Monday, December 22, 2008

YouTube lets you turn videos into greeting cards

For the second year, YouTube on Friday unveiled a holiday feature that lets users create hosted video cards to send to friends and family. Users can select this option from any YouTube video, or from a special page that houses selected community videos and links to a user's own clips.

There's also an option to make a more personalized greeting straight from a connected Webcam. For now, only one video can be attached to a given greeting card.

When users are finished picking a video for use in a greeting card, they can choose from a handful of themes that house the video player, then add up to 230 characters of text and send the complete card to up to 25 e-mail recipients.

According to YouTube's company blog, more than a million of these greetings were sent out last year, before the feature disappeared in January.

Turn any YouTube video into a greeting card for the holidays.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Yahoo puts meat on Open Strategy bones

SAN FRANCISCO--After months of preamble, Yahoo on Monday flipped the on switch for a massive project to increase activity--and advertising--on its Internet sites through social connections and online applications.

The company has been working mostly behind the scenes to build what it calls the Yahoo Open Strategy, but now the strategy's changes will become evident to U.S. users of some of Yahoo's main properties such as Yahoo Mail, My Yahoo, and Yahoo's music and TV sites. In addition, the company will begin previewing a new Yahoo Toolbar later this week.

John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail

John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail

(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET News)

"We wanted to establish a social dimension," Ash Patel, executive vice president of Yahoo's audience products division, said of the Yahoo Open Strategy goals. And to attract programmers who can build applications on Yahoo properties, "We wanted to engage with the developer community and to open up the power of Yahoo's products and platforms."

Yahoo Mail, which according to ComScore has about 275 million active users each month, gets some significant changes, with more to come. First is a new welcome page that now spotlights messages from people in a person's Yahoo social network and invitations from others to join their networks. And the in-box page now includes a new "from connections" button that shows e-mail only from those social connections.

Second is the arrival of online applications tied to Yahoo Mail. One inaugural program from Xoopit lets you view all the photos in your e-mail archive, even expanding links to online galleries. Another lets you convert an e-mail message into a WordPress blog post in two clicks.

"The opening of the mail platform is a huge benefit to users in terms of the additional forms of sharing and communication we can build in and to the developers who can build applications," said John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail, speaking to reporters at a launch event here.

More mail changes are coming, he said. Among them will be birthday reminders and the ability to exchange large files, Kremer said.

The new mail abilities require a the cooperation of Yahoo users' contacts: they must agree to be listed as your contact before they can become a part of Yahoo social activities. That's because of privacy considerations, Kremer said. For example, the right-hand side of the new Yahoo Mail welcome page also shows contacts' activity such as photos posted, movies recommended, or applications added, and that's information those people might not want to share with just anyone.

Yahoo Mail's new welcome page spotlights activity from a person's social connections.

Yahoo Mail's new welcome page spotlights activity from a person's social connections. (Click to enlarge.)

(Credit: Yahoo)

Leapfrogging the Joneses
It's not all fun and games. Building use of Yahoo into members' social lives and letting them use applications housed on Yahoo sites means more advertising for Yahoo. That was important earlier this year when the company was stagnating financially, but it's even more important now that the recession has put extreme pressure on the ad market. And Patel believes the ads that can be delivered with the social context--for example clicking on the Yahoo Music page for an album a friend just rated highly--will provide valuable context for advertisers.

"Targeted (ad) inventory sells better than untargeted inventory," Patel said.

The Yahoo Open Strategy theoretically could help Yahoo not just keep up with the Joneses, but leapfrog them. Although Yahoo capitalized on the first generation of online social activity, e-mail and instant messaging, it lagged rivals such as Facebook when it comes to letting people build online communities of friends and business contacts. Yahoo's new strategy, though, is tuned to its own assets.

Google has got a powerful search engine, but its online community is nascent compared to Yahoo's. Facebook and MySpace have got social ties, but not Yahoo's breadth of finance, sports, entertainment, news, and communications. Yahoo Open Strategy is a recipe not easily reproduced in full by Yahoo competitors.

The hard part will be bringing the transformation to fruition fast enough.

For the Yahoo Open Strategy to pay off, the company must encourage its members to register new profiles and to link their friends into their social network. And it will have to coax a lot of programmers to build good applications then coax Yahoo members to activate them. All this takes time, and Yahoo, with Microsoft and Google breathing down its neck, doesn't have the luxury of time.

