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Google and Facebook Make Their Moves, for Better and Worse


It's hard to believe that the same company that's behind YouTube Premium also green-lighted Google Glass.

All Web companies should act like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). That is, every time they implement a really good idea they should simultaneously let loose with a real stinker. This keeps investors and the general public amused, or bemused. It also provides a steady stream of business school case studies that may edify future generations of entrepreneurs.

Witness these recent examples of decision-making, good and bad, from each company.

The YouTube Premium Option

YouTube reportedly is about to announce its introduction of premium pay channels in special interest areas, like children's programming, music, comedy, and more. Subscription pricing is expected to start as low as $1.99 per month.

YouTube fans still will be able to upload or download as many crazy cat videos as they want for free. But programmers will have the option of moving behind the pay wall, and offering their content without advertising.

This is such a great idea that it's amazing YouTube owner Google didn't think of it earlier-like a couple of years ago, when original Web programming initiatives first got to be a hot topic.

As an alternative to advertising support, which so far has proved to be meager, the new revenue option could unleash a wave of creativity and higher production values that will benefit its producers as well as Google. If it succeeds, we may soon see young producers abandoning cable television for the relative freedom of the Internet.

This assumes that YouTube will keep its executive decision-making to a minimum, as it always has on the advertiser-supported site. The pay options are expected to be video-on-demand databases rather than programmed "channels" in any conventional sense.

On the downside for consumers, a ton of "free" content will inevitably move behind the pay wall. But given the current low level of advertising revenue for video, that content will inevitably move behind somebody's pay wall, and soon.

YouTube dominates the market for advertising attached to digital video. But even if that spending climbs to the record $4.14 billion expected this year, digital video will still carry only 2.4% of advertiser dollars, according to CNN.

Google Glass: A Fashion Faux Pas?

If the Google Glass experiment goes down in history as a misstep, the pivotal date of its demise will be recorded as May 4, 2013. That's when Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen appeared on the Weekend Update segment looking like a dork.

His performance as a twitching, muttering, eyeball-rolling geek wrapped up in his goofy headgear may put an end to anyone's idea that Google Glass is socially acceptable, much less cool.
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