Soapbox, is it too late for MSN?

February 17th, 2007 at 12:00 am

After more than six months, Microsoft finally released in public beta their own video sharing website. If you look at Soapbox , it appears to be nothing more than just another YouTube clone. MSN has been criticized earlier on for releasing a video sharing site too late in the game. The functionality of MSN's video sharing site doesn't veer far from YouTube or any other video sharing website for that matter. It will be harder for Soapbox to capture a bigger chunk of the market from YouTube or even from the smaller independent video service providers like LiveVideo and Viddler.

Nevertheless, there were some original thoughts put into Soapbox's design which I won't mind thanking MSN for. For one, the interface design thank God was not copied from YouTube's. I personally like the simple design of Soapbox compared to the cluttered, really stressful appearance of YouTube. The video categories were placed on the left side for easier navigation. When you point your mouse on top of a video clip preview, you'll see the video's description immediately. The sharing, comments, tagging functions were placed in folders beneath the video player. Admittedly, there's some added mouse clicking action to access those functions but the process is not too laborious. Plus, you can search for other videos, post comments, look for filters while watching a video clip in a single window. You don't need to scroll down the whole page vertically to find your results or see your comments. All in all, user interface and navigation in Soapbox is definitely faster than YouTube.

However, some not so good features of the website includes very little collection of videos. Although, after going live this month the contributions is expected to grow in the next few months. Plus, competition is really fierce. There are a lot of video providing websites out there that aside from the user video contributions contain independent segments and regular shows which have established a decent but loyal base. Good luck pulling them to Soapbox. Also, uploading of videos are still limited on Microsoft’s Spaces servers.

Mashable's Paul Glazowski posted the following comments which “as long as the group behind the scenes introduces more Live features to the site with relative haste, it might end up one of those extra things you and I turn to rely on more and more for our entertainment and discovery.” I agree completely, especially the “with relative haste” part. So MSN, keep on moving.