By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 2, 2008

Filed under: Random 48 comments

This site turned three years old yesterday.

Looking back, I see a lot of posts that I’m proud of. There are posts from that first year that I still point to and talk about. But there are also goofy posts where I was amusingly wrong about things, and those can be fun to read for completely different reasons.

Two and a half years ago I stumbled on a site called “YouTube” or somesuch. I wrote about it, and how I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It looked like like a thin coat of respectability over the old filesharing model, spiked with a bit of dot-com foolishness – here was a site that was going to consume massive bandwidth (money) with no real way to make money.

Just two and a half years later and YouTube is more than just a household name, it’s a cultural force. Rather than turning into a big useless filesharing depot like I expected, it’s become a worldwide stage where would-be entertainers can attempt to build an audience. It’s doing to television what HTML did for books. It’s not replacing it, but it’s providing a way for people to do an end-run around traditional publishing methods. You can reach an audience for free, provided you don’t expect to get paid up-front. I’ve even made my own humble video contributions.

It’s pretty strange to see it going on. To this day, I still don’t see how they pay for the bandwidth. Yes, bandwidth has gotten cheaper (which is one of the things that made YouTube possible in the first place) but without so much as a banner ad, I can’t imagine they aren’t losing money at an incredible rate. But since YouTube was bought out by Google, I guess they can afford that sort of thing.

One interesting thing is how video quality has evolved as bandwidth has continually gotten cheaper. Imitators have cropped up, and in all cases their main selling point is the higher quality video. I’ve even heard people use “YouTube-ish” as an adjective to describe grainy, over-compressed video. YouTube is trying to correct this by introducing “hi-res” mode, and I would imagine at some point they’re going to make the sharper video the default unless they want to become the AOL of online video. But the only reason they have this problem is because they were first.

The next big thing?

Google is making their own browser.


From The Archives:

48 thoughts on “OurTube

  1. Viktor says:

    Maybe, maybe not. I look forwards to seeing what they do, but it will have to be good to get me away from the Fox.

  2. Kel'Thuzad says:

    You-tube is so popular, people I would never expect to know about it are quite familiar with it. Teachers, parents, etc.

    I think I’ll stick with IE.
    Happy day-after birthday of twenty-sided.

  3. qrter says:

    As of Q1 2008, YouTube is not profitable, with its revenues being noted as “immaterial” by Google in a regulatory filing. Its bandwidth costs are estimated at approximately $1 million a day. It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, and that around 13 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

    I got that from the Youtube Wikipedia page – yet another ‘web institution’ that seems to run on air instead of electricity..

  4. Factoid says:

    Last I heard, youtube has burned through several hundred million dollars in costs since it started. It’s a gigantic money pit and even google can’t figure out how to make money off of it.

    They’ve demoed several methods for serving ads. Some of the more terrible schemes included commercial-interuptions, and ad content inserted into the video-stream itself as an overlay or CNN-style tickertape bar.

    EDIT: Rumor has it bandwidth costs alone are somewhere in the vicinity of a million dollars a MONTH…not per day. This is based on the “100 million videos/day” statistic cited from Google, and some math on the average size, length, download speed of each video. Came out to something like 25 petabytes a month which someone figured costs google about a million dollars. Not sure where they get that price from…but the estimates seem resonable. Like here

  5. Poet says:

    I wish I had the kind of throwaway money these people apparently do.
    Also: Proud to say I’ve never uploaded anything to YT. I have zero interest in listening to the angsty rants of others, or watching more Will It Blend (spoiler: It frelling will), catching the newest meme, or anything else YT spreads like a virus, and even less interest in sharing my own attempts at these things with people I don’t know.
    But then, I’m an antisocial troll.

  6. Carra says:

    we are working on getting acquired, so that the new owners can deal with that “˜turn a profit' nonsense while we drink daquiris on a tropical beach.

    Seems we have a nostradamus amongst us:

    In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the company for US$1.65 billion in Google stock.

    As of Q1 2008, YouTube is not profitable, with its revenues being noted as “immaterial” by Google in a regulatory filing. Its bandwidth costs are estimated at approximately $1 million a day. It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, and that around 13 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

  7. RPharazon says:

    I personally can’t wait for the launch of Google Chrome. From the description, it has everything I want in a browser.

    Basically, a more secure, more aesthetically pleasing, more versatile, lighter Firefox.

    How can Google spend roughly $370,000,000 on Youtube a year? That is an amazing amount of money that will probably balloon upwards with the bandwidth costs associated with their high-res option. I have a feeling of dread associated with that, which is not good.

