Who Are You And What Have You Done With The Real John Dvorak?

from the even-broken-clocks dept

We've been hard on John Dvorak in the past due to some of his uninsightful rants about technology. But we're not averse to giving credit where it's due. Writing about YouTube, Dvorak argues that many of the articles on it are missing the point. The YouTube phenomenon is not about its business model (or lack thereof), what it's going to sell for, how much it spends on bandwidth, or how it can prevent copyright infringement. Granted, all of those things may be interesting, but the interesting part of the story is YouTube created an extremely simple way for people to share video, which as it turned out, is something that people really like to do. Anyone in the industry focusing on something other than its appeal and ease of use is probably focusing on the wrong thing. If there's a minor reason to quibble with Dvorak's piece it's that he ascribes "pent up demand" as fueling YouTube's popularity. In reality, most people probably never thought about video sharing this way until they saw YouTube and realized how much they liked it. Obviously, YouTube has a lot of work cut out for it if it wants to be a sustainable business. But it's invisible business model isn't the lesson for other companies planning their internet strategies -- they should focus on the characteristics that have made YouTube so popular with users.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Brad, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:50am

    YouTube Popularity

    What makes YouTube popular? You give people a functionally unlimited amount of space to share videos of themselves, and then you don't charge them anything. The difference between 0 and $1 is far greater than the difference between $1 and $20

     

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  2.  
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    Greg, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:54am

    Necessity

    Necessity isn't the mother of invention. It's the other way around...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:59am

    Re: Necessity

    You mean invention of mother the isn't Necessity? I believe you are right...

     

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  4.  
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    Yoda, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Necessity

    Invention's mother necessity is, you say believe I.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    Armageddon!

    My God man! do you realize what you've just done?!?! you've agreed with something Dvorak said! the world will end! the sky will fall, pigs will fly, and M$ will make Vista the first edition of Windows to be F/OSS!!!

     

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  6.  
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    Joel, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    What brad said

    What brad said. There's a big difference between free and anything else, and youtube will have a very hard time gettings it's users to pay up for space or bandwidth.

    That doesn't mean there isn't the potential there to make a lot of money. They could probably institute "reasonable" limits for users (maybe not based on size but on the number of videos) and charge subscription prices for 'premium unlimited' accounts a la flikr or photobucket. There's also the option (and this seems to be where they're trying to go) of offering a service to feature promotional videos from companies, for the right price.

    The question is still- can they get enough revenue from these models to cover their costs. They may have found a service that people like, but don't value quite enough to open their wallets. In that case, good service or not, it will die.

     

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  7.  
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    bshock, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:07am

    As much as I despise the notion of agreeing with Dvorak (let alone defending him), I suggest that there may very well have been a "pent up demand" for video sharing. For the last seven years, friends and colleagues have been sending me videos via email.

    Remember the one about the Superfriends with voices dubbed from the beer commercial? Remember the one about the guy kicking the bear in the balls to steal its salmon? The number of popular (if silly) videos like this skyrocketed over the last few years, and it seems like every other day (until YouTube) I found something I knew that half a dozen friends would enjoy. Maybe I didn't realize that I needed a Web site for this, but a Web site certainly fulfilled the need.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:07am

    No, I think he meant, ".noitnevni fo rehtom eht t'nsi ytisseceN".

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:13am

    Thank you John!

    Finally, someone with a voice is saying what I have been for a long time. Who cares what kind of business you can get out of it, it's just a cool idea. Too many tech people today are trying to be more businessman than geek, and I for one am getting pretty sick of it, and it sounds like John is to.

     

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  10.  
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    Danno, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:22am

    Erm, Greg, you're so wrong.

    The YouTube founders were on Charlie Rose the other day and said that they created the site because they were at a party and people were taking videos and had no easy way to share them with each other.

    Wha..what's that? Need to share videos, leading tooo.... the invention of Youtube!

     

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  11.  
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    Ballenger, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    The idea that ""people had not thought of" video sharing YouTube style doesn't preclude Dvorak's point on "pent up demand". Individually, videos and the notion of sharing are nothing new. YouTube certainly expedited the popularity of video sharing, but without the demand element being there, the YouTube phenomenon would most likely not have happened. As the first poster pointed out, free and easy probably has had more to do with their success than any other single factor. And once you have the traffic as is the case with YouTube, that demand will largely define the business model.

     

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  12.  
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    rijit (profile), Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:25am

    RE: #9 Thank you John!

    Well, turning it into a business model is one way for the site to actually support itself. A bunch of geeks being geeks can't afford all the bandwidth.
    Also, this is the good ol' capitalistic USA. If you can't sell it, it is not really a success is it? I mean, most people in this country do what they do for money. After all, life is a game and he who has the most money when he dies wins right? Right???

     

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  13.  
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    Bill Gates, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:58am

    Life is a game and...

    I WIN BITCHES!!

