MSN was already seen as something of a leader in online video, but that reputation was forged on its work of securing the rights to commercial programming, then distributing it with advertising. Instead of focusing on this area, Microsoft apparently decided it needed to devote resources to building its own YouTube-a-like, dubbed Soapbox, which it's opened to beta testers. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything here that would compel people to use it over YouTube, and it looks like little more than a me-too play. See, the nice thing about YouTube is that it's a fairly open system, allowing users to embed videos in their own sites, like, say, an MSN Spaces blog. So instead of wasting resources to reinvent the wheel and duplicate YouTube's efforts, why not just work on a partnership with them that would let MSN leverage YouTube's existing user base, instead of having to fight the uphill battle of building its own from scratch, while at the same time expanding the market for the ad-supported video content it already has? But why do the smart thing, when you can simply just build another copycat web service that's bound for mediocrity?
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