  8. Kevin says:

    Can you imagine creating a thing that costs a million bucks a day, doesn’t make any money, then turning around and selling it for 1.65 billion? I SO need a new job.

  9. Matt K says:

    I’m looking forward to Chrome since Firefox 3.0 was such a disappointment (I hate that damn “awesome bar”)

  10. Factoid says:

    Nevermind my previous post…that was ancient data I linked to. I should learn how to read a datestamp. Youtube’s fact-page now states “hundreds of millions” of videos per day.

  11. Eric Rossing says:

    An answer to the profitability question. Just posted on the Google Blog.

  12. kamagurka says:

    I so hope the Google browser is decent. Firefox has been declining in quality for a while, now.

  13. John Lopez says:

    Playing with Chrome all morning… I like it so far. It has rendered everything fine, even Javascript heavy pages. It has been quite fast and memory consumption has been low (although that could be due to not having all my Firefox plugin overhead).

    So far, so good.

  14. Skelnik says:

    Heh, the browser that I’m reading this entry on? Google Chrome.

    So far, so good. I have to get used to the fact that the “Open in new tab” link is first on the right-click menu and not second, but I applaud Google for releasing their own browser, and for pushing other browsers forward.

    It also took a couple tries for the Flash player plugin to take, without which this browser would have died, but I got it working.

    If I didn’t read their comic about the technology behind the browser, I might not have given it a test drive. However, Chrome is addressing some current browser issues and is a step in the right direction.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “To this day, I still don't see how they pay for the bandwidth”

    Easy:”Give us money or we wont restrict your copyrighted material being uploaded on our site”.The more you pay,the more zealos they are in removing anything with just a frame of your product.Case in point:Yu-gi-oh the abridged series.

  16. Factoid says:

    Now using Chrome. Loving it so far. It has a few bugs and annoyances, but overall I like it much better than Firefox, which I had just switched to from IE a couple weeks ago.

    It doesn’t have the plug-in support, though, which is what finally won me over for Firefox, but I’m sure it will be coming soon. The user interface is taking some getting used to, but the “omnibar” is very intuitive and creepy psychic. I’ve been using it for like 90 minutes and it already knows how to finish my sentences.

    Worst thing so far: The “auto-scroll” feature. When I press down on my mouse wheel it gives me the standard scroll movement icon, but it’s jerky instead of fluid. Seems every browser has a different implementation of this feature. I wonder if I can over-ride them with the one in the driver options.

    Edit: I take it back…the worst thing I’ve found is the “Show Password” button. Like most browsers Chrome will save passwords for websites automatically. I don’t use this, but lots of people do. You can see which websites you’ve saved passwords for, and then by clicking a button have that password displayed in PLAIN TEXT.

  17. matt says:

    Haven’t looked too much into chrome, but it looks like a different take on Opera, with speed dial and such, maybe it’ll have the power to get people away from FF, with all its bloat and rabid fanboys.

  18. Stark says:

    Chrome. Nice so far. Much MUCH faster than Firefox. Stable, clean interface, has some issue importing favorites though (only grabbed about half of mine). Overall…. excellent for a BETA product that’s free.

  19. Eltanin says:

    I’m trying out Chrome now. It’s Google-pretty which is nice. Clean. I read their comic too which I thought was quite wonderful. I nice mixture of easy to read but it was actually full of interesting technical details. I think that they should call it a graphic novel instead of a comic. :P

    I can’t get my mouse to auto-scroll at all. Jerky or not, it just won’t do it. Also, they don’t seem to have support for RSS feeds just yet which is a pretty big gap. Unless I’m missing something. Anyone else have success with RSS?

  20. Matt K says:

    I’ll actually be sticking with Firefox 2.0 at the moment since I can’t live with Adblocker Plus (it does more than block ads) and Spybot’s blacklisted websites. I’m sure by the time I feel the need to upgrade, Chrome will be supported.

    On a DRM note: It appears that there is already a crack for Spore. No clue if it works but I found it funny how quickly that took.

  21. Hepp says:

    Chrome here too…God I’m weak.
    Anyway, yes, it’s faster, and yes, it looks clean.
    On the downside, now Google has even more means of seeing who likes what, and putting the tabs on top (put them back below, like Windows puts the programs. Pretty please?) just means less space to display the names of seperate tab programs, because the close/minimize/maximize buttons are next to them. Oh well.
    Also, the auto-spellcheckbothered me in FF2.0, it bothered me in 2.5, it’s still bothering me here. Gah. And there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn it off! And it can only do one language at a time! Horrible!
    I’m not kidding, by the way. I frequently type in English, French and Dutch, and use a lot of jargon. I want either no spellchecking (I know I’m a horrible typer, thanks), or an easily adaptable and intelligent one – see: MS WOrd Vista. Not some half-bit thing that just puts squigly lines under every other word because it thinks I’m writing another language.

