Is Youtube Better Than it Was Four Years Ago?

Youtube has certainly changed a lot since its launch in 2005, and even since it first added HD support in 2009. Given this shift, I decided to ask the classic question asked in every reelection campaign – “Is Youtube better for Users than it was four years ago?”. A variety of people have weighed in, and the results may surprise you. Let me know what you think, by leaving a comment.


Before we get to what everybody thought, let’s take a look at the timeline of advancements.

  • February 2005 – Youtube Domain is Registered
  • April 23, 2005 – Youtube’s first video arrives.
  • June 2005 – The First Great Advancement – Youtube enables embedding of videos on websites around the globe
  • 2006 – Amidst copyright issues, Youtube launches a variety of filtering tools
  • August 2006 – Youtube launches their first advertising
  • October 2006 – After rapid growth, Youtube is acquired
  • June 2007 – Youtube Goes Mobile
  • December 2007 – Partner program launches, allowing successful Youtubers to go pro
  • June 2008 – Youtube Annotations Launch. ¬†More ad formats soon launch.
  • December 2008 – Youtube first allows HD videos (720p)
  • November 2009 1080p Full HD launches on Youtube
  • 2010 – Youtube unveils Live Streaming
  • March 31 2010 – Youtube relaunches with a whole new design
  • November 2011 – Google First Integrates Google+ social network and Youtube
  • December 2011 – Youtube launches all new homepage design
  • May 2013 – Youtube allows certain channels to charge for access
  • Spring 2013 – Youtube launches new design with controversially convoluted design
  • August 2013 – Youtube adds full Google + intergration, and opens up streaming to channels with 100 or more subscribers.

Is Youtube Better Off?

We interviewed a variety of notable Youtubers, and the general consensus was that Youtube was ultimately better off, despite some lapses and issues. Chris Pirillo, whose channel (Lockergnome) has 300,000 subscribers and 171 million views, noted “Some services need to evolve”, noting the issues that stagnation can cause. In fact, stubbornness in the face of change is exactly what killed Myspace, Yahoo, and many other Web 1.0 companies.

Despite all of the changes, one respondent to our calls for opinions, Russ Fegles, noted “Youtube is still about videos, and nothing will ever change that. The content is still amazing”. Zach Bornheimer, another respondent, noted that in his opinion, “it really does get better with every update”.

As for those who make their living off of Youtube, the consensus is clear. Marques Brownlee, founder of the popular channel MKBHD which has 428,000 subscribers and nearly 32 million views as of this report, had only this to say : “I’d say YouTube is significantly better than when it started”.

My Personal Take

I’d have to agree with many of the opinions expressed, in that things certainly seem to be better than they were a few years ago, but after looking at the timeline of video virility, I noticed a significant dropoff in surprise hits (like Gangnam Style and Friday) after the latest redesign. The latest redesign crowded the site, destroying user experience, and pushing social activity offsite, to sites like Facebook and Reddit. Technologically, Youtube is better than ever, yet Youtube has been morphed from a discovery site and social network, into an area for consumption. People go to specific channels, or looking for specific things, instead of traditional browsing. To me, Youtube has just lost something.

What Do You Think? Leave a Comment

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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