Microsoft has decided to jump into the world of video sharing and try to take on the long-time leader, YouTube. Their new service, Soapbox, debuted this Tuesday in an invitation-only beta form. According to CNET:
“… Soapbox is a solid video sharing service, incorporating all the Web 2.0 features a modern site should have. You can tag videos and comment on them, and you can easily find videos based on tags or popularity. You can also browse the video catalog without stopping the video you’re watching, which is a nice user interface development.”
CNET also has two screenshots of the user interface here.
Contrary to what you might expect, Microsoft already has a strong presence in the video search market. Hitwise reports a market share of 9.21% in May 2006.
So has Microsoft created a YouTube killer? It is too early in the game for a definitive answer. Similar to Google in the search market, YouTube has a reputation for having everything you are looking for. It’s not likely that Soapbox will be able to create such an identity. The tools offered are solid, but Microsoft Soapbox doesn’t seem to offer anything other services don’t already have.
Ask.com had to learn the hard way that their site preview button isn’t enough to make people abandon Google. If Microsoft expects people to switch to Soapbox just because you can browse the video catalog without stopping the video, they are heading for a big disappointment.