Shall Youtube Buy The Flip?

Two days ago, Youtube announced the launch of its new 16:9 player. A lot of people reacted to this imposed video format, arguing that they should at least be given the choice of the player format. On that aspect, I totally agree. By changing the formats, not letting us know way on advance, and not offering us the option to keep the old format, Youtube is totally neglecting the art of video editing. Before even capturing an image, a video producer should be aware of the output format, simply because there are compression rules he needs to respect to optimize the output video quality. Nicely done Youtube!

However, the new video format is really cool. It is not clear yet if the embeds will be 16:9 too, but I have my reasons for not wishing this to happen (plus it would hardly fit in most blog posts). I noticed something funny though: I bought the new Flip Mino HD. I received it this week end, not even 48 hrs after, Youtube tells me that I can now download my new “HD” videos and play them in full size through their new 16:9 player. Seriously, shall we call this coincidence?

The Flip has become extremely popular since its launch barely a year and a half a go. On Twitter, people are crazy about their handcam:

twitter flipcam

Now let’s start considering this weird synergy between the two companies: On one end, Youtube possess the online video market the way Google holds the search market. The problem is that the video provider doesn’t generate any money really. The Sponsored Video program did not generate a whole lot of enthusiasm from marketers. Sponsored Video Program is not Adwords. Your landing page is a video posted on Youtube. Try to make money out of that!

On the other end, Pure Digital is on a roll. The pocket-sized Flip video cameras gobble up 24 percent of the nation’s camcorder market, placing it second only to electronics giant Sony in just 18 months. Deloitte LLP recently put Pure Digital at the top of its fastest growing software and information technology companies, with five-year growth of 44,667 percent through 2007.

I used to track all new videos uploaded to Youtube withholding the keywords uploaded Flip. The resulting volume for this query is overwhelming. Wouldn’t it make sense for Youtube to acquire the up-and-coming video recording device company, and start generating revenue on hardware that lets you easily upload to their platform?

It would make sense for two reasons:

  1. The iTouch is showing us how a small portable media device can be efficiently connected to the web. I could bet a penny (high roller, that’s me!) that Pure Digital’s next development move will be to get rid of the USB connection on Flip cams for the benefit of a wireless experience.
  2. Youtube is working on its live streaming technology. This is not an impossible challenge: and others are doing it, and QIK lets you video live stream from a cell phone (only Blackberry so far I think). Robin Good recently reached one million views on his Qik show.

To my opinion, the Flip brand and technology is becoming a rising rival to the iTouch. The two are not comparable as of today, but the new Flip products roll out faster than we have time to buy it. I have this ongoing discussion with a fellow Twitterer who’s bummed because he cannot find a buyer for the Mino he bought a month ago, despite a nice discount (he bought it like 2 weeks before the HD came out). Is this just craziness? Do you think that video platforms should start focusing on creating revenue channels by selling video recording devices, instead of selling bad ads on our personal videos? It would make so much more sense to me.

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