Opinion: Google may have crossed the threshold of having more money than brains.
Googles acquisition of YouTube gives me new respect for the notion of infinity. It proves that no matter how smart you are, you can still have more money than brains.
If you were trying to find a way to collect the attention of the worlds least discriminating media consumerspeople who demonstrate 100 million times a day that they have more excess time than moneyyoud build YouTube.
We already had blogs to demonstrate that most people dont communicate effectively with words; now we have YouTube to demonstrate that its even more difficult to compose good cinema, although you can always just steal it.
YouTube is perfectly designed to skim the crud off the bottom of the audience barrel. Even the busiest person will glance at a blog to see if it has anything to offer: You can tell in a few seconds that a blog post is not going to tell you anything new in any interesting way, and get back to work.
A three-minute video, though, takes the full three minutes to watchand you probably wont be able to tear yourself away.
This means that the people whose attention you want most are probably going to train themselves to avoid your site, because they dont have time to spare.
Meanwhile, those who do come to a video site arent looking at the ads that sit next to the moving pictures, because the human brain is hard-wired to look at stuff thats moving. And even if something does insert itself right into that moving picture, the brain is amazingly good at ignoring things that arent part of what its finding interesting at the time.
Yes, YouTube is a brand, and brands have value. Brand-name recognition is among the few assets that a new competitor cant readily match in todays environment of mobile capital and globally networked talent.
Trademark value resonates in uncountable pop culture references to iconic brands, as when Paul Simon sings "I got a Nikon camera " or when Toyota coins a new slogan ("I want my MPG") that is itself a pun on the tagline of MTV.
But brand names can also be remembered as epitaphs: How many people associate the phrase "The Edsel of " with failure even if theyd never recognize a picture of the car that bore that name?Google and YouTube: 10 Questions Left Unanswered. Click here to read more.
Does anyoneanyone at allactually want to defend the proposition that the YouTube brand is fairly valued at $1.6 billion? Reality check: Even world famous brands like Levis and Starbucks, with real products and actual profits, are each worth less than twice that much.
Im open to the possibility that Web-based innovations can transform our ideas of how things should be done.
Amazon.com has turned its bookselling experience into a mastery of online storefront hosting that has liberated market efficiencies in many other domains.
The eBay auction and consignment models have scaled way up from selling Pez dispensers to collectors. I think I know value when I see it.
As of now, though, Im finding YouTubes value picture far from clear.
Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.