There’s now more than 100 video sharing websites, including the ubiquitous YouTube.
The popular format for presenting videos these days is Flash video. It’s fast, it requires no installation for most people, and it allows site owners to build their own control interfaces (play, rewind etc) easily.
But a common complaint levelled at current video sites is one of poor picture quality. Although the video quality actually has nothing to do with Flash itself (if you don’t believe me check out this demo), at least one company believes the answer to poor picture quality is… another video format.
Now normally this is about as far as I would get with this story, but the protagonist in this thriller is someone pretty special.
Enter DivX, the video compression format widely used for file sharing on Bittorrent. The eponymous San Diego based company is clearly feeling the heat a little bit with the success of browser-based video, and wants to do something about it.
They have decided quite astutely to launch their own video sharing site, making use of the DivX system. The proposition is an interesting one simply because of who they are. DivX is legendary, so much so, that more than 1250 consumer DVD players have the ability to play back DivX video.
Trying out the new service, which requires installing a free browser plug in, results in admittedly very high quality video, and there are a growing number of high quality clips available, including the infamous Dancing around the World video, brought up to date for 2006.
It will remain to be seen how successful this endeavour is, and I would certainly not dismiss their chances out of hand. DivX has a very good image among savvy Internet users, and the ability to download clips and play them on a DVD player is a definite plus. But I can’t help but think that Jo Internet user does not want to install any more plugins, and will simply revert to YouTube as soon as they get that ‘click here to download plugin’ message.
Industry people have a tendency to overestimate people’s strength of feelings about high technical quality – look at the continued abundance of AM radio for instance. But if DivX can attract enough exclusive content and traction, they may just pull it off.
Bear in mind that every video sharing site using Flash, including YouTube, can up the quality level at any time, if only they can sort out their bandwidth headaches…
While on the subject, and in the interest of completeness, two other sites going after the high quality video market are the just-now-launching Dovetail.tv, and the excellently named Instant Media.