YouTube, Apple, Google succeed with focus on users

If YouTube had to be sold, Google is about the best choice. At least there is some hope that copyright cops won’t immediately descend from corporate on-high and remove EVERYTHING not nailed down, that some of the long-tail professional content will remain. Some hope, but not forever hope. And Google has a lot of smart marketing minds, so if anybody can figure out how to make money from the site without destroying its DYI essence, Google can.

But this post from Lost Remote really caught my eye:

It’s hard to describe the magnitude of today’s YouTube deal, not in financial terms but as further evidence that traditional television still doesn’t get it. How it is that Apple and now Google have become the destinations and marketplaces for video on the web? They’re the new networks using the same currency — video — as TV has for years. It’s because they’ve not been constrained by old media thinking. The level of naysaying that continued up to the final hour of the Google-YouTube deal proves my point. First it was “who would ever watch stupid clips online?” Then “they’ll never make money” and finally “they’ll get sued out of business.” The networks wrote cease-and-desist letters, then weeks later started posting video on the site. In Apple’s case, it was “who wants to pay to watch TV shows on a PC or a tiny iPod?” Lots of people. It’s not about control, it’s about choice. It’s not about mass, it’s about niche. It’s not about publishing, but facilitating and connecting. It’s not about us, it’s about the user. “The thing that tipped us over was not the great business success of YouTube,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said today. “But in fact the vision of serving their end users.” While traditional media scrambles to protect and incrementally improve its bottom line, companies like YouTube, Google and Apple are pursuing new opportunities focused on the user. And that’s what sets them apart.

Contrast that with this quote from an editor on an industry mailing list this evening — the editor is raising concerns about reader comments on stories:

I’m an insider…I know the difference between reader comment and news content. But when I’m reminded that many readers just lump it all together as The New Mexican, I feel sick. …

Providing a sound-off forum is an easy choice, if gut-reaction, quick wit, sarcasm, cheap shots, sensation and glibness are our goals. If we want more – good sense and seriousness along with some fun – we have to look more deeply at the numbers so we may peel back the layers and learn what they really show.

My concern is that too many people in newsrooms are unable or unwilling to focus on the user. User content that fails to achieve pre-ordained journalistic standards is met with disdain, which only serves to drive readers further away.

UPDATE: Related, Steve Yelvington takes on some other old media think on the same list serve.

UPDATE: Related in subject only, the News-Record editor discussion what conversational journalism has meant to his news organization. Lessons learned.(Via Will Sullivan)

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