MKBHD says sure to Google Glass, no to the metaverse – TechCrunch


In case you’ve ever searched on YouTube for a overview of the newest iPhone or electrical automobile, then you definately’ve in all probability encountered Marques Brownlee. Since he began his channel MKBHD as a teen in 2009, Brownlee has amassed 15.8 million subscribers for his in-depth, but approachable tech movies. He’s even scored interviews with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Invoice Gates and Barack Obama, and to prime all of it off, he’s an expert final frisbee participant (the previous president even complimented his “unbelievable hops.”)

However maybe Brownlee’s most spectacular accomplishment is his means to stay related over ten years into his on-line video profession with out shedding his viewers’s belief. And as brief type video content material turns into a necessity for any creator, Brownlee has seamlessly transitioned to TikTok, the place he made one of many solely good April Fools’ Day pranks.

We caught up with Brownlee at VidCon, the place he was serving to Discord promote the beta take a look at of its server subscriptions (be careful, Patreon). In a dialog with maybe essentially the most well-known tech reviewer — sorry, different TechCrunch writers — the 28-year-old web star instructed us about transitioning to TikTok, his views on the metaverse, and why Google Glass deserves a redemption arc.

This interview has been condensed for readability.

TC: It’s not simple to make TikToks or YouTube shorts once you made it huge on YouTube with 20-ish-minute movies. How do you go about making shorter content material on these new platforms? 

MB: I take into consideration this so much. I see ways in which I don’t like doing it, like folks repurposing different content material and turning it into brief type content material. I’d a lot moderately make native content material for every platform. Once we first began making shorts, it was a problem. I used to be like, how do I actually lower this right down to 60 seconds or much less? I believe my first three shorts are 59.8 seconds lengthy. We discovered that after particularly deciding to spend time on TikTok, then attending to know what works properly, helped us make stuff native to the platform higher.

TC: With so many new creator packages throughout platforms, what does the pie chart of your revenue as a creator seem like?

MB: I’d say it’s about 50% YouTube’s built-in advert mannequin, and 50% all the pieces else — that features our merch retailer, different offers we do, and issues like that. However the bread and butter for thus lengthy has been the movies. It’s only a well-oiled machine. We don’t actually take into consideration overhead, we simply know that movies can and can carry out, which is… thanks, YouTube!

TC: Although brief type video has develop into extraordinarily well-liked, nobody’s actually discovered tips on how to monetize it but — do you’ve any ideas on how which may work?

I don’t have a solution, and anybody who claims to have a solution might be mendacity. It makes a lot sense that brief type video can explode. The numbers that we see are usually not the identical because the numbers elsewhere. , 20 million views on TikTok could be very completely different from 20 million views on YouTube. Once we discuss monetizing movies, monetization on YouTube is tied to the video since you made the selection [to watch the video]. You noticed the thumbnail, you hung out there, that was on you. That transaction works. However shorts are simply completely completely different. I don’t know tips on how to tie that collectively and make {that a} good, neat monetization resolution.

TC: You’ve stayed related as a tech reviewer for over ten years — how do steadiness staying true to your perspective whereas additionally remaining accessible?

MB: I attempt to be as clear as attainable about what I like and don’t like. It’s subjective. However whether or not or not somebody agrees with my choice in a chunk of tech virtually doesn’t matter. I attempt to put myself into the footwear of the viewer and say what I’d need them to know in the event that they have been going to purchase the factor.

TC: What traits in know-how are you most enthusiastic about?

MB: I believe AR/VR is one all of our eyes are on proper now. It’s enjoyable as a result of for me, essentially the most fascinating beginnings of recent tech are once you get a product that truly is meant to assist folks or ship a brand new expertise, and I believe we’re proper about to start out seeing merchandise which are like, the killer app, like actually fascinating and bringing folks in. We had Google Glass, we had loopy stuff up to now, however I believe we’re about to see a bunch of cool stuff.

TC: What do you consider the concept of the metaverse?

MB: I get what folks see in it. I get why Fb — or, Meta — needs to have a giant stake in it. However on the similar time, it has to have a function. We’ve got to wish to do the brand new factor for a purpose, and I’m nonetheless searching for that purpose.

TC: Yeah, taking part in video video games in VR is one factor, however hanging out with buddies in VR and going to work in VR is a more durable promote.

MB: There’s some “Prepared Participant One”-type vibes generally the place it’s like, “what would it not imply if we didn’t should go to the assembly?” However it’s additionally not that arduous to simply do the factor we usually do. I’m searching for a purpose to actually wish to do this stuff. I give new stuff a shot, as a result of that’s my job. I give it an opportunity. However I believe we’re possibly on the point of getting a bunch extra fascinating solutions to that query.

TC: Meta’s VR {hardware} is enjoyable to play with, however I don’t wish to dwell in it.

MB: It’s simply one other cool piece of tech to play with, and there’s a whole lot of cool tech to play with already. It’s not going to get that mass adoption that I’m positive Meta is hoping for.

TC: Do you suppose it AR will likely be extra accessible to folks than VR?

MB: That’s the place I discover it best to see helpful use instances. I keep in mind the Google Glass days, and as loopy as that product was, having turn-by-turn navigation directions simply within the nook of your imaginative and prescient when you’re strolling via an unfamiliar metropolis could be very helpful. Little stuff like that, I really discovered actually purposeful, at its core. The {hardware} was previous, and that’s 10 years in the past, so clearly tech has gotten so much higher since then. However I believe AR is less complicated for me to see as a future.

TC: What corporations do you suppose are doing AR properly?

MB: Clearly the iPhone and LiDAR. Functionally, it’s actually good, nevertheless it doesn’t do something helpful. Yeah, I can put a sofa in a room and see what it appears like, however I’m nonetheless searching for that “gotta have it” factor.

TC: Is there any tech that you just do suppose was helpful, however didn’t make it? 

MB: Google Glass is the right reply. Ten years in the past, strolling right into a bar with a digital camera in your face was insane, and now Snapchat simply made a pair of glasses with the digital camera proper on it. It’s far more acceptable.

TC: There are a whole lot of privateness debates round wearable tech — do you’ve any moral considerations round this type of tech?

MB: Effectively, you all the time hope it comes from a accountable firm that does accountable issues, which is why there may be concern with Meta. That’s all I’ll say about that! However yeah, it’s the identical as along with your cellphone — if you happen to’re doing necessary stuff in your cellphone, there will likely be a whole lot of necessary knowledge there, so privateness will likely be necessary. We hope that the businesses do the suitable factor with that knowledge.

TC: Is there any piece of tech that you just suppose extra folks ought to be speaking about?

MB: Non-Tesla EVs. They’re virtually there.

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