Let's be honest, we all spend a lot of time on YouTube. Even if you don't spend a lot of time using it for entertainment, chances are you spend a lot of time using it for research. Everyone uses YouTube - that's the world we live in today. Kids at a young age are introduced to the internet as a part of their daily lives and even adults spend on average 40 minutes per day on YouTube alone. Is it wrong? I think it depends on how you look at it.
Economically speaking, I don't think it's wrong at all, in fact, it might even be a good thing. If someone finds it's a wise investment to spend hours on YouTube, who can stop them? Morally, I don't think it's the best decision to spend hours a day on YouTube, but it might not be the worst thing either. Let's say you're spending your time watching videos strictly for research only, is that morally wrong? I think it's good to do research, learning is a good thing. As my pastor often says, sometimes the good can distract us from what's best. But I'm not here to preach to you about how to spend your time or whether or not YouTube is a bad thing, I'm here to predict what it will look like 15 years from now.
The History of YouTube
Below is a quick overview of the major events that took place for YouTube:
2005 - YouTube is invented.
2006 - Google purchases YouTube for $1.65 billion.
2007 - YouTube is launched in nine countries.
2008 - HD videos are introduced.
2009 - One billion daily views.
2010 - Two billion daily views, Trueview Ads are launched.
2011 - Three billion daily views, first major redesign.
2012 - Four billion daily views, first video to reach one billion views: Gangnam Style.
2013 - Pilot program for content providers is launched.
2014 - Susan Wojcicki becomes CEO of YouTube, Music Key is released.
2015 - YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming, and YouTube Red are released.
2016 - New headquarters is purchased for $215 million in San Bruno, CA.
2017 - Redesign of user interfaces, logo is updated.
2018 - Rebranding of YouTube Red to YouTube Premium, announces separate YouTube Music subscription.
As you can see from the timeline above, each year something new happens in the YouTube world. Either they release something new, they make a major change or decision, or their rate of daily views increases drastically. With only thirteen years of being around, YouTube went from this, to now receiving one billion hours of daily views. With all of this in mind, one can't help to wonder: where will YouTube be in the future?
Fifteen years is a long time so it's hard to predict exactly what it will be like, however, I think we can get a general idea. If YouTube does it right and they don't make any stupid decisions, I think it's safe to say that they will always continue to grow and develop. I know for a fact that they won't hit a peak where they stop changing and improving - they're not going to "take advantage" us because they're not a monopoly as some may argue. It's true that they're the biggest source for sharing and uploading videos, but they still have a lot of competition.
There is much confusion over what constitutes a monopoly. A common definition of monopoly is "a firm that is the single provider of a particular good or service." This definition, however, is useless for a number of reasons. Defining a monopoly as a single provider implies the smallest differentiation of a product or service could, in turn, bestow upon the creator a monopoly over its provision. For example, Jackie may have a monopoly on purple polka dotted peppermints or Joe on magnolia-flavored popsicles. Even with regards to homogeneous goods such as wheat, one could still hold a monopoly on "Robinson Wheat" and Joe could hold a monopoly on "Joe Wheat," as the wheat produced could be differentiated by how it was grown, what fertilizers or nutrients were added, etc. This definition of monopoly as it virtually renders everyone a monopolist. Nobody else can offer the unique labor contributions of other people, we are all monopolizing our skillsets. - Chase Rachels, A Spontaneous Order
So with the knowledge that YouTube is only a monopoly of itself - not a monopoly of entertainment - it has no other option but to constantly be changing and trying to improve if they want to keep receiving traffic. They're going to have to work to get me to want to spend time on YouTube instead of Netflix, Instagram, or any other entertainment/social media provider. The question is, how will they change?
Social media in general has changed over time, nobody in the early 2000's would've imagined some other platform would come along and compete with Facebook, yet Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat came along. Assuming some other video sharing source comes along (you never know), YouTube will really have to step up their game.
Why do you go on social media? What's the difference between being on Instagram and being on YouTube? The answer is that one feels much more personal than the other. It's deceptive because when scrolling on Instagram, you can convince yourself that you're socializing with others when you're really not. Personally, I prefer to spend my time on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook because I can see what my friends are doing. I would be shocked if fifteen years go by and YouTube is still only about subscribing to channels and watching what's trending. My first prediction is that they will come up with some new way to see what your friends are watching, your playlists will become much more like boards on Pinterest, and there will be growth in a YouTube Community.
My second prediction is that in fifteen years, you will have the option to upload videos that are interactive. I would imagine that you will be able to take surveys directly in the videos themselves, similar to what Instagram does with stories.
And finally, I think there will be a need to motivate people to upload more videos. There will be a demand for more channels and more content, so, it only seems logical to assume that YouTube will allow you to edit videos directly on their website. If they can make it easy enough to upload and edit your own videos to look professional, they will get people even more people hooked on wondering, how many views did I get today? If they can figure out a way to make editing videos more fun and personal, I think they will see an uprising of more people using YouTube to upload and watch.
These are mere ideas of what I think YouTube could do in the future (and perhaps may want to consider doing now.) As I said before, if YouTube chooses to refrain from improving and releasing new ideas, I think they'll eventually be taken over by other entertainment sources. That may take longer than fifteen years, but sometime in the future I think they'll discover that if they lack progress, they'll start lacking in users. No one can really know for sure what will happen, but it's fun to think about the possibilities. With the amazing growth we've already seen in just thirteen years, it's interesting to think about what our world will look like in another thirteen to fifteen. Maybe YouTube will still be huge, or maybe people will start to gain interest in something else. We'll see.