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Yahoo Launches Live Video Service

The experiment reflects a strategy of building and launching services quickly, and responding to the immediate market feedback.

Yahoo has launched an online video service that lets people post their shenanigans live on the site, or embed the player on their own page.

Yahoo Live launched Thursday night as an "experimental release," which means it had its glitches. "We also saw our site go through some intermittent outages as traffic surged late into the evening," Michael Quoc, director of advanced products, said Friday on the Yahoo Live blog. "We've been researching it and have identified some key improvements we need to make to make the site run more smoothly -- we're working hard to implement those now."

The Yahoo experiment reflects a strategy of building and launching services quickly, and responding to the immediate market feedback. While such an approach gives the site lots of flexibility to go in the direction set by users, it also is far riskier than the typical scenario of building a more stable product before going public. Yahoo's advanced products group is also small, comprising only a half dozen people.

"We're a really tiny incubation group which is tasked with building innovative new products and getting them out there ASAP," Quoc said. "Our mantra is to iterate and build with the community, as opposed to unveiling the next big thing on day one."

Along with showing the Web cam-generated video stream from a person's computer, the service also offers developers an application programming interface for mashing up live video streams on a Web site or client application. The API uses REST, or representational state transfer, an XML-based protocol for invoking Web services over HTTP.

A unique feature in the service is the ability to see people watching the same video, assuming their Web cams are linked to the service. In addition, there's live chat while the video is playing.

In launching Yahoo Live, the Web portal is trying to go a step further than online video services, such as Google's YouTube, which lets people upload video for playback later.

The company is offering the product as its board considers Microsoft's offer to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion, one of the largest purchases ever in the technology industry.

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