Getting people to sign up for yet another social service--Yahoo strenuously objects to calling its work just another social network--is another hurdle.

"There is going to be some fatigue on that process," Kremer said of people getting inundated with a new round of online service invitations. "It may slow down the virality of what we're doing."

But the company believes it will spread because people will find it useful. And unlike some services, Yahoo hopes people only set up their service with a small number of important contacts rather than compete for the biggest networks.

"I don't want my users to sign up for 500 connections," Kremer said. "I want this to be for the tight inner circle--those five or ten or fifteen people they scan for" when checking their in-box.

Yahoo Mail is getting a Flickr application that lets people upload photos from the e-mail application.

Yahoo Mail is getting a Flickr application that lets people upload photos from the e-mail application. (Click to enlarge.)

(Credit: Yahoo)
Source : CNet News

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scrabulous scrapped from Facebook

The long awaited decision on the fight between Facebook and the makers of the game - Scrabble has come to an end finally with the later emerging as the winners.

The legal proceedings against the app had started in January when Mattel (the makers of the game) decided that Scrabulous was infringing on copyright and trademarks.

The makers of the game are Rjat and Jayant Agarwalla based in India and if you are in India you can still play the game as the Indian courts are still deciding on this issue.

We will keep you informed on the Indian court rulings, but for the moment it looks very much like the end of Scrabulous. BDV-234049-BDV

iPod dying? It's already dead

There has been much blogorrhea on Tuesday over Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's offhand comment to the Telegraph that the iPod would go the way of the transistor radio and the Sony Walkman, becoming a cheap and eventually boring commodity product.

iPod? Isn't that the music application for the iPhone?

News flash: it's already there. Sure, Apple will still sell millions of units every quarter, and it might even continue to grow unit sales and revenue for a while. But it's clear from Apple's most recent announcements that the company no longer views the iPod as its main vehicle for innovation--new (old) form factors, colors, and one interesting update are the kind of incremental tweaks you make to a cash cow product line, not the groundbreaking innovations that move markets forward.

Apple passed its mantle of innovation to the first iPhone a year ago, and that's where the action's going to be, from now on--multifunction devices with interesting new interfaces (touch is just the beginning) that act more like tiny computers than single-purpose devices. iPod? That's just another application icon on the iPhone deck.

(And here's something you'll never hear in a presidential debate: I was wrong. Specifically, I was wrong when I suggested that consumers would continue to favor single-function devices and that the iPhone's bet on convergence would sink it. I underestimated the power of the touch screen and Apple's relentless focus on ease of use, which have made the iPhone the first ultraportable computer for mere mortals.)

I appreciate Microsoft's latest Zune innovations, but they needed to be in the product when it launched two years ago. MP3 players are becoming a commodity in which low price overrides new features--especially given how tight consumer spending is likely to be this holiday season. Microsoft isn't into commodities, unless it's got dominant market share, so look for the company to turn its attention to building a more competitive version of Windows Mobile. Zune will live on--as the music playback application for Microsoft's mobile phones.

Source :Cnet News

The tech downturn: How long and how bad?

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway sent a sobering e-mail Tuesday to the 130 start-up companies he's invested in: now is the time to hunker down.

Ron Conway
Credit: Joi Ito
"You better rely
on your own
proactive action."
-Ron Conway

"In 2000 and 2001, the companies that hunkered the fastest were the companies that survived," said Conway in an interview with CNET News. "Get costs under control; make sure you have plenty of runway."

While that admonition from Conway, a noted investor who over the years has put early money into tech giants like Google and up-and-comers like Digg, was timely, it's hard to imagine that any tech executive who's been paying attention to the news needs to be reminded that rough economic conditions are most definitely ahead.

How bad those conditions will be and how long they'll last is anyone's guess. The CNET Technology Index, which tracks 66 publicly traded tech companies, dropped for the third straight day Wednesday to hit its lowest level in more than three years. Even the healthiest of companies are seeing their stocks being sold en masse. Google, for example, finished trading Wednesday down 2.28 percent to $338.11 per share; that's a new 52-week low and less than half the asking price for a Google share in November 2007

Bad news persists in the overall economy as well, despite continued attempts at government intervention. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 indexes all continued to slide Wednesday; the Dow has now dropped 35 percent from its high a year ago.