  22. Glyph says:

    Also posting on Chrome ATM. It is nice and fast, and I like how it gives much more screen real estate than Firefox did. Not liking the fact that Windowblinds refuses to skin it however. It’s very nice looking, but I’m not a fan of bright blues and whites. They often hurt the eyes at night. Maybe there’s some way of playing around in the files to alter the appearance, because there certainly isn’t a way through the menus.

    Also, something I noticed was the fact that each tab is in essence its own separate browser process. With each tab taking up almost as much memory as Firefox does for the entire application.

  23. Steve C says:

    I was on vaccation and I saw this odd machine in an arcade. It had a dance pad and was called Dance Dance Revolution. I knew whoever came up with that was going to lose their shirt. Gamers don’t want to make fools of themselves in public with physical activity. Ummm… ya.

  24. Heph says:

    On a completely unrelated noted, but something I’ve been wondering: where/how are the avatars on here determined? The same person always has the same avatar, but I don’t see any way to change it…and yes, it’s probably been asked a million times before, and yes, I’m currently too lazy to look. Sorry.

  25. Eltanin says:

    Heph if you click on “projects” to the right and scroll down to the December 2007 and March 2008 range, you’ll see a lot of posts there about “Wavatars”.

    Short answer? It’s a plug-in that Shamus wrote himself. With his magic skills.

  26. Grr, I LOVE my Linux but it does make it hard to wait for the brand new shiny browser. Sigh.

  27. ZzzzSleep says:

    Eltanin: @ 19
    For RSS they probably want you to use Google reader instead.

  28. RichardB says:

    Well, if YouTube can let genuine artists publicise themselves via word-of-net without selling their souls to the sausage machine, for example this shameless plug for a favourite (Marian Call) then more power to it. But I too have wondered from day one where YouTube makes its money, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    PS A techie thing I can’t explain: YouTube videos that can be viewed on the iPhone (i.e. that have been re-encoded in the H.264 codec) look a helluva lot better viewed on my iPhone than in “high quality” on my PC and Mac. Pixel-detail is the same, but the colours are a lot more natural on the iPhone, with less of the extremes of pink and green that one used to associate with NTSC. What’s with that? Take the above link for example. I can’t explain this if the PC/Mac “high quality” version is also using the same H.264 codec. Before you ask, yes all my screens are properly colour-calibrated.

    PPS I suppose I now have to test anything I write on Chrome on all platforms. Sigh: competition is good, I suppose, but whatever happened to Tim Berners-Lee’s idea of writing to a single, simple standard and you’re done? I weep for the mess that is Web 2.0.

  29. Eltanin says:


    Hmmmm. Yes, Google reader. I forgot that existed. Silly me. I’ll have to go check it out. Thanks for the heads up!

  30. RichardB says:

    @25: Is there a feat to re-roll one’s Wavatar, sort of creating a Gravitar? Angry d12 is so not me… :-)

    Barbarian is the one class I don’t play in D&D.

  31. zeruslord says:

    “It’s about making the browser faster, since substantially greater usage translates directly into revenues,” Google co-founder Larry Page said. “So I think there are very direct benefits. You only have 24 hours in the day and we’d like you to do more searches and if the browser runs faster we get more searches.”

    I knew it was a plot. On the other hand, this is a brilliant, nice, and friendly one. The fact is that Google stands to gain the most from an improvement in browsers, especially in AJAX handling speed. Even if it gains no market share and all its features get stolen by Firefox, Opera and Safari, Google still wins because it gets easier to use their services and view their ads. Google might even want to fail in the extensions, themes, and visual appeal departments, because then its core components, especially the javascript engine, will, borg-like, assimilate itself into Firefox and Opera.

  32. modus0 says:

    @ Factoid, Firefox (at least ver. 3) has the same thing regarding passwords.

    Chrome’s not bad, but I’m missing the AdBlock in Firefox now. Guess I got too used to *not* seeing blinking things vying for my attention allowing me to focus on the “meat” of the page.

  33. Viktor says:

    How much mem does it actually use? Because I hate how much FF uses, and if Chrome runs that much for a single tab, I’m not touching it if it feeds me candy when I type.

  34. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Matt K:

    Your kidding?

