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Five Years of YouTube and Forced Evolution 329

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the court-of-public-opinion dept.
NakNak writes to mention that the DailyMaverick has a feature looking back at five years of YouTube, some of the massive changes that have been forced through as a result of its overwhelming popularity, and what changes might be necessary going forward. "Google, which bought YouTube less than two years after it was founded for what was then considered outrageously expensive $1.65 billion, does not want Microsoft or Apple (or anybody else) to own the dominant video format. So it has become the biggest early tester of HTML5. Your browser doesn't support HTML5? Google launches its own browser, Chrome. Need to use Internet Explorer at work because that's all your IT department supports? Google launches a Chrome framework that effectively subverts IE and makes it HTML5-compatible. The final blow will be the day that YouTube switches off Flash and starts streaming only to HTML5 browsers. On that day all browsers will be HTML5 compatible or they will perish in the flames of user outrage."
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Five Years of YouTube and Forced Evolution

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  • Perish (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lije Baley (88936) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:50PM (#31149056)

    Yes, perish for lack of Flash, just like the Iphone is now.

    • Re:Perish (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:56PM (#31149146) Homepage Journal

      Name a popular flash-only site than a majority of iPhone users visit on a regular basis on their desktop or laptop.

      YouTube works on iPhone, and Safari for iPhone supports HTML5. From an industry perspective, iPhone's lack of Flash is a *good* thing. From a personal standpoint, as an iPhone user, its a small negative - something that would be nice, but to be honest, I don't really miss.

      • Re:Perish (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Abalamahalamatandra (639919) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:10PM (#31149340)

        I'm not an Apple fanboi, but I will say: the problem is not that the iPhone doesn't support Flash, the problem is that Flash, as a proprietary overlay to the open Web, even exists.

        I spend most of my time on my desktop using NoScript to actively BLOCK Flash, and grudgingly allow it to run when I have no other alternative to get the information I need. Flash support on a mobile phone without the means to easily block it via a permissions structure is an absolute battery and usability nightmare waiting to happen.

        • the problem is not that the iPhone doesn't support Flash, the problem is that Flash, as a proprietary overlay to the open Web, even exists.

          gad_zuki! makes a good point [slashdot.org]: Is the open Web capable of delivering an experience analogous to the Flash animations and games seen at, say, Newgrounds?

          • by tagno25 (1518033)
            Yes, HTML5 can replace Flash for almost ALL uses, including games
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Toonol (1057698)
              I'm skeptical. But also...

              Once you can make annoying animated music playing hovering popup advertisements in HTML5, won't they be even harder to filter out than Flash?
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by CopaceticOpus (965603)

                For one thing, you can make annoying animated music playing hovering popup advertisements today without using Flash.

                Once HTML5 is in place, the browser will have more control over how audio and video is played. This means that the browser or a browser extension will be able to block audio and video from unapproved sites, in the same way that Flash and Javascript blockers work today.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        From an industry perspective, iPhone's lack of Flash is a *good* thing.

        Yes, but "industry perspective" isn't the one paying for the iPhones.

        This is why I still hung on to some of my Apple shares when I cashed most of it in a few years back. You've got to hand it to a company that can engender the kind of true-believerness that would say "No, really, I for one am glad it doesn't have an SD slot or longer battery life. If Steve Jobs wanted us to have unlimited storage, he would have provided for it, and who

      • by precize (83096)

        Hulu

        • by lwsimon (724555)

          Granted. And Netflix.

          But thank God, because AT&T's network is already slow enough :)

          That's going to be an even bigger issue for the iPad, though.

    • Except that you can watch YouTube on the iPhone.

  • by boudie2 (1134233) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:53PM (#31149100)
    Checking today there are 3,180 videos matching the term "lighting farts". That and people reviving Rick Astley's career. It's a fun diversion, but you really have to wonder. About civilization.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      The most popular apps on iphones are fart simulators, yet we accept that platform as important.

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      "Checking today there are 3,180 videos matching the term "lighting farts"."

      The real question on my mind and alot of other /.'rs is of those 3,180 videos matching the term "lighting farts" how many combined views do they have?