CNET contacted more than 20 tech executives, venture capitalists, and industry gurus Wednesday to ask "How long and how bad this will be for the tech industry, and what should companies do about it?" Not so surprisingly, there was no consensus. While nearly everyone interviewed is concerned about the economy, their reaction to it and their plans to deal with it are across the map. Experienced investors like Conway and venture capitalist Larry Augustin of Azure Capital Partners are cautious, while some executives (at least in their public comments) are downplaying the risks to their businesses.

Tech stocks
Credit: Susan Dove/CNET News

"We think there will be some impact on our business," Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said during an event to launch the company's new 4G wireless broadband network in Baltimore on Wednesday. "But compared to most other industries, we are relatively well insulated."

Geoffrey Moore
"This is categorically
different from prior
downturns... There
is no place to flee."
-Geoffrey Moore

So who's right? Enterprise software maker SAP, which is particularly vulnerable to end-of-quarter deal cancellations, has already run into trouble, as have other notables such as Sun Microsystems and Netflix.

But it's not yet clear what will happen to consumer sales and online advertising. The monthly CNET-Consumer Electronics Association consumer confidence index showed surprising bullishness in late September. Internet Advertising Bureau statistics for the first half of the year showed surprising strength, but the IAB data did little to shed light on what will happen in the fourth quarter.

This should give people in tech reason to pause: the normally upbeat Geoffrey Moore, author of popular tech industry books such as Crossing the Chasm, worries it could take years to restore some sense of "equilibrium" to the economy. That's bad news for the tech industry.

"This is categorically different from prior downturns because the industry going into the tank supplies a fundamental staple to all other industries. There is no place to flee. It is not about tech at all," Moore said. "Established franchises with strong cash flow have a huge competitive advantage in downturns. But even these folks better plan for a major overhaul before we reach the other side of this chasm."

The money men
Nonetheless, where there's chaos, there's also opportunity. Azure Capital's Augustin expects a faster pace of acquisitions because start-ups right now don't have initial public offerings, or IPOs, as an exit strategy, and smaller companies may not have enough cash on their balance sheets to weather the storm.

Larry Augustin
"I think there
probably are some
bargains to be had
here."
-Larry Augustin

"I think there probably are some bargains to be had here," Augustin said. Having an IPO option can help increase start-ups' valuation, and without that option, acquisition price tags will be lower. "If you have a strong balance sheet, maybe you want to spend some there... I think tech companies will be in a good position to leverage this downturn."

The present climate also means venture capital will be harder to find, Augustin said. "Without an IPO market in the venture capital world, you don't have any exits. And if you don't have any exits and you're not returning any capital to people (who've invested), you don't have new capital flowing in. That means the venture financing climate is going to slow down," Augustin said

But the cautious Augustin declined to forecast how long the downturn will last. "It's already deeper than I thought it would be," he said. "I thought maybe two weeks ago we had seen some of the worst and the rescue plans the government had put together would stabilize financial services, and it hasn't."

Ron Conway said he has spent time on the phone with probably six CEOs in the past 24 hours. "They say, 'I'm not as prepared as I should be; walk me through the steps I should be taking,'" Conway said. Conserving cash and cutting costs are a must, he said, because bigger companies aren't acquiring as aggressively as many would hope.

"It would be great if more companies were acquisitive, but a lot of people are frozen in place, so you can't rely on M&A to bail you out," he said. "You better rely on your own proactive action. You should seek M&A, but not count on it."

There is some reason for confidence. So far, when it comes to employment, American business has yet to fall off the cliff, said Stephen Mader, vice chairman and managing director of recruiting giant Korn/Ferry International in Boston. But the health of jobs across the country depends greatly on the ability of the federal government to restore confidence in the short-term credit market, he said.

"All you're hearing today in boardrooms across the country is we just don't know. And when you just don't know, you act cautiously," Mader said. If the situation doesn't improve, he expects businesses to "aggressively" cut payrolls heading into the new year to adjust to the new credit conditions.

The start-ups
Gina Bianchini and Marc Andreessen, the chief executive and chairman of the social networking company Ning, have reason to say "I told you so." Earlier this year, Andreessen (the Netscape co-founder who knows a thing or two about tech booms and busts) predicted the industry could be headed for a "nuclear winter" and needed to prepare for it. Ning landed an additional $60 million in venture funding to wait out whatever bad news should come down the pipe.