    Your not!Bwahaha!Spore is being released on the 5th,yet there already is a cracked torrent!I love it!Love it how EA burns!!

    Shamus,maybe a text about inside jobs would be a nice jab at the futillity of DRM.

    As for the browser,Ill stick with opera,thank you.Since I have a wireless keyboard and type a lot of text,I tend to take it in my lap,and opera allows me to not use the mouse at all,which is great.

    Oh,and unlike FF,opera saves what Ive typed so the text doesnt disappear when I screw up and have to go back,like I had to just now.

  35. concerned says:

    Again I must voice my opinion to Google-lovers, for sad reasons.
    In the past downloads of the “GoogleBar” extensions for Firefox and Internet Explorer have been declining as people realize the impact of submitting every URL they browse to Google’s servers. Now millions are embracing new ways to enhance Google’s domination in search and advertising markets on the net.
    I really hate to rant here, but as long as a browser does not allow me to control what it sends over the net it gets trashed like any other software, or even more so.
    I’m not saying they don’t deserve a chance – i’ll be reevaluating the final (read “1.0”) release and decide then. Just a warning, though: Google stated they they worked 2 years on Chrome… They want to make some money with it just like with YT. Think how that could be done in a Browser.

  36. Matt K says:

    @ Daemian Lucifer: Yup, apparently some group named Reloaded has one I don’t think you can go online, but the whole game has been out since yesterday (apparently from Australia who broke the sell date).

    The steps for using the files from the torrent:

    1. Unrar
    2. Burn or mount the image
    3. Install the game
    4. Don’t install the download manager, don’t start without copying over crack
    first, don’t register the game with an EA account, and don’t go online
    5. Copy the cracked content over from the Crack directory on the disc to
    your installation directory\SporeBin
    6. Play the game.

    I have no clue how well it works since I don’t pirate new games (only long since out of print ones) but from what I read, the game does play.

  37. Scott S. says:

    Hm, seems worth trying. I like Firefox well enough, but it’s been slipping lately. Will definitely be watching Chrome.

  38. Veylon says:

    Yes, firefox seems to have gotten glitzy all of a sudden. Suprisingly, unlike Vista, I can’t turn it back to look like the old Win9X style.

  39. The Lone Duck says:

    I was going to make a post earlier, and my browser shut down. The irony was I was defending IE, and it bugged out on me. I’m still not gonna switch to Firefox, as I don’t like the interface, but Google’s browser sounds like an improvement. But I’ll wait untill I have my own computer to use. (I’m between computers at the moment.)
    Regarding Youtube, I wonder if YouTubes “immaterial” profits refere to it being a money sink, or merely breaking even. There are plenty of business assets that aren’t profitable in of themselves, but aren’t a waste of money either. I don’t know though. Haven’t done any research.

  40. Mario says:

    I’m using Chrome now too. I’m actually surprised; I just wanted to play around, but now I can’t bring myself to switch back to Firefox. My biggest problem so far has been, ironically enough, the lack of a Google toolbar. It seems like the sort of thing Google would put on its own browser.

    (Other problems: my touchpad doesn’t scroll up, forcing you to use a bookmark toolbar to get your bookmarks from a list, tabs on top, and non-customizable color scheme. Minor stuff, really)

    @Factoid & modus0: Yes, Firefox has the same password problem, but I actually needed to use it just today when I had to enter my passwords into Chrome (some got transferred, others didn’t). I used to hate it, but I guess I’m not in a position to complain now.

  41. Matt K says:

    @ Mario: I’d definitely miss the google toolbar (or imdb/wikipedia/dictionary toolbar) I have in Firefox. That and spell checking which I love having when I type up posts.

    However, considering they just unveiled it, I’m hoping to see spell check, search bar, and Ad Blocker Plus (or something similar) in due time. And if they don’t, then with any luck the competition will force Firefox to at least make a better version preferably more along to lines of 2.0 (or at least allow us to opt out of some of their “innovation”).

  42. Moridin says:

    Eh, I don’t really like FF3.0 either, so I’ll still be using the 2.0. I’ll have to give he Chrome a try though. I have so many add-ons I don’t want to be without(the first thing I do after I’ve downloaded Firefox is to get most add-ons want) that I really don’t think I’ll do the switch.

  43. Blue Painted says:

    Hmmm … mostly FF people looking at Chrome. Could be because the sort of person who switches to FF is the sort of person who switches browser?

    Web comic of the changes here:


  44. Heph says:

    @ Matt K.: there is a spell check in Chrome. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to turn it off.

