Ooyala. Video Killer or just the worst name in web history?

September 10, 2008

Ooyala. Not the first time we’ve seen a new technology stamped with “built by ex-Google people”, (recently Cuil) but hey we’ll look at anything new when it comes to online video. OK let’s start with the worst bit: What’s with that name? Did they not teach URL strategy at Google? I’ve already forgotten it three times and keep having to look at the top of the page to remind myself. Say it with me… OO YAAAA LA or something like that. Spelling it after a couple of hours at the pub could be very tricky.

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Is an adaptive bitrate the golden bullet?

Rant over, is it any good? Now there’s a stack of features on Oothingy’s site to benefit businesses and advertisers. It works with multiple serving platforms and has great analytics. Yes, that will keep a few people pretty happy as we all like more numbers to crunch, but in the recommendation age, the consumer holds a lot more power over the growth of technology platforms.

Let’s face it… every single successful web empire (eg: Facebook, Google, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr) made it there by putting the consumer first. Yes I get that this is more of a B2B offering, but remember that YouTube really killed it by allowing some groundbreaking comsumer features such as easy affiliation which made it the defacto video player for millions. Does Oojimaflip have anything that will significantly benefit the end user or content creator? OK, yes, there is one thing I did really like: the benefit of adaptive bitrate (meaning the video will fine tune itself to the users internet connection) but this is not something average users will notice if they already have a decent connection. The watermarking feature is handy for those wanting to stop their vids being shamelessly ripped. Bottom line, OOjamadoodah’s video player, appears to be a more bandwidth efficient video player with a rather nice analytics engine, but lacking in advanced social media capabilities. Let’s hope they’ll come up with some more front end features soon because the market is probably ready for someone to take the video player experience to another level.

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“Help – can someone read what the banner says underneath us? We keep forgetting our own name.”

Ooyala means cradle in Telugu, a Southern Indian language. We like the name because it demonstrates what we are doing — cradling a new form of innovation.


Cuil – a Google Beater? In review:

July 29, 2008

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It’s one of those head turning stories : A bunch of ex-Google employees run off and make their own search engine ready to beat Google at their own game. A tough gig by all accounts. The key differentiator – they don’t hold any of your information. The pitch being that Google is holding too much of your personal data – they don’t and won’t. They claim to have indexed more web pages than Google and a technical setup to rival the giants. 

One important factor may be the URL. It’s two letters shorter (this is a good move) but I suspect that by trying to be ‘cool’ with the literal name Cuil the brand is a little to broad to become the vernacular for Search. “I’m going to Cuil for that” just doesn’t do the same job as “I’ll Google that” – as is the case with “Live Search” which is simply too generic for consumers to adopt as a verb. I suspect a brand name that could replace the Google “verb” may have been a better brand strategy.

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OK, into the product itself – Now first impression counts, and the screen shown here is not a good start. We all encountered different errors at different times. OK these are likely just teething issues but probably not the best start. Google’s consistency has been one of it’s strongest assets – it rarely lets users down even though both Yahoo and Live Search both offer some pretty good features.

Now I did find some strange things happening with the indexing. Typing Wii shows a very strange result as did a fair few other queries I tried. We’ve asked them to look into an issue on one of our sites so it will be interesting to hear what they come back with.

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Bugs aside, there are a couple of nice features with Cuil like the widget below which breaks down categories.

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Cuil also lets you choose between 2 or 3 column layout. Nice to see something different but to be honest I would have preferred to see the additional option of the ‘infinite scrolling page’ here as Live Search offers with it’s image searching – something it does beat Google on in my opinion.

Of course the underlying need to sell advertising impressions becomes an issue with these interfaces because page refreshing = more ads served.

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Is three better than one?

So we’ll keep an eye on Cuil ongoing. All new things are good in  the digital landscape so I think this is a welcome addition to the search wars. Will I use it as my default engine? No, but I’ll keep experimenting and time will tell.