YouTube has been an undeniable global phenomenon with more than 100 million videos stored and viewed daily by millions of Web watchers. The site has empowered individuals all over the world to become content providers. Traditional broadcasters have been trying to figure out how to co-exist with this new technological marvel; more than a few fear that YouTube heralds an end to traditional TV programming.
After YouTube's founders sold it to Google for $1.65 billion last October, less than two years after it was founded, it sparked a gold rush for Web entrepreneurs hoping to recreate its success. 'This is just the beginning of an Internet video revolution,' Google CEO Eric Schmidt proclaimed when the deal was announced.
It's little wonder such hype has spawned imitators. Consider, for example, the new Web site MYUBO. A video sharing portal launched in January by Tom Horn Enterprise, a small IT company based in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, MYUBO can provide something that YouTube cannot: mobile telephone access.
The company's senior IT manager Michal Sersen, who has been contacting journalists around the world seeking publicity, notes that the MYUBO service 'works on all mobile data networks - GPRS, EDGE, CDMA or 3G/UMTS. And we support a majority of common mobile phones.' (The service can be accesses via the Web at www.myubo.com or from mobile phones at http://myubo.mobi. )
The only precondition is that the mobile phone used must support 3GP streaming.
So far, MYUBO is no YouTube. A recent visit showed about 650 videos available lumped into about a dozen different categories, the largest being humor, funny ads and music. The portal exists in three languages: English, Slovak and Czech. 'The portal is intended mainly for Slovak and Czech users who do not want their creation to be lost in the tangle of videos on YouTube,' company officials explain in a Web posting.
Still, the site has promise. Aside from the user-generated content, it offers live streaming of TV content such as the Al Jazeera news channel, Slovakian TV 3 and a Czech Parliament TV feed.
'In the next step, the portal will offer new services, such as an online film and music library, virtual video gambling and interactive TV,' the site's founders say. 'At the same time, the MYUBO creators are negotiating with other media partners and young creative artists who use new technologies and media to express themselves.'
All in all, it's an interesting concept, and MYUBO seems to have an early edge with its mobile technology. However, that edge won't last long. Google could take YouTube mobile within a year.
And there are plenty of other competitors. Microsoft's Soapbox on MSN Video is a solid video-sharing service that has been operating since last year. Just last month, San Diego site Veoh Networks formally launched, stocked with 100,000 amateur and professional videos (including some from networks and movie studios) and backed by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who serves as a director. (The site achieved passing notoriety in beta-testing last year by allowing users to upload pornographic videos; explicit content is now deleted.) And there's Joost, an online TV venture started by KaZaa's creators.