NicoNico Douga’s dreams of world conquest may be over before they have begun, as it seems Google has acquired a service, Omnisio, which offers a strikingly similar feature set, including the ability to blanket videos in comments. The service is currently in beta on YouTube.
The features offered are different, some might say quite different – comments show as speech bubbles, rather than being tickered, and, in the current beta at least, these “annotations” can only be added by the video poster. However, on the original site, comments can be added by anyone, filtered, and slides can be added, so it seems likely these features could find their way back onto YouTube.
The service itself had few actual videos, and the oldest is only from 10 months ago, so it definitely seems to be a technological acquisition by Google, since it could hardly be accused of being popular. The site’s content also reeks of the Valley, so it may have been a done deal that this company would be wrapped into a larger one.
The quality of comments is comically dire (though to be fair, most comments are people experimenting with the comments), so at least Nico’s almost equally worthless, but colourful and eyecatching, comments will have some advantage, until Google copies the ticker.
Irrespective of whether these feature represent a direct analogue to NicoNico Douga, it does not take much insight to see that Google is aware of Nico, and likely to experiment with, and perhaps copy outright, the kind of features which helped Nico ascend to popularity (although it will have difficulty copying the otaku community who are mainly responsible for this rise, though this will not concern them outside the Japanese market).
The end for Nico? It remains to be seen, and certainly their Japanese position is relatively secure for the moment, though with Google rolling out these features whilst Nico struggles to turn a profit, and serious overseas expansion for Nico still a way off, their position is starting to look much weaker.