      Armed with that knowledge then and only then would I really begin to wonder about civilization.
      • From 1608:

        The Censure of the Parliament Fart

        Never was bestowed such an art
        Upon the tuning of a fart.
        Downe came grave auntient Sir John Cooke
        And redd his message in his booke.
        Fearie well, Quoth Sir William Morris, Soe:
        But Henry Ludlowes Tayle cry'd Noe.
        Up starts one fuller of devotion
        The Eloquence; and said a very ill motion
        Not soe neither quoth Sir Henry Jenkin
        The Motion was good; but for the stincking
        Well quoth Sir Henry Poole it was a bold tricke
        To Fart in the nose of the bodie pollitique
        Indeed I confesse

    • by Petrushka (815171) on Monday February 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#31150150)

      It's a fun diversion, but you really have to wonder. About civilization.

      People are still reading Aristophanes. Fart jokes have always been funny. I'm not worrying too much. (Not about that, anyway.)

  • or..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tacokill (531275) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:56PM (#31149134)
    On that day all browsers will be HTML5 compatible or they will perish in the flames of user outrage

    Or, like the thousands of examples that came before.....people will simply go to another website that does not have such requirements.

    But don't let me rain on your parade.
  • some business school moron could have said "hey, why don't we leverage our power and force a proprietary format on consumers, and they will be our captive audience"

    like microsoft

    like sony

    etc

    has any of it worked? no

    for all the anxiety about google's increasing power, as long google does something like this: actively undermine and destroy a closed format in favor of an open one, then the consumer wins, google wins, other companies win, progress and innovation wins, and shortsighted greedy assholes who try to manipulate market inefficiencies in their favor lose (i'm looking at you, music and other media companies). in this context, at least, google really is "doing no evil"

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:09PM (#31149320)

      for all the anxiety about google's increasing power, as long google does something like this: actively undermine and destroy a closed format in favor of an open one

      You mean like how Google actively undermines H.264?

      Yes. I am very impressed that they are actively undermining H.264.

      Definitely it can be said that Google actively undermines H.264.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        H.264 is a open standard, patent encumbered, but open, with several available decoders/encoders.
        Compare to flash, where theres ONE implementation, by the same company writing the "standard", and licensing prohibits writing a compatible decoder...
    • When you chose what your customers will have or not have, calling them evil isn't a long stretch.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:56PM (#31149140)

    On that day all browsers will be HTML5 compatible or they will perish in the flames of user outrage

    While youtube is nice for idling away some downtime, it's not the internet-dominating force this article makes out. If it disappeared tomorrow, than apart from instantly increasing corporate productivity and allowing children everywhere to get their homework done on time, there wouldn't be so much of a change.

    There are also (sit down, this might be a bit of a shock) lots and lots of people who rarely, if ever visit youtube. For them, it's existence or change in the tech. it needs will make no difference at all - if their old browsers fail I'm sure they find other things to do on the internet.

    While I'm sure youtube will keep going - for some time at least, and will change more over time there's nothing life changing about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tsm_sf (545316)

      You're not really making a distinction between people who are surfing the tubes for recreation and people who are working or studying. If you're just kicking around, then youtube and co. are certainly optional stops. But it's also the prime gathering point for stuff like TED talks, "man on the street" video reporting, Sagan mashups, HOWTO videos, out of circulation educational films, and so forth. It's not really that important to have all of this hosted by YouGoogly, but it is nice to have one place to

    • by FranTaylor (164577) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:25PM (#31149568)

      "If it disappeared tomorrow, than apart from instantly increasing corporate productivity"

      Really? My employer uses YouTube a lot. We make YouTube videos of customer recommendations. Having an engineer gush about all of the time he saves with our product makes a very effective sales tool.

      A lot of companies use YouTube for instructional videos for their products. Why bother with complex printed directions when you can watch a real live human do it?

      Really you should not dismiss the value of something just because YOU can't figure out how to do something useful with it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816)

      it's not the internet-dominating force this article makes out.

      Did you miss the part about networks being overwhelmed and major fight over who pays for the bandwidth? That's pretty major. Maybe not "dominating", but that's your word.

      If it disappeared tomorrow, than apart from instantly increasing corporate productivity and allowing children everywhere to get their homework done on time, there wouldn't be so much of a change.

      Have you been following the news at all over the last two years? Just a few days ago, the FDIC felt compelled to rebut corruption allegations in a viral video. Other such videos has successfully promoted or destroyed movies, more or less put ACORN out of business, and a lot mor

    • How many of those businesses that have forced their users to remain on IE6 have also blocked youtube?
    • by Kjella (173770)

      While youtube is nice for idling away some downtime, it's not the internet-dominating force this article makes out. If it disappeared tomorrow, than apart from instantly increasing corporate productivity and allowing children everywhere to get their homework done on time, there wouldn't be so much of a change.