Gina Bianchini
Credit: SXSW
"Do I think a
nuclear winter is
going to happen
in the market?
Yes. Do I think
that has a
negative impact
on us today? No."
-Gina Bianchini

Andreessen was jeered by many as a hyperbolic killjoy at the Web 2.0 party. (It didn't help that he repeated the comments on stage at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.) Few should be jeering now. "We're great. That's why we actually went and raised the money that we raised. We are well positioned, and I would say well stocked for the coming months," said Bianchini. "Do I think that (a nuclear winter) is going to happen generally in the market? Yes. Do I think that has a negative impact on us today? No."

Conway likely would say raising that money was a fine idea. "Any company that doesn't have one year of cash burn in the bank could be in trouble," he said.

Other start-up execs, such as Corey Bridges, the co-founder of virtual worlds platform developer Multiverse Network, says the best thing to do is plan conservatively for 2009 and watch your cash--because anyone who has to go to the venture capitalists for money will find the terms have dramatically swung in favor of the money men. Bridges said he could see conditions worsening for the last few months.

"There have been a number of leading economic indicators, for some months, that things were going to get rough," he said. "We do a lot of work with big media companies, and sotto voce, the big media companies have been saying that the 'Big Three' car companies are cutting back on their advertising on TV, and that's going to affect them."

Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of Pure Digital, which makes the Flip Video Camcorder, said his company is approaching the current economic climate with a "cautious but optimistic" business plan, especially in light of the upcoming holidays. He does say it helps that his most popular product is a less expensive alternative compared to the competition.

But the retail outlook this holiday isn't great. "There's no doubt in my mind this will be bad for everyone. It's a consumer-centric decline, and consumer spending is going to change considerably," said Kaplan. "I think Christmas will be hit very hard, and it will be a difficult one for many retail partners and consumers."

Can big companies steer clear of trouble?
SAP's problems are well known by now. But what about other big tech companies? Microsoft executives have so far tried to alleviate panic about the downturn, while at the same time battening down expenses. And though their stocks have been pummeled, there's no indication (yet) of trouble from many of tech's bellwethers, ranging from Hewlett-Packard to Google.

Marc Benioff
"This is an
unprecedented time
in the economy...
Most of the experts
I see talking about
this are at a loss
to make a
meaningful
prediction."
-Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff, CEO of on-demand software company Salesforce.com, would say watching your dollars is a wise idea. In an e-mail exchange, he quickly pointed out that Salesforce finished the second quarter with $823 million in cash--enough to weather the worst of downturns. But even the oft-loquacious Benioff is stopping short of predicting how bad conditions will get for tech.

"This is an uncertain and unprecedented time in the economy," wrote Benioff. "I am not an expert, and most of the experts I see talking about this are at a loss to make a meaningful prediction. So we are focusing on what we good at: making customers succeed."

Clean tech's funding challenge
In the clean-tech arena, investors and entrepreneurs expect the most pain to be felt with firms on the cusp of commercialization, where large amounts of money are needed to build a biofuels or solar manufacturing plant, for example. Many of these expansion projects are typically financed in part with debt. But with the credit crisis, those deals are far more likely to be funded through private equity or project finance, investors said.

"The debt market is in the ER (emergency room) in a terrible way," said Jon Bonanno, president of renewable energy developer Principle Power. "Us, as power plant builders, in the next 24 months, we are doing all equity (financing). If there's a will, there's a way, even in the worst market."

Valuations of clean-tech start-ups trying to raise capital will likely shrink as part of the overall economic downturn. But the level of activity in green tech--an area flush with venture capital--appears to be holding steady, for now at least.

"We're still seeing a lot of companies looking for financing. The deal flow still seems to be active," said John Cote, a vice president at General Electric's financial services arm. "But you have to expect that it's going to slow down."

Some investors speculated that there could be a wave of mergers and acquisitions, as start-ups struggle to find sources for funding.

"Our assumption is that we will probably exit (from start-up investments) through sale to strategic investors," said Steve Goldby from early-stage venture capital firm Venrock. "There is no IPO whatsoever."

Asking the futurist for answers
Again, so who's right? We turned to Silicon Valley technology forecaster Paul Saffo for some answers. In the short term, the economic downturn will make it harder for tech companies to attract private equity and venture financing, as well as the lines of credit that are often needed to pay the bills, Saffo said.

