Microsoft is evaluating where Soapbox, its online video answer to YouTube, currently stands with regard to its MSN brand. Reports suggest that Soapbox could be cut back, making it the latest Microsoft application, after Money and Encarta, to be reduced or axed entirely.
is mulling the fate of Soapbox, the user-generated video Website it launched via
its MSN portal in December 2006 to compete
with YouTube and similar online offerings.
Microsoft issued a statement to eWEEK through a spokesperson on June 17
stating that Microsoft was "currently evaluating what the Soapbox brand
means to MSN and how it relates to our
The statement added, "Online video is a key part of the MSN
experience. ... We remain committed to delivering amazing experiences for
consumers while at the same time keeping a keen eye on our business objectives
during this tough economic climate."
A June 16 story on Cnet,
however, made it seem more of a foregone
conclusion that Soapbox's role in Microsoft's online strategy would be severely
reduced. In an interview with the site, Microsoft Vice President Erik Jorgensen
repeatedly said the company planned to scale back the offering in the face of
severe economic headwinds.
Spokespeople for Microsoft could not confirm those comments.
In a report by the research company ComScore, Microsoft
had 2 percent of the online video market in March,
putting it in fifth
place behind Yahoo, Hulu, Fox Interactive Media and Google, which had a 40.9
percent market share thanks primarily to YouTube. Overall, Americans watched
14.5 billion online videos in March, an increase of 11 percent over February,
with an average total viewing time of 5.5 hours and 97 videos.
Given the recession and the ever-changing nature of IT, Microsoft has been
slicing a handful of other applications from its lineup in recent months. On
June 11, the company announced that it would stop
offering Microsoft Money Plus,
the personal finance software it first
rolled out 17 years ago.
"With banks, brokerage firms and Websites now providing a range of
options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money
Plus has changed," the company said in a statement at the time, adding
elsewhere on its Money Plus site: "Demand for a comprehensive personal
finance tool set has declined."
However, Microsoft plans to continue to support online services for active
Money customers through "at least" January 2011.
In March, Microsoft
also shut down Encarta,
its encyclopedia software first started 16 years
ago, in light of competition from free and constantly updated sites such as
Wikipedia. Encarta Premium 2009, the application's swan song, contained over
62,000 detailed articles and retailed for $29.95.