blinkx tailors video search service for Western Europe
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - San Francisco-based online video search service blinkx added French, German and Spanish content to its massive index on Monday to win viewers in Western Europe and wrest the spotlight from YouTube.
Blinkx founder and chief executive Suranga Chandratillake described the move as a step in the global expansion of the world’s largest video search engine and part of natural Internet evolution that could turn YouTube into an outdated trail blazer.
“YouTube, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, is a bit like the AOL (America Online) of the video web,” Chandratillake said while discussing the Europe expansion with reporters.
AOL is a pioneering Internet service that dominated the US market during the 1990s, opening up online exploration to people without extensive computer skills.
But it lost its market power as independent service providers and the expansion of the world wide web left its for-pay portal redundant to free websites like search king Google, Yahoo and MSN.
There is easily room for a half dozen contenders capable of being a next YouTube, according to Chandratillake.
Online video viewing increased approximately 80 percent between September of last year and April of this year, according to industry statistics.
“AOL did a lot of very important things; most important of which is that it made Internet accessible to the masses,” Chandratillake said.
“In that sense, YouTube spotted a demographic and a content type that would work in today’s marketplace and went for it. But, user-generated content shared by college students is not the only kind of video we are all going to be watching, there is a lot more to it.”
Blinkx will introduce its own version of broadband Internet television, called “bbtv,” in coming weeks.
The company is banking on technology that enables its computers to view videos in real time and match overlay ads to what is happening onscreen at any given moment.
The technology enables computers to pinpoint people’s searches to scenes and dialogue in video.
“Our background is technology, much more so than many of the other video sites,” Chandratillake said.
“YouTube is not really a technology company; it is more of a media and culture company. They are more formidable in a sense now because they are part of what started out as a technology company but what is now an advertising company.”
He was referring to Google, which bought YouTube last year in a 1.65 billion dollar stock deal, aiming at making money out of its advertising potential.
Blinkx has deals with more than 200 media companies to distribute copyrighted content and boasts an index of more than 14 million hours of video and audio.
The San Francisco startup went public this year on London’s AIM and is to release its first quarterly earnings report October 25. Money raised in the stock sale is funding blinkx’s expansion in Europe.
“Old Europe turns out to be a very wired place with a very wired user base interested in online video right now,” said Chandratillake.
“What we hope to show is it is not just about English content, but they can find their own shows in their own language.”
Blinkx has more than a million hours of video content in languages other than English with European sources including Eurosport and Euronews, TF1, Elmundo, Le Monde and Spiegel TV.
“There is a massively growing video audience outside the English-speaking parlor that is the US and UK.”
The company does have more rivals than YouTube, however. Paris-based Daily Motion has enormous popularity in France, while US-based Brightcove is considered a rising star in the universe of online video viewing.
And Joost, pronounced “juiced,” and created by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, opened its television-style Internet video viewing platform to the public last week as part of its test phase.