It's too early to tell how bad the financial panic will be and how long it will last, but the economic meltdown signals a shift to a new type of economic model in which tech companies are well positioned to thrive, he said. It just may take some time to get there.

Source : Cnet News

Microsoft unveils new Xbox Live 'experience'

In the new Xbox Live experience, much of the interface is designed to cascade horizontally across the screen, allowing users to see a wide selection of choices. On HD TVs, users will be able to see even more information, given the wider screen.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Whether you're one of the legions of hard-core Xbox players or someone who's only played with the game console casually, get ready for an all-new Xbox Live.

Since the first announcement of the new approach to the massively popular service at E3 in July, some longtime fans have fretted that Microsoft is morphing it into a place for purely casual players at the expense of those for whom Xbox Live is nearly as much a home as where they actually live.

Well, based on a demo I got recently of the (not quite finished) new version of Xbox Live, I'd have to say, fret no more.

Dubbed the new "Xbox Live Experience," this re-launched service--which is rumored to be launching in November, but which Microsoft will only say is due "before Christmas"--really does seem to have something for everyone: an easy-to-use graphical interface complete with deeply customizable avatars that casual players will enjoy, and all kinds of new functionality that will actually reward the dedication of the hard-core Xbox player.

With the new Xbox Live interface, users will be able to see all information relevant to their account in a simpler, easier-to-understand format.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft readily admits that there may be a bit of a transition period for those core players--a time during which a lot of griping might be heard--but the company fully expects a gradual realization on the part of those players that the new service takes the existing Xbox Live and adds all kinds of new community and interactive functions to it.

And, again, I would have to agree.

To date, the Xbox Live interface has been based on what are called blades, essentially pages of information stacked on top of each other in such as way as to maximize the number of choices Xbox Live players have and the directions in which they can go. They can see lists of games to play, choose to watch a movie, go into a section to buy add-ons for games, and so on. The new interface largely does away with the blades era and moves into a more advanced motif of full windows that spread out on the screen and stretch off into the distance, allowing users to shuttle through them, left to right or right to left.

But that's getting a little too far ahead.

All about avatars
Clearly, with this new interface, Microsoft is going for both Sony's and Nintendo's jugulars, hoping to create a community experience that lures gamers of every level of experience, every age group, both genders, and even those for whom watching movies through the Netflix option that Microsoft will make available at some point is as close as they come to playing games.

Any discussion of the new Xbox Live, though, has to start with the service's new avatars function.

The avatar editor in the new Xbox Live lets users choose many different styles, and to modify those styles as often as they like.

(Credit: Microsoft)

To begin with, players can choose an avatar from a large selection that run onto the screen looking like a group of school kids, each dressed differently and sporting diverse hair styles and skin color. Don't like that group? Move on to the next one. And on and on, until you find one you like. Each group is presented randomly, and within the group, individual avatars seem to try to get your attention by jumping up and down and raising their hand. Don't worry, they won't be too disappointed if you choose someone else.

Once you pick your avatar, you go into a low-end character editor where you can outfit your new persona with new clothing, hair, accessories and the like. To those familiar with Nintendo's Mii avatars or those from the countless virtual worlds out there, this will feel like old hat.

But Microsoft doesn't think it is copying Nintendo or anyone else. Rather, it takes the view that it is just adjusting to what the marketplace wants.

And customizable avatars creates an opening for an extension to the traditional Xbox achievements system, in that games can now give out things like clothes, tattoos and other add-ons that will help users distinguish their avatars from the millions of others on the system.

Either way, once you've picked your avatar, you are ready to jump into the new Xbox Live.

When choosing an avatar, the choices come running onto the screen, one group at a time. Some will jump up and down to try to get users' attention.

(Credit: Microsoft)

It's not clear yet, according to Albert Penello, director of marketing for Microsoft's platform and Xbox Live group, whether the avatars will find their way into games. Even if they do, it would likely be something that would happen at the more casual end of the spectrum.

"I doubt Halo would incorporate avatars," Penello said.

Still, one obvious question is whether games like Halo will reward players with things like Master Chief's armor as new avatar accessories, and Penello acknowledged that that is a frequent query from users.

With the existing Xbox Live, a big fan favorite was what are called themes, essentially imagery from games like Halo 3 or Gears of War that are used to customize the Live experience.

