Technology can be an incestuous business to be in. Deals being forged one week, when only the week before, those same parties were sat staring at each other across a court room. And if you keep an ear to the ground an finger to the wind, you’ll have a noticed that it’s the same names popping up again and again…
Here’s a timeline of events covering some recent media deals, partnerships and technology buy-outs:
- August 29th 2006: Eric Schmidt joins Apple’s board of directors.
- October 9th 2006: Google buy YouTube for $1.6bn.
- March 2nd 2007: BBC announce deal with YouTube, to replace illegal low-quality content with higher quality ‘loss leader’ video clips.
- April 2nd 2007: Apple, EMI strike deal to provide DRM-free music to iTunes users.
- May 31st 2007: EMI strikes a deal with YouTube and Apple also announces a deal with YouTube to get video content onto their Apple TV device.
Quite cyclical, wouldn’t you say?
Not unlike the plot of a typically circuitous episode of seventies sit-com Soap (say that 10 times fast and I’ll give you a gold pig,) no sooner does one player bed one partner but they’re off like a flash bedding another.
“But what of the third man Apple? Where do they fit into all of this, if indeed they do?
While it’s clear Apple aren’t going to be any direct or at least immediate financial beneficiary of this recent transaction, thinking ahead, YouTube was either going to go legitimate, or go bust. Or, get bought out by someone other than Google (ehem, Microsoft) and be made legitimate by fair means or foul.
However, I’d like to think that with Apple and Google being a little closer these days, some arrangement with regards to video content might not be within the realms of fantasy. After all, both Apple and Google have deals with the major labels, so such arrangements might be seen as being organic to their respective deals.”
But to what end? What are the benefits of all this furious f… deal-making? Apart from money, it’s also about creating an ecosystem of content delivery and content consumption.
What we have are the BBC and EMI as the originators of content (the givers) while Apple and YouTube are the deliverers (the takers.)
So when Apple struck a deal with YouTube (being mindful of the fact that YouTube swing both ways) they’re really striking a deal with Google.
Just what Freud would think is anyones’ guess? I’m sure he mentioned something about there being four people in any relationship.
Personally, I think Apple are being a little premature. Coming a little early, if you like.
Right now, YouTube is still just a loose collection of context-free video clips and samples, non of which make for the kind of viewing you want to sit down to.
We have a turn of phrase in these parts: all skirt and no knickers / panties. As of now, YouTube isn’t so much a venue as a back-alley Speak Easy.
In time, I’m sure this will change, and Apple don’t just walk into any old relationship without first establishing some ground rules, first. Think of these agreements as pre-nuptuals, if that makes you feel any better.
And then there’s YouTube’s bitter wrangle with Viacom, which if handled delicately, could blossom into something wonderful, much to the benefit of Apple, too. A manage et trios, for want of a better turn of phrase.
Oh, the joy of tech’…