      You're right, but there's a big difference between YouTube disappearing and YouTube not working for you. People link to YouTube all the time, be it friends or chats or blogs and even newspaper articles do that around here, it'd be like a part of Internet that is broken to you. Personally, I think moving from flash/H.264 to HTML5/H.264 is a great step forward, and those that are desperately trying to hold it back (Mozilla, Opera) just aren't achieving anything. Even if they will or can not support H.264 nati

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:56PM (#31149144) Journal
    There won't be enough waaaambulances in the entire world to handle the mass-casualty incident at Adobe HQ...
    • They won't. TFA is just extrapolating in fictitious directions to get attention (what else is new). They'd damage the most valuable thing they have: their massive audience. How did people react when they started pulling support for IE6? Multiply that by a few thousands.
      It makes a nice story about how Google would "force their way" onto the industry, but it doesn't work like that. They care, dearly, about what their users do/think/behave, and pissing them off by doing something that the vast majority of user
      • Oh, I agree that they would have absolutely no reason to do that(If nothing else, my understanding is that recent versions of flash can act as a not-especially-competent h.264 player, so there wouldn't even be server-side storage concerns).

        I just find imaging Adobe's reaction to be highly amusing. Ever since Apple snubbed them for the iPhone, they've tarted up their proprietary runtime as the "Open screen project" and emitted a steady stream of sad noises about anybody who thinks that Flash could possibl
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:57PM (#31149150) Homepage Journal

    On that day all browsers will be HTML5 compatible or they will perish in the flames of user outrage

    Most users don't know and don't care about the standards wars. What's more likely to happen is:

    • User has been using IE and watching YouTube for umpteen number of years
    • Google shuts out Flash and IE, only supporting HTML 5
    • User notices YouTube doesn't work anymore
    • User gets angry at YouTube, not IE. MS isn't the one that changed something, Google is.
    • Google backpedals in a way reminiscent of New Coke in 1986
    • by inanet (1033718) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:05PM (#31149266)
      User sees link "Can't see the video? Click here to remedy and download Google Chrome" user downloads and installs Google Chrome. Microsoft cries in pain. Users these days are a good deal smarter than they used to be, if someone is smart enough to install flash, they are smart enough to install Chrome.. for the most part, or they will have a kid / friend who will do it for them.
    • Chrome Frame (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:08PM (#31149312) Homepage Journal

      User gets angry at YouTube, not IE

      "YouTube no longer uses Flash. Now we use Chrome Frame to provide you with new features. Click here to install Chrome Frame." The user response really isn't that much different from the "Your Flash Player is too old" that YouTube started serving once Nintendo finally upgraded Wii Internet Channel from Flash 7.

      • Sure, and piss off IT support all over the world. Companies that lock their employees in IE don't let them install plugins apart from a pre-approved list, which is usually installed in advanced. They have the corporate world to deal with, and they won't be as easy to convince as average Joe will.
        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Why are corporate employees watching Youtube at work? Obviously there may be some useful technical talks and the like, but in most companies very few people have a legitimate reason for doing so.

          And any company which locks their employees into using IE probably deserves everything they get.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by derGoldstein (1494129)

            Why are corporate employees watching Youtube at work? Obviously there may be some useful technical talks and the like, but in most companies very few people have a legitimate reason for doing so.

            For the same reason they'd browse Facebook and have a twitter app on the side -- people aren't machines. It's true that quite a few companies block facebook/youtube/twitter/myspace, but they're not the majority. Any "sane" company worries about employee output, not how said employees go about producing it.

            And any company which locks their employees into using IE probably deserves everything they get.

            This includes many government institutions in the western world. They use IE because it's easy to administer across a large network. The major hurdle for any non-IE browser is to get into corporate environ

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sinning (1433953)
      Or..
      • Google notifies users to download an HTML5 compatible browser.
      • User moves to Chrome and never looks back to IE.

      It may actually benefit Google to give users a reason to switch to Chrome.

    • by lordsid (629982)

      Are you trying to say Google is afraid their trademark on youtube will run out and come out with NewYouTube in response?

      Because otherwise you epically fail at analogies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maugle (1369813)
      Google would be stupid to shut off Flash support entirely. But there's nothing stopping them from making it increasingly more difficult to get to the Flash content, while making the "Your browser is obsolete, use one of (list of alternative browsers)!" messages increasingly larger and more annoying.

