Credit: JoostYouTube killer? Joosts founders want to blow the competition out of the water.
What it is: Short video clips posted online and shared on other sites or via e-mail. No special software needed.
The buzz: Video is the future of the Internet, or so the gurus tell us. In the wake of Googles $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube, dozens of companies are vying to prove that online video clips can be not only viral, but also profitable.
Companies to watch: YouTube is the global leader, with about 30 percent of its users coming from outside the United States. Despite joining the Google empire, YouTube does face competition from Revver, Metacafe, Sonys Grouper, Photobucket, and others, not to mention countless legitimate open-source projects and less legitimate video piracy sites. But the ultimate GooTube killer could be Joost, a peer-to-peer video platform being developed by the Scandinavian founders of Skype. Joost aims to become no less than the future of television itself.
Obstacles to success: Money, intellectual property, and inappropriate content. YouTube, which has never turned a profit, hopes to demonstrate that Web surfers will tolerate brief commercials. Meanwhile, keeping copyrighted material, pornography, and even terrorist propaganda at bay is a constant battle.
Digg this: They dont look like much, but social bookmarking sites are making a big impact.
What it is: Web sites for saving, sharing, and recommending Web links
The buzz: Social bookmarking has been around for a few years, but only recently has it moved beyond a core audience of bloggers and techies. With their ability to direct increasingly huge numbers of eyeballs, the sites have become minor players in the news business. Major media organizations have taken notice and integrated social bookmarking tools into their online strategies.
Companies to watch: Digg is the kingfor now. MySpace (owned by News Corp.), Facebook, Reddit (owned by Cond Nast), del.icio.us (owned by Yahoo!), Newsvine, and StumbleUpon offer similar services, and even Internet pioneer Netscape has returned from the dead as a social bookmarking site.
Obstacles to success: Revenues and payola scams. Although social bookmarking sites can direct huge traffic, they have yet to prove that theyre more than targets for acquisition. And the sites have struggled to implement robust systems to prevent and catch abuse.
Credit: HelioTotal buddy awareness: Unless you chose to, youll never lose track of your friends with new GPS-capable phones.
What it is: Mobile social software, or programs that help friends keep track of each others whereabouts
The buzz: MoSoSo is just starting to migrate from Asias digerati to young Western college students and urban yuppies. Some MoSoSo systems in the United States rely on the rudimentary global positioning systems (GPS) that the Federal Communications Commission now requires to be in most mobile phones. Others involve simple codes sent by text message (e.g. @ Moes on 23rd) and broadcast to a preset network of friends. MoSoSos belong to the broader field of location-aware services that, say, notify you when youre near an ATM orless exciting to mobile subscribersserve you custom advertisements based on your location.
Companies to watch: Its wide open. U.S. cell phone companies are exploring their options, and there are dozens of independent efforts such as Mologogo, Googles Dodgeball and the London-based Playtxt. RAVE Wireless focuses on winning mobile phone contracts for entire college campuses. Helio, a joint venture between South Koreas SK Telecom and U.S. broadband provider Earthlink, has made slick integration with Google Maps and MySpace the centerpiece of its marketing efforts.
Obstacles to success: Privacy concerns and market fragmentation. These are opt-in systems, but abuse is bound to happen, whether from advertising or stalking. Whats more likely is that MoSoSo never takes off beyond a small urban audience because mobile carriers won't agree on a single standard.
Credit: Second LifeVirtual success: Second Life is fast becoming big business.
What it is: Massively multiplayer online role-playing games
The buzz: Most MMORPGs are glorified video games, but one of these virtual worlds is fast becoming big business. In Second Life, the nearly two million unique residentsmore than two thirds of them from outside the United Statescan buy virtual real estate, clothing, and accessories for their avatars (customizable cyber-characters) using Linden Dollars. The virtual currency can be exchanged for real money: An average of USD $158,000 changes hands through the LindeX exchange market every 24 hours.
Sites to watch: Second Life, period. The 3-D virtual world has its own Swedish embassy, a Sears store, and a dedicated Reuters correspondent. Though there are other players such as Active Worlds, Linden Labs Second Life is the only one with media buzz. South Korea-based Cyworld does offer a virtual Miniroom where users can play dress-up with their Minime avatar, but the site is much more like MySpace than an MMORPG.
Obstacles to success: Lousy software. Crashes are common in Second Life, and the user experience needs to be vastly improved if the virtual world is to reach a general audience.