Now, these themes will be incorporated in a new way, said Rob Gruhl, a senior strategist with Microsoft's game platform strategy team, who showed me how players can essentially have large game-themed wallpaper that sits in the background of their Xbox Live screen.

Party time
Another big element of the new iteration of Xbox Live is what are called "parties." This, it turns out, is a crucial piece of the whole puzzle, because it's what will allow players to maximize the way they play games together with their friends.

One feature will be that parties will make it easy for players to communicate with a group of friends, using a voice or text messaging system. And even if a group isn't actively playing together, friends can see others' profiles, showing what they're playing and whether it's possible to join games in progress.

"It's an example of a feature that doesn't feel core," said Penello, addressing more concerns from longtime Xbox users that the parties feature is an attempt to turn the service over to casual users, "but I think it's something that core gamers are really going" to like.

That's in part, Gruhl added, because of what is known as party channels, which actually enable the communications between members of a party, regardless of whether they're playing the same game or not.

One benefit of this is that friends can set up a party channel that will allow them to, say, jointly go into a multiplayer game and communicate amongst themselves, even as they play against other players.

The party channel is just one example of a larger channels system that is now an important piece of the larger system, and which makes up what is known as Spotlight. This is basically a view into the very wide range of things that are going on within Xbox Live at any time as viewed through a series of channels.

These channels, then, will show things like events that are coming up in the system, as well as the marketplace, where players can buy all kinds of new things--including a new community games channel that appears in the marketplace. These are games made by the community using Microsoft's XNA Studio development software.

There's also a way, using Spotlight, to search for games, and to sort by genre, so that players can easily see, for example, all the racing games currently in their system or currently available through the marketplace.

And the system is optimized so that all information surrounding a single game will appear on a single game page, where players will be able to see who's playing, what live features are offered, any videos that are available, and any new downloads that have come out.

All told, these game pages will show everything related to the individual games, including material that players don't yet have, allowing them to easily buy those new things--and making it easier for Microsoft to generate revenue through additional transactions.

Yet another new feature is that Xbox Live users will be able to instigate changes to their system through Xbox.com. That means that if players see some new accessory or game update they want while they are away from their Xbox console, but are using the Internet on a computer, they can order what they want and it will queue up. When they return to their Xboxes, they don't have to try to remember what it was they wanted.

This will also allow content developers to create a long tail, said Gruhl, because it will allow them to promote their content on Web sites and drive people to Xbox.com, where they can order it.

And lastly, the new Xbox Live features a simple guide mechanism that gives very quick access to almost everything the system has to offer, and which mimics the blade motif of the existing Xbox Live.

This is basically a quick start dashboard that allows players to jump instantly to what they want, obviating the need, if they're in a hurry, to go through the larger Xbox Live experience. Choices are more limited in what they can do, but most of what they need to navigate is available here.

For Microsoft, then, the new Xbox Live is an attempt to bridge the entire gaming audience, from the most casual, fortysomething woman, to the most hard-core, teen male Halo addict.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

YouTube 'theater view'

The new theater view adds curtains to the side of your video and 'lowers the lights' to hide distracting page elements while you watch.

Google Blogoscoped has unearthed a new YouTube feature that's pretty neat. Called "theater view," when clicked it both darkens the screen and increases the size of the player, centering it on the page and adding red curtains. For a leaned back viewing experience it's certainly not as useful as hitting the full-screen button, but I'd consider it a nice alternative--especially if you don't want to watch larger version of a grainy video just to cut out distracting page elements.

Hulu launched with a similar feature called "lower lights," which could be toggled on and off, something that YouTube has provided that simply darkens the rest of the screen.

So far the theater view option appears only on a small percentage on long-form content from specific providers, meaning the three-minute clip you shot of your dog on the trampoline will not have it. Going forward I'm thinking it could only be an option on educational segments, since it temporarily hides advertisements, which could mean a drop in ad clicks.

It could also be the groundwork for a more advanced YouTube viewing experience. The curtains on the player make for a neat decoration, but could also be placeholders for a more advanced 16:9 player that takes advantage of the increasing number of clips uploaded from shiny new HD video cameras.

I couldn't find any theater view-compatible content to try this theory out with, but the extra width on the player is a good sign. As is the huge mass of content that's been uploaded in 16:9 HD, only to be squished into the service's 4:3 player. Last week's 1GB upload limit increase is a good sign, too.

Source : Cnet News