      The end result is that Joe User doesn't get angry at YouTube for "suddenly not working", but eventually gets the message that his browser is broken and needs upgrading.
  • " The final blow will be the day that YouTube switches off Flash and starts streaming only to HTML5 browsers. On that day all browsers will be HTML5 compatible or they will perish in the flames of user outrage."

    Except, YouTube won't turn off Flash until a super-majority of users have HTML-5 compliant browsers. (Actually, since a super-majority is usually considered to be 60% or 66%, that probably still wouldn't be enough - I wouldn't shut off any potential customers until I was north of 90% deployment, thou

  • IE6 rules! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Management is going to be VERY happy that youtube will stop working with older web browsers. User productivity is going to skyrocket.

  • ... the reason flash became so popular was because there was nothing better.

    I think anyone who thinks HTML5 video is going to displace flash has to look to how MP3 was not displaced by better formats like AAC, OGG, etc, etc.

    • I think anyone who thinks HTML5 video is going to displace flash has to look to how MP3 was not displaced by better formats like AAC, OGG, etc, etc.

      Actually, that's EXACTLY why Flash will be replaced by HTML5. MP3 support is basically built into every media player out there, while AAC and OGG aren't. If HTML5 is built into every browser, but Flash requires a download (and frequent updates because of security holes), HTML5 will win in the long run.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SEE (7681)

        If HTML5 is built into every browser,

        Pretty damn big "if", there.

        Microsoft has expressed no interest in supporting HTML5 at all in Internet Explorer. It's been made very clear that Firefox will not support patent-and-royalty encumbered H.264. Opera joins Mozilla in its hostility to H.264. "It plays on Safari and Chrome" is not a compelling sales pitch on either side of the creator-viewer divide.

        On the other hand, Flash? The plugin is already ubiquitous; Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris all have Flash 10, and it works with both NPAPI a

  • The bigger issue is not Flash or HTML5, it's which codec implementers of HTML5 will choose to support. Mozilla, for good reasons (IMHO), is not willing to support H.264, but that seems to be the direction YouTube is heading. But as good and open as Theora is, I think don't believe there is any hardware with a Theora accelerator (yet?).

    In any case, some support browsers both H.264 and Ogg Theora, some support only one, and we all know Microsoft is unlikely to support either any time soon.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Mozilla, for good reasons (IMHO), is not willing to support H.264, but that seems to be the direction YouTube is heading. But as good and open as Theora is, I think don't believe there is any hardware with a Theora accelerator (yet?).

      You can make use of the DSP that's used for H.264 acceleration and use it for Theora acceleration or any other similar workload. That's what's been done here:

      http://www.schleef.org/blog/20...-c64x-dsp-and-omap3/ [schleef.org]

      As mentioned in the post, that work is broadly applicable to Nokia's N series of phones, the Motorola Droid, and the Palm Pre. There are millions of devices in the field today which are capable of accelerated Theora playback. All they need is the software.

      See also Christopher Blizzard's post on the i

  • What use would HTML5 have if Google insists on streaming crystal-clear high-definition unskippable ads to me in a few seconds, but streams the video to me bit-by-bit to the point where it takes five minutes to watch a one minute HD video.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by macs4all (973270)

      What use would HTML5 have if Google insists on streaming crystal-clear high-definition unskippable ads to me in a few seconds, but streams the video to me bit-by-bit to the point where it takes five minutes to watch a one minute HD video.

      Boy, I couldn't agree more with that!

      I recently switched the "Try HTML5" thing on, and I've got to say, they need to assemble and download those clips a helluva lot faster. They've made the site nearly un-fun.

      To the point that I'm about ready to "un-volunteer" to be an HTML5 Guinea Pig...

  • by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:45PM (#31149820)

    I've been selected to try out the new YouTube video page. If that's forced evolution, then I don't want to be a part of it...

    There are no normal links anywhere anymore. Whereas previously the video links were http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxxxxxxxx [youtube.com], they are now monstrosities with a hundred characters in the URL.

    It's all full of AJAX. I haven't tried disabling JS to see what happens... The layout has changed, it's confusing, and it's ugly. When the video you are watching stops, the next one starts automatically, as if it were all a giant playlist.

    If you get that piece of garbage (which is a clear devolution, not an evolution), delete YouTube's cookies. I'm not sure which one was responsible; I just got rid of all of them and got normal YouTube back.

  • Forcing Change (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Monday February 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#31150148)
    And nobody mentioned the IE 6 ban in G-Docs... Google is moving the internet foward.

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