Having essentially created mainstream online community and communication back in the early 90′s AOL is finally and wisely exploiting the leverage of its immensely popular AIM service to compete against MySpace and YouTube (the subject of this posting) in their respective areas.
AOL’s foray in community video hosting is called UnCut Video and there is much to like and dislike about it. To be fair it is in beta (and real beta not the fake never-ending Google beta) though if it was me I would have termed it “pre-beta” or “alpha.” Users of today’s web have become used to the “beta” term meaning “we’re still flushing out the business model but the functionality works pretty well” and not “good luck getting this thing to work.”
1. Nice clean interface and straight forward log-in.
2. Easy uploading but it requires an executable (see cons).
3. Easy log-in (and possibly unnecessary registration). If you are one of the 30 million or so people with an AIM account you can immediately log-in to UnCut Video as well using your AIM account. One less confirmation email and one less log-in to remember.
4. Flash videos–which everyone (including YouTube) agrees is the right choice.
5. AIM integration. While I did not try it, AIM is integrated directly into UnCut so if you can easily start a real-time dialog with the person who just uploaded a clip of their kid falling down in the snow.
1. Very, very buggy.
When they say ‘beta’ they mean it. It is buggy. Lot’s of page errors, no search and you can post a video, watch it, and then not be able to find it again. I posted 2 videos but when I went to the MyVideo, they were nowhere to be found. I know that the second video is up but at least as of this writing it’s not showing up in MyVideo. There were even screen formatting issues but I didn’t see anything about a particular browser being required (I was using the latest
“We’re sorry! We are temporarily experiencing difficulty delivering this page”
2. Dowload of executable required.
Requires you to download the VideoEgg Publisher–a step not required by YouTube. The upside of downloading this small executable however is that you get ‘drag & drop’ functionality to the uploading process. (I also understand that VideoEgg technology may be driving much of UnCut).
The video uploading is really very easy and you can immediately watch it (notwithstanding you can immediately lose it as well but this is a bug AOL is sure to quickly fix).
Hard to tell how much of this is because of the beta but finding videos is very hard. You can sort by overly broad categories (something I would imagine that hardly anyone ever uses on YouTube). Incredibly and unlike YouTube there are no tags (and of course no tag cloud).
4. Overly onorus content release:
First, as a point of comparison, this the YouTube content release:
Do not upload copyrighted material for which you don’t own the rights or have permission from the owner.
By contrast AOL’s release is several paragraphs that covers the expected copyright language (no surprise given the fact that AOL is part of major media company Time Warner) but also includes in the fine print a rather aggressive grant of rights to AOL from the uploader. Including:
By submitting a video through this feature (the “Content”), you hereby grant AOL LLC, its affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, licensees and legal representatives (“AOL”) the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to use, reproduce, edit, market, store, distribute, have distributed, publicly and privately display, communicate, publicly and privately perform, transmit, have transmitted, create derivative works based upon and promote the Content (as such may be edited and modified by AOL in its discretion), or any portion thereof, through the AOL brand service and any other other products or services as AOL may designate, and any other web sites not designated by AOL, in any medium now known or hereafter devised, online or offline and by any means of delivery, for editorial, commercial, promotional and all other purposes. You acknowledge and agree that the Content may be shown on any web site, whether within or outside the AOL service. AOL is not obligated to include the Content in this or any program, and AOL reserves the right to remove the Content for any reason at its sole discretion. In addition, AOL cannot guarantee that technical difficulties will not occur during the upload of the Content or that the Content will upload successfully.
While you retain ownership of all right, title, and interest in the Content itself, you agree that AOL owns all right, title, and interest in any compilation, collective work, or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating the Content. You represent and warrant that (i) the Content does not and shall not infringe on any copyright or any other third-party right nor violate any applicable law or regulation, (ii) you have the right to grant any and all necessary rights and licenses provided herein, including, without limitation, all necessary copyright and other related rights to the Content, free and clear of all claims and encumbrances without violating the rights of any person or entity, including any right to privacy or publicity.
AOL also has this indemnity clause:
You hereby hold AOL harmless from and against any third-party claim arising from use of the Content. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses. You hereby represent and warrant that you are at least 18 years of age and that you have read this release and are fully familiar with its contents.
What others are saying:
Mashable: AOL is in a great position to capitalize on the AIM brand with web-based social software, but its latest ventures still have a long way to go.
TechCrunch: The only significant difference between AOL Uncut and YouTube is that YouTube supports tagging, whereas UnCut doesn’t.
UPDATE: They’ve killed it!