Monday, November 13, 2006

Okay, so I know I've been a little heavy on the boosterism lately, but come on, can you blame me? We've really been rocking it recently. We have the pictures and video to prove it. (That's me in the hat)

Here's another example. This blog was noticeably silent on GooTube. But that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about it. I was thinking about it a lot, like starting to lose sleep over it. I hadn't written my thoughts here because that would reveal key strategic concerns for my companies. But here a month later, I am able to share them with you? Yep, because the team in Seattle has already acted on them. How cool is that?!

It's not worth me getting into a general discussion of GooTube: I largely agree with Mark Cuban's (emerging) take on the deal, so rather I'll link to him for general analysis. Instead let me share with you an excerpt from an internal email on the subject I sent on October 19.

I think it's pretty clear that the recent GooTube deals with the record labels significantly changes the landscape for the music industry for the immediate future. They essentially did something I'd been suggesting would be the best strategy for someone trying to compete with Apple: get the freedom to remove DRM by prebuying music just like a physical distributor. (Quick note on why this makes the difference: it shifts the risk to the retailer and gives them pricing freedom)

Today's post by Mark Cuban made me realize that GooTube has essentially done this *and* chosen to make the marginal cost to consumers zero (vs $2 on iTunes). Wow!

What this means is that for the time being (the term of their deals with the labels) we have a grand playground for experimenting with a world in which music content (videos at least) is "free".

My recommendation is immediately expand the "free download" functionality on iLike to encompass mainstream music by:

A) adding support for YouTube music videos to pages

B) adding a "convert for iPod" function to the sidebar or icast (assuming there is manageable copyright liability).

I think the YouTube support on gives us a leg up on MySpace and from his post I infer Mark thinks the iPod function one ups Apple
Two weeks later on November 2, I get word from Hadi that's he's figured out how to accomplish suggestion A. You should really read the post Steve made on the team blog for the whole story, but lets excerpt a bit of it here:

It started on Thursday. After scooting into work I walked upstairs to the office. I was preparing myself for the day, planning to fix a few bugs and get ready for a new feature Josh and I were about to start working on. As soon as I walked into the room I knew something was up. I got that 6th sense feeling of a new idea about to hatch. Sure enough, I saw Hadi waving his hands over in Josh and Gabe's corner of the room going on about something (our "office" is an open floorplan that is just barely, but not quite, big enough for all of us).

"Not just music clips", Hadi was explaining, "but music videos!". I got his drift, and sat down to mock something up. It should be noted that Josh and Nat had been talking about something similar months back, but neither of them were *this* enthusiastic about it. In his typical eager fashion Hadi had mentioned it was only a "3-hour project", so the challenge was on!

They shipped it on November 7.

Let me pause to bring special attention to something in Steve's post. My story starts from an email I sent in October, but "Josh and Nat had been talking about something similar a month back". To clarify, I do not claim that we are the originators of this idea (and also that I was not the first person in the company to suggest it). I know of three sites that already did something similar:,, To wit: the idea isn't that remarkable.

What is remarkable is our timing and execution. This idea had been out there for months, at least. Then GooTube happened. We quickly analyzed the strategic implications and identified the resulting opportunity, had the technical intuition to anticipate a user need, and shipped the feature in less than one month after the precipitating event. No less than 5 people were invloved in the chain each one adding tremendous value.

Yes, existing users love the new feature. Yes, we saw a spike in traffic. Yes, other companies are left scratching their heads. We're on a roll and I'm loving the ride. So please indulge me for a moment while I bask in the warmth of a more flattering followup article in Techcrunch that anticipates my suggestion B. I've already added a wireless video iPod to my Chirstmas list so I can enjoy all the videos of my favorite songs automatically found and loaded.

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