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First Look: StumbleUpon Announces New Video Surfing Site, StumbleVideo

If you’re familiar with StumbleUpon, the web surfing toolbar, you’ve probably spent countless hours hitting the “stumble” button and discovering sites that are eerily tailored towards your taste.

Taking that same concept, StumbleUpon has launched StumbleVideo, a web site that allows visitors to “surf” video content from MySpace, Google Video and YouTube, using the same technology used by the popular toolbar.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with StumbleUpon’s VP of Marketing, David Feller, and get a sneak peak at the new service. Unfortunately for me, it’s equally as addictive as the toolbar, and now I fear I’ll waste many afternoon hours viewing content that matches my interests.

For those of you not familiar with StumbleUpon, it’s a fast growing community founded in 2001, with 1.6 million people “Stumbling” roughly 4 million times each day. When joining, users select topics of interest and then asked to rate web sites presented to them, with a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down”. Users can also share their favorites, view their friends’ content, tag and submit new web pages.

With the launch of StumbleVideo, the company is betting that people will enjoy discovering new videos in the very same way, and spend even more time “channel surfing”. “People demand instant access to online video content that’s personally gratifying, and they don’t want to spend all day looking for it. That’s where StumbleUpon fits in,” says Feller. “StumbleVideo allows people to discover great videos they would likely never find using traditional keyword searches. The experience is like channel surfing through video content that is laser-targeted to your tastes.”

Using the service is easy, in fact, new users don’t even need to register or install anything. Simply point your favorite browser to www.stumblevideo.com and use the integrated flash video player to start the surfing experience. You can immediately start rating the videos shown and let StumbleVideo learn from your preferences and find tune what gets shown to you next. Feller tells us, once a user has viewed “75-100” videos, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll be interested in joining the community, so at that point StumbleVideo will prompt you to register and save your preferences.

While the interface is slick and the concept novel, there are some things yet to be developed. The standalone web site is not currently integrated with the toolbar and so it will be interesting to see how well StumbleVideo does outside of the interface that is tried and tested. There’s also no way to share the videos other than an email form. One thing that makes videos popular is the ability to embed them in blogs and other web sites. StumbleVideo is not itself hosting unique content, so we’ll likely see some resistance from them, as providing the embeding script takes the content away from the Stumble interface.

There’s also the question of what reaction MySpace, YouTube and Google will have to their content being displayed by a competing video provider. While StumbleVideo doesn’t have any direct relationships with the content providers (Feller says they are working on it), they are using the APIs provided by each of the video hosts. This arrangement should be acceptable, after all, why provide an API, if you don’t want companies to develop mash-ups. However, it would certainly be in Stumble’s best interests to establish formal syndication relationships ASAP, just in case Google or MySpace decides not to share their toys or place limits on the API.

Overall, it’s a great feature and very much as addictive as the toolbar. Whether users will be as willing to “stumble” video as much as they are web pages, is something we’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has two video interviews with the Stumble crew, including this one on StumbleVideo.