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Hey Rizzn-ites,

I’ve been dancing around talking on this topic directly on the show and here in the blog, but essentially, here’s the scoop: my involvement, and the involvement of N-Ventive Studios with the UBN broadcast has come to an end. I’ve not wanted to talk about it publicly here for fear or souring certain business relationships, with Paul Darby, and with those that work with him. I enjoyed my tenure as a consultant for him, but as I mentioned in my last post, our working relationship was peppered with intense communication failures.

Essentially, what I think the biggest mitigating factor, if I try to read between the lines, is the decision of Unimax, Paul Darby, and UBN to go with the live video broadcasting service HelloWorld.com. It baffled me why Paul had the impulse to go with them in the first place, especially considering two major factors: A) HelloWorld is not a free service, it’s a pay service and B) UStream.TV treated us like celebrities for the numbers we brought into the service during the broadcast (and a wonderful working relationship with Brad Hunstable from UStream has grown out of it).

Here’s the problem with HelloWorld – it’s primary business model is MLM based, so it’s very difficult to find any negative press about it in the general wilds of the internet. As someone who was enlisted to make this software work for a professional solution, let me be the one to give them their first and most widely read piece of negative publicity.

Hello World… it sucks!

Under no circumstances should you for any reason subscribe to this service.

To be fair, though, let’s go over their positive side:

  • They have a really slick studio side. Every bit of the JavaScript performs quickly and efficiently.
  • They have a full set of features.
    • Blogging, a barely index-able text representation of a blog.
    • Podcasting, the strongest of their tools, but very limited for reasons I’ll go over below.
    • Video IM,
    • Video Mail,
    • Live Broadcast,
  • They give you a web cam when you sign up.

My experience was mostly with the Podcasting, Live Broadcast and Video Mail functions.

That’s more or less where the good stuff ends. Again, in bullet-point style, a few of the ways that HelloWorld stinks:

  • Unless you are an Internet Explorer user, the site will not work. At all. Don’t even think about it.
  • The broadcast module is written in Active-X. This basically means it works about 50% of the time – and we tested this on really solid hardware (the box we tested on was a $10,000 Video Toaster).
  • The browsing interface tends to work intermittently. It’s not clear how to create a free account from the front page, and unless you are logged in, you don’t have access to look at the directories.
  • The broadcast plans are metered.
    • $9.95 /month – the Cast Plan
      • Your broadcasts are limited to 20 minutes at a time.
      • 3 Simultaneous viewer limit.
      • Video emails are limited to 2 minutes.
      • Once your bandwidth hits 1 GB, you’re downloads are cut off from the public
    • $19.95 /month – the Agent Plan
      • 40 minute broadcasts.
      • 5 Simultaneous viewer limit.
      • 3 minute video emails.
      • 2 GB bandwidth limit.
    • $39.95 /month – the Producer Plan
      • 60 minute broadcasts.
      • 10 Simultaneous viewer limit.
      • 4 minute video emails.
      • 3 GB bandwidth limit.
    • $2000 down, $200 /month
      • Unlimited everything.
    • There is no free version that allows you to do anything but watch video.
  • Their marketing arm is deceptive.
    • They promised that there was a flash player. There isn’t.
    • They promised that there was a way to embed the player. There isn’t.
    • They promised cross-platform compatibility. There isn’t.
    • They promised the ability to interface directly with the programming department. The closest we came to this was yelling at the supervisor for customer service.

If you’re not particularly well versed in bandwidth lingo, you may not see the inherent problem in those plans (and that’s what they’re counting on). Just to give you a basis of comparison, though, my daily podcast is recorded in mono, and a low bitrate, and therefore a very small audio file only. On a monthly basis, we’re shipping out Terabytes worth of data.

If your video broadcasts experience any kind of success whatsoever (which is why you’re doing it, right?) then you’ll run out of bandwidth in a matter of days. 1-3 GB is a joke when it comes to video.

If the bandwidth question doesn’t trip any alarm bells off for you, the viewer limit should. A Skype call with a good broadband connection should afford you the ability to broadcast to 3 to 10 people. 10 might be pushing it, but there are many other free solutions if all you’re trying to reach is single digit numbers. This is not a good solution for what they sell it as in the marketing department: a solution to launch your video to the world.

What if your an internet marketer? You’re probably looking to create an MLM program out of this. Beware: the marketing folks will tell you it’s possible to create a 3-up system out of this, but what they will lead you to believe that even the $9.95 a month customer can refer new sign-ups. They cannot.

This is a deceptive organization built on out-moded, out-dated, and generally bad technology. I absolutely do not recommend this service – and anyone who is pitching their expertise in video technology that uses this service should be treated with extremely suspicious eyes. Only a complete internet newbie with no experience in the space would look at this company and think it’s a good idea to use this as their video platform of choice.

Bottom line? HelloWorld is not a Web 2.0 app. It’s not the best solution for online video. In fact, I’m willing to stake my name in saying that it’s a solution for suckers. If you are willing to pay out the nose for something that’s now free, go right ahead. Otherwise? Avoid like the plague.

Later this week, we’ll take a moment with Brad and talk a bit about UStream, a service that I’ve evaluated against every other live video service out there (yes, even the ones in private beta). I’m rather close (especially after the recent updates) to name them the best of the best out there.

More on that later though. Stay tuned!


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