YouTube made a big announcement on Wednesday night — ten digits big to be exact. The video-sharing startup that spent its early days operating out of an apartment above a pizzeria now boasts one billion users. That's billion with a "b", and yes, that is very cool.
One billion users is also a lot of users. The only site that can really compete with that kind of volume is Facebook. To be specific, YouTube announced on its official blog that "now has more than a billion unique users every single month." It's unclear how "active" these users are, to use an industry term, but boy are they numerous. YouTube offered these arresting bullet points to illustrate its intimidating new size (there's also a fourth, but it's dumb):
- Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
- Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences.
- If YouTube were a country, we'd be the third largest in the world after China and India.
Okay, we get it. YouTube is really big. We've all know for a very long time that Facebook is really big. We also know that Google+, the social network created by YouTube's parent company, is struggling. And so a very natural idea to arise from this scenario would suggest that YouTube could be a pretty badass social network, if it wanted to. If fact, Google's considered this idea, and its research arm even published a paper titled "The YouTube Social Network."
YouTube, by any stretch of the imagination, will not be facing off against Facebook any time soon. They're really different websites! But it'll be interesting to see what Google does. The company's been on a consolidation spree, cutting services left and right — RIP Reader — and has always longed for a real Facebook competitor, a Google social network that people actually use and love. Meanwhile, YouTube appears to be the place where everybody comes together. Google's been flirting with the idea of integrating the YouTube community more with Google+, the company's latest Facebook competitor. And with a little imagination, you could probably see how that might be a heck of a move if done correctly.
Facebook has a billion users. YouTube has a billion users. Google owns YouTube. Why doesn't Google+ have a billion users? According to some, it's only a matter of time.
Just for fun, these are the 20 oldest videos on YouTube:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.