Lycos rolls out Web-based video apps

Lights, camera, action! Lycos may be the first major portal to offer Web-based video production, but other big players are getting ready

Lycos Communications will roll out a free digital video-hosting and production tool Wednesday, adding to the growing number of Web players offering free video services.

The Lycos Video Production Center will make available 10MB of storage on Lycos servers. Once a video is uploaded, users can fine-tune their creations from the site's Web-based production center, according to Lycos' director of personal information products, Alka Gupta.

The new tools will also let users embed their videos on any Web site, including personal Web pages or auction sites, Gupta said. And Lycos will let users create video e-mails that link to videos stored at Lycos, instead of sending bulky and slow-loading message attachments.

Gupta said "it was critical" for Lycos to get into the video production business.

"Our users have really, really been asking for it," she said. "We've looked at the industry trends, with the penetration of digital cameras and the increase of broadband availability."

Analysts agreed. Lycos may be the first of the major portals to add a video service, but more -- many more -- are likely to follow.

"We've said for a long time that desktop video is the next revolution," said Forrester Research analyst Jeremy Schwartz. "They are quite popular these days -- those guys are all kind of looking at how video becomes the next stage in this process."

Companies are banking on several projections, including one by Forrester Research that envisions 28m US households with broadband connections by 2003 and 17m Webcam users by 2002.

The release of its video production service puts Lycos on a par with Apple, which has offered similar applications since last fall. Apple iTools users can add video to a Web site, send video emails and even get free Web-based video storage space, according to Apple spokeswoman Vanessa Rios.

The Lycos Video Production Center is the result of a collaboration with application service provider VideoShare, of Watertown, Massachusetts, which opened its doors last year.

Other smaller video production companies, like Javu Technologies in New York, have seen their business jump in the past six months, said Sheila Kamara, Javu's director of marketing.

Javu, which is rumored to be courting another major portal, already provides video production services for NTT in Japan and SportsCapsule, which creates videos of children's sporting accomplishments.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

Check out ZDNet's interactive Broadband Guide