    @Eltanin: thanks :-)

  45. Rustybadger says:

    Michael Wesch and his Digital Anthropology class have been doing some interesting research into the YouTube phenomenon. When you get right down to it, it’s a pretty fascinating subject, and there’s some compelling data about our society in there. Personally, I love YouTube. My nephew, who is 3 years old, knows already that ANYTHING he wants to learn, he can find out on YouTube.

    As far as how it’s being monetized, who cares? When your government is spending almost SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS A DAY fighting an emotion (AN EMOTION! Fer pity’s sake!), Google’s expenditures on YouTube kinda pales in comparison.

  46. Viktor says:

    Shamus, are you going to review Chrome? I’m hearing mixed, and I don’t want to go through the trouble to try if it is worse on mem than FF, but you’re one of the few people I trust to be both unbiased and smart.

  47. Euphemism says:

    I’ve been following Chrome pretty heavily, so here’s some interesting points:

    – The tabs moved to the top? That’s to satisfy Fitt’s Law. Which means once you get used to it, you’ll like it more than Firefox style.

    – Chrome initially had a Terms of Service that implied that it owned all content you posted through it. Turns out that was due to copy/pasting of the standard Terms of Service and has now been fixed.

    – Chrome is based on Webkit, which is what drives Safari. This has two implications: First, all web sites that render in Safari will render in Chrome. No need to treat this as yet another standard to satisfy.
    – Caveat to the above. Chrome does not render exactly as Safari does. There are instances where it looks worse. This may be due to differences between Windows and Mac. One contributing factor is the use of Cleartype fonts.

    – Chrome uses an outdated version of Webkit. That means it’s vulnerable to one thing that has been fixed in newer versions – Files can be forced to be downloaded automatically to your default download folder. They won’t be run automatically, but still…

    – Downloading Chrome and installing it comes with a GoogleUpdater that will periodically call home. This has been proven to be difficult (read: No one knows how to do it or at least, no one has posted a guide for:) to remove.
    – No one knows what nefarious activities the Updater is running – however, posts by reputable (?) bloggers have suggested that this is part of the anti-phishing service provided.

    – Chrome, when running, will spin up your drives and perform heavy read/write quite often. To prevent this, turn off the anti-phishing site service.

    – The anti-phishing site service is provided in the following manner: Google has a database of blacklisted sites. It provides you with a 32-bit hash of those sites. When you visit a site with that 32-bit hash, it’ll send the hash to Google which will send you back a(multiple) 256-bit hash(es) to allow you to determine if it is indeed the phishing site. Note that this means that Google cannot track you through the 32-bit hash because there are far more than 2^32 websites on the Internet.

    – When I first installed Chrome, it allowed me to specify the download directory and import my bookmarks from Firefox. This was on my Laptop. Later installations did not give me either of those options… Odd.

    – If you haven’t read the comic strip about Chrome yet, read it. It’s enlightening, and will tell you about the interesting features. Like sandboxing your tabs for security, and incognito mode (or as my friend calls it, porn mode)

    – Typing about:memory in the address bar will tell you how much memory is consumed by Chrome. I just did so now – it seems to be about 1-10M per tab, plus shared memory, plus plugin (Flash takes 30M), plus 20-40M for the browser itself. YMMV

    – Typing about:% in the address bar will instantly crash chrome the moment you type the %.

    – Remember that this is Beta Software. The main driving point behind Chrome is that it has faster Javascript. Although apparently the new FF 3.1 will have faster Javascript than Chrome.

    – Chrome has a single address bar, no search bar. However, if you go to a site, and make use of that site’s search feature, you can then begin to type that site, hit tab, and it changes into a search for that site. This feature has been tested with youtube and wikipedia. Though I still prefer the ‘y %s’ and ‘w %s’ that I can use with Opera and FF. Space is easier to hit than tab.

    And, of course, I’ve saved the best for last.
    Chrome is open source – that means you can check the code yourself to make sure it’s not set up so that Google spies on you, and you can compile it yourself. Of course, why do that when you can rely on someone else to do it for you? (The second part, not the first. Although I recall reading that someone did check the first part to make sure that the browser doesn’t dial home to report nefarious stats).
    Google Portable Chrome. Or just use this link: http://stadt-bremerhaven.de/2008/09/03/portable-chrome-021510/
    It’s compiled from Chromium, the open source version of Chrome, with all of Chrome’s features, without needing to accept the Google Terms of Service.

    One last thing. I’ve been experiencing Chrome freezing a lot on this site – I think it’s related to the Flash plugin.

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