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Be first to try the YouTube & Flickr ‘killer’

Apparently PC Advisor was the first publication in the world to report on the novel new internet publishing tool from Izimi – which is in as good a position as any Web 2.0 startup to contest YouTube, Flickr and MySpace’s positions as the coolest and most useful technologies on the internet. That could give us bragging rights if Izimi achieves what its backers promise and turns into the hottest brand on the internet since Google was a trendy startup, rather than a corporate money-maker.

Izimi’s chief executive, Marc Lyne, visited the PC Advisor offices yesterday to show off the concept in full – it’s available now for anyone to use for free, but it’s worth seeing just how Lyne and Izimi’s investors see the technology being used.

It works like this: sign up for an Izimi account, download the 3MB Izimi application to your PC, use the app to serve any file from your PC (any file type, no size restrictions), send the automatically created Izimi url for that content to one or more of your friends/colleagues, and you’re off. This means you can publish any type of content whatsoever, with anyone on the internet accessing it directly from your PC. And they don’t necessarily need to receive an email highlighting that the content is available – people can also locate your photos, videos, music and any other type of material via the Izimi website.

So the top-level benefits are – no restriction on file size, no restriction on file type (many online content-sharing sites support only certain formats), the content resides on your PC (the terms and conditions of MySpace suggest News Corp owns the content you upload) and simplicity.

But it’s how people use the concept that will dictate whether this is a breakthrough technology, or just another clever idea. Lyne said the Izimi community is likely to come up with the best implementations, but he gave us a few ideas for starters.

Users of Blogger, for example, could embed a video that’s hosted on their home PC (or on the PC of another Izimi user) inside their blog. Go to the blog of David Ingram, vice president of product marketing at Izimi, and there’s a demo of an embedded Izimi video. That video isn’t hosted on Blogger, it’s launching directly from Ingram’s home laptop.

In addition, anyone interested in setting up a web page who doesn’t want to pay the hosting fees now has a simple way to host the site from their own PC. The idea could be used for anything – publish a whitepaper, give people access to your CV, allow family and friends to view your birthday videos etc.

But perhaps the most interesting idea Lyne proposed was for people to use the technology to sell goods – take a 30-second clip of the car you’re trying to sell and have that video show up in a third-party’s classified advertising section. Izimi is already discussing this concept with potential partners.

There are downsides. You have to leave your PC connected at all times to allow people to download your content, and you could, in principle, run into trouble with your ISP if hundreds of people start viewing videos from your home computer. Many ISPs impose limits on the amount of content you can upload via your connection each month.

Plus, there are the obvious copyright issues that have plagued YouTube – give people a means to publish videos and music online and some of them will take advantage of it by publishing other people’s work.

And how does Izimi plan to make money? Advertising has been mentioned as has allowing users to sell their content via the service. But one thing’s for sure, Izimi’s costs should be a lot lower than the likes of YouTube: all the content available via the service is stored on users’ PCs, so there’s no need to splash out on servers and storage.

One worth watching.

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