YouTube 4K resolution: Do we care?

4K resolution may not mean much now, but before long, YouTube has just given itself the potential to revolutionize the way cinematic movies are distributed and viewed.

Not yet, but we will.  YouTube announced Friday that viewers and uploaders were no longer limited to mere HD video on YouTube. From the "Our resolution is bigger than your resolution" files comes 4K video which amounts to nearly twice the resolution of IMAX. Which, quite frankly, isn't going to play well on your iPad.

According to YouTube engineer, Ramesh Sarukkai,

"...we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4K. To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors."

OK, so what's the deal? How is this of any relevance to the average YouTube user who most likely lacks a 25-foot screen, much less a projector or computer that can handle 4K video? Or to even the professional filmmaker who wants to upload content to YouTube but probably doesn't have access to the $20,000 worth of equipment required to shoot at this resolution? Much less the rendering farm required to produce the video?

This isn't about current capabilities. This is about YouTube changing the game in the next couple of years and setting itself up to be a distributor of high-quality original content. What would it mean if independent filmmakers could have their work shown anywhere with the equipment to stream and project it, rather than just at Sundance or Cannes (and probably in higher resolution)? Instead of being released straight to video, would movies get released straight to YouTube? Or movies that might only have a limited release garner much larger audiences on YouTube? It's hard to say exactly where this will go, but it's clear that YouTube and Google are positioning themselves for bigger and better things than your iPad.