Online-Video & Entrepreneurship

If you’re an entrepreneur interested in the Internet marketing and online-video, you’ll want pick up “Smarter, Faster and Cheaper,” which is a refreshing take on the space by mini-maven David Garland. My first impression of Garland, a fellow Wiley author, was jaded by his “as seen on ABC” logo and cheesy pocket hanky. I thought he might be one of those multi-level marketers or “get rich quick” dudes, who suck you into a spam vortex and start pimping eBooks. But we love ya anyway, Joel Comm. And congrats on the weight loss!

Anyway, oh contraire on that first impression. During our 1-hour chat before this interview (see The Rise To the Top) I discovered he’s quite a likable chat. He also told me I was harder to pin down then the celebrity authors who endorsed his book, which was a sad reminder I need a virtual assistant.

Check out Garland, and enjoy this little interview. It’s worth the click. I’d embed it here, but the mini maven deserves some more traffic, even if he’s got loads.

David Garland interviewing Nalts, who lacks the pocket handkerchief but does the best he can.

Flip Cam Alternative in JVC Picsio?

A month ago while on vacation in Florida I discovered I had forgotten my Canon HV30. I panicked.

I searched my laptop case (a giant man purse) for a Flip cam to hold me over. Note how easy it is to say “flip cam” instead of “small video camera.” No luck. On a trip to Best Buy I look at the Flips, but I continue to be frustrated by Flip’s price rigidity. Instead of bringing any legacy model close to the $100 point (I’m the guy that would own five of them for that price), they keep adding features and pushing past the $200. At $200 it’s a rival to larger but much better $300-$500 cameras. At $100 (or even $150) it’s an impulse buy and almost disposable.

Having been duped by Sylvania’s “Poor Man’s Flip Cam,” I would not go that route again.

So I tried out the JVC Picsio because of a significant sale ($150 if I recall, off a $199 ARP) and the super strong endorsement from the Best Buy dude. Not Billy this time. I was in Florida.

A worthy competitor to Flip in my book, but not according to Amazon raters...

Pros:

  • As small as Flip, but I believe the picture quality is as good or better. You can go 720 or 1080, and in good lighting it looks like a $500 camera.
  • I was afraid the JVC Picsio wouldn’t play nicely with my Mac, and I’d need software to convert. Surprisingly the files were .mov files and ready to roll into iMovie.
  • It takes photos and they’re pretty decent. I’ve learned not to get lured by megapixel promises… consider these pretty nice for a discount video camera ($150 would get you far more in a digital still camera).
  • You can find the price online even lower (see Amazon).
  • It’s very small and goes in the pocket easily. We took some cool swamp footage I can’t remember if I posted! Wait- I didn’t, did I?
  • I like to toggle between photo and video camera easily. It confuses the victim, however.

Cons:

  • It got slammed on Amazon’s reviews, so I wouldn’t have purchased it had I known that. But my experience wasn’t as severe as theirs.
  • No USB plug: you’d be surprised how that seemingly trivial miss can be so frustrating.
  • The playback sound (camera’s speaker) it almost inaudible. Like the Flip, no external mics welcome. Indoors without ambience, it did well. Cars not so much.
  • The power button is hard to use (quite annoying to dig fingernail multiple times to turn off/on), and the navigation is more complex. It began recording in my pocket a few times.
  • Apparently when the battery dies, it’s a paperweight.
  • Some people claim the images are not as steady, but again I was happy with what I got for $150 on an impulse buy.

Would I buy it again? I suppose if I didn’t already own a bunch of Flips (the Hello Kitty one is still my fav), I might have instead sprung for the Flip Mino to give it a try. As I recall, Greg Benson (mediocrefilms) shot this Yearbook parody video with it (amazing). For another $50 or $100 I’d like to see how it compares directly to the JVC Picsio and other portable cameras.

Here’s some footage I shot with it. What do you think?

Bottom Line:

  • I am surprised at Flip’s ability to dominate the market and hold on high prices ala Mac. It’s a great innovation, but I keep expecting for a Canon, JVC, Sony or other manufacturer to come out with a $100 Flip killer. Not yet.
  • As long as Flip keeps innovating (and allowing older models to hit that $100ish level) it may continue to dominate the ultra portable market, and I noticed the bold advertising campaign has continued even post Cisco¬†acquisition. I do wish it would use actual amateur video in its ads instead of the awkwardly over produced simulated amateur clips. Again Flip resembles Mac in its advertising: slick, cool, musical.

P.S. If you Flip peeps wants to loan me the newest (UltraHD or this brushed-steal gen 2 Mino) for a head-to-head trial against the JVC Piscio I’ll gladly take the challenge and return the camera. I’d shoot simultaneous¬†shots of the Flip and JVC (recording in the same conditions at same time), then post them on my daily vlogs on YouTube (unclenalts). Just hit me at kevinnalts at gmail (if I don’t reply immediately, don’t hesitate shooting again).

Website Video Tools if You’re Too Poor for Brightcove But Too Rich to Settle for YouTube Embeds

I’ve long been baffled by the overwhelming alternatives of video-streaming players. It struck me as a commodity market, and one ready for a major consolidation… and I couldn’t understand why anyone would pay to stream videos on their site when so many cool tools are free (which here means “cheaper than $100 a month”).

Larry Kless, who will facilitate a panel I’m on at “Online Video Platform Summit” (Streaming Media West) in a few days, blogged recently about video-streaming. Don’t read Kress’ blog because he fails to mention me (tee, hee), but check the USAToday piece about a maturing space that includes such players as Fliqz, Sorenson Media’s 360, and VideoBloom. Adap.tv is another player, but not mentioned.

So it finally it occurs to me (I’m a little slow when it comes to technology, damnit) that there appears to be a sustainable middle-space between free sites (YouTube, Blip, Vimeo, etc) and more robust corporate solutions (which Brightcove and others are trying to secure).

I urge clients and marketers to post on YouTube regardless of what they choose to stream videos on their tiny little websites. It’s a no-brainer for two reasons: first, because it helps their content optimize on search engines (sorry girlfriend, but Google aint indexing your Quicktime player buried three layers deep on your product.com site). Second, most people will find the video on YouTube video far before ever finding their stupid website… and that may be enough to make a sale.

That said, embedding YouTube videos on your website gives off an amateur vibe. You can’t private label it, it may have related videos that take people elsewhere, and you get limited data. And Brightcove is getting that “if you haven’t heard of us you probably can’t afford us” vibe.

Enter the mid-market players, which will provide far more customization and data without breaking the bank (TubeMogul.com has partnerships with a lot of free sites that also serve this need in various degrees). And here’s how it works:

  1. Upload your videos to the sites, sorensonmedia.com, fliqz.com or videobloom.com, where they are hosted.
  2. Tweak the video player to include your company name (now you get branding and a less amateur feel).
  3. Grab a code to place the video on your site or blog (you can first share the video privately with clients for approvals, which requires a lot of effort on YouTube).
  4. Pay a monthly fee. Sorenson and Fliqz start at $99 monthly.

I will still argue that this space is ripe for consolidation, and that most small-to-medium businesses will probably choose their video player based on their choice of hosting provider (the same way we accept whatever damned device our cable or car manufacturer provides). So if I were one of these guys, I’d be developing partnerships with those providers and giving them an upsell opportunity in exchange for an installed base.

I also fear that these players, when finding the low-level market increasingly price sensitive, will have trouble moving far “upstream,” as most dreaded Fortune 500 information-systems or information-technology departments pride themselves on rejecting anything that isn’t enterprise worthy (and only Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, God, Blackberry and perhaps Brightcove know how to pull that off).