube

Soapbox is a direct competitor of the popular site YouTube where video images are shared. According to the Nielsen/NetRatings company, about 34 million people visited the YouTube site in August alone. Microsoft has an existing audience of 465 million monthly users across its various web properties and aims to integrate Soapbox with its blogging and instant-messaging services, among others. It's also a bid to get a share in the billion dollar advertisement pie of Internet giants like Google and Yahoo.

The Verdict

In this age and time, the consumer's verdict is final. I checked quite a few blogs to get a feel of the response. There were kudos, brickbats and more. But I guess the one below summarizes it rather well. It can be viewed here...

Some companies are jealous because "their" technology is bigger than them. And so it goes with Soapbox, Microsoft's supposed answer to YouTube, the highly popular, entertaining and non-profitable video sharing website.

Once again, Microsoft's ego has gotten in the way. It just cannot seem to handle the success of another tech company. Instead of appreciating its own talent, Microsoft insists on trying to enter a market where they have no expertise, just because they can. While technology envy is bad, tipping the hat and giving it kudos, is considered good. Why am I not surprised, chose Microsoft? I guess, I'll agree with that. More next week.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and edits www.thebusinessedition.com you can email him on puneet @cyberzest.com

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