     

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  14.  
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    Earl, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 10:03am

    Just like about everyone else, this is the first article in quite a while that Dvorak has written that I agree with. But even stranger in my opinion is that Dvorak the writer and Dvorak the personality on TWIT seem to be two different people as well!
    In the past, I've placed Dvorak in almost the same category as Rob Enderle, ie a writer that spews crap about tech just to get a reaction. After listening to him over the last year or so, I've decided that he's just an opinionated guy who writes what he thinks.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 10:11am

    Re: RE: #9 Thank you John!

    "After all, life is a game and he who has the most money when he dies wins right? Right???"

    If that were true, Shouldn't we have a slew of suicides every time the market is performing well? And why hasn't warren or william offed themselves yet? Can't win if you're still alive (and theres still time to lose it).

     

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  16.  
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    sumguy, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    Re: What brad said

    small "click to go to video ads" wouldn't be so bad.

    i would still go there....

     

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  17.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Business and Geekdom

    don't mix very well. I kinds hope YouTube isnt sold to anyone because more than likey the buyer would try to implement a paid subscription service that would more than likely put the customers (i.e. us) on the short end of the stick. Could YouTube be better, I'm sure it could be if it had better funding but there is some truth in the saying "more money, more problems."

     

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  18.  
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    rijit (profile), Aug 11th, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: RE: #9 Thank you John!

    "If that were true, Shouldn't we have a slew of suicides every time the market is performing well? And why hasn't warren or william offed themselves yet?"

    You gotta know the rules, suicide is instant forfeit. Right now, I am definitely loosing though, Bill is a hard guy to catch...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 12:44pm

    Staying right on target here, I'd like to ask this question, does anybody know the origin of the phrase, "I'm in your base, killing your doods!" ?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Necessity

    no, nessesity is the mother of invention, it still makes sense and still applys to this.

     

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  21.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 1:45pm

    Yup

    Yup, necessity drives the solution.

    The solution doesn't even exist without first having a problem (necessity).

    Youtube definitely can make money because it does have the markings of a successful site:

    -It offers a free sevice.

    -As a result it generates traffic.

     

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  22.  
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    Tara 'Miss Rogue' Hunt, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Yup

    Free drives traffic? Um. Have you looked at the spectrum of free out there?

    As a consultant to many really great services that are both free and simple to use, I should tell you that it ain't that simple.

    It's actually both way more complex and less complex than that...and beyond witchcraft, there are no formulaic explanations. Certainly, Dvorak has a good analysis of YouTube's success, but it doesn't mean it will work for everyone.

     

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  23.  
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    brian, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:28pm

    i thought this was about the keyboard

    i was excited to see Dvorak's name in a headline, since i recently switched to his awesome keyboard. it took kinda a tough transition time from the QWERTY board, and my speed still isn't what it used to be,.... but its only been 3 months since the switch and i really dont do all that much typing on it anyways. and i liked that quote about the difference between $0 and $1 is far greater that $1 to $20. its true

     

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  24.  
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    Brian Hayes, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:54pm

    Plenty ahead

    These are insightful, and fun, comments.

    But I want to pipe in to say that our first language is holography. We are primarily visual. Literacy is a new thing. Perhaps an inefficient tool as well.

    You bet it's "pent up demand". Technology that enable recovering and pursuing visual communication will rise to the forefront at every introduction.

    Even as Youtube goes the way of the wooden wheel, the future will be very different. Pictures will win.

     

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  25.  
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    Jake Lockley, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 10:15pm

    ThePlatform

    Ever heard of ThePlatform?

    Comcast bought them, they basically allow ANYONE to do what YouTube does, they are a hosted transcoding service that actually has a business plan - they target businesses and people who pay for their transcoding and streaming services.

    Since Comcast bought them in theory there's no reason why youc an't upload something to them and have it appear on cable - like ads for example. YouTube is little more than a brand.

     

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  26.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Yup

    Uhhhh....Yeah!

    Free drives traffic, I believe it was a first semester Web Commerce class I took 101. Prior to my 13 years as a web consultant.

    Anything else smart lady?

     

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  27.  
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    Susan F. Heywood, Sep 2nd, 2006 @ 8:59am

    youtube Business Model?

    Delighting the user with a site that works as it is supposed to, is easy to use and does something fun is indeed a recipe for relevance and success as John Dvorak noted.

    (And I would like to second the idea that "monetize" is a word that should be left in the 90's. I blame it partially for the bubble.)

    Creating a sustainable business model around a relevant community of users seems to describe a site with miore staying power.

    The Terms and Conditions page on youtube is a good place to start looking for the site's potential business model.

    According to the T&Cs, " by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successor's) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels." (bold added for emphasis)

    Compiling a huge library of content for distribution in other media, similar to recent projects with MTv and MySpace may be one of the ways that we will see youtube profit while still meeting the customer demand for a free and easy to use service that lets them share videos.

     

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  28.  
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    Super Duper, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 10:39am

    Embedded Content

    Web sites like MusicVideoZone.com featured embedded videos long before YouTube.com ever came on the scene. This isn't a new concept.

     

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