Beginning today, people who sign up for YouTube will be given a Google account. Given that Google has owned the popular video service since 2006, it is a little surprising that this happened in the past, but it certainly makes sense that they would do it sooner or later. Note: I am not yet seeing an indication of this news on the YouTube sign up page, but I assume it’s in the process of rolling out.
It's a smart move because it opens the door to other Google services that YouTube users may not have otherwise been privy to or taken the time to acknowledge. Things like iGoogle, Google Reader and Google Docs for example.
Really, the move could provide a tremendous boost to Google's social media efforts, which it has seemingly been taking much more seriously lately. As I've discussed before (though I cited Gmail as the central point), Google itself has kind of been a social network for years, and many just haven't realized it.
Now in recent weeks, they have put much more emphasis on the Google Profile, which is now showing up in search results, and offers the option of vanity URLs for easier visibility. YouTube has long been a huge social network (not to mention the 2nd largest search engine). Why not incorporate that more into the rest of Google? It's arguably the company's biggest and most well-branded social media entity.
Users can still sign up for YouTube with any email address, and they'll still pick a unique username. "So why are we doing this?" asks James Philips of the YouTube Team. "We feel that by jointly connecting accounts, you can take greater advantage of our services both on YouTube and on Google, especially as we start to roll out new features in the future that will be powered by Google technology."
Those who already have a YouTube account but no Google account will still be able to enjoy YouTube just the same, but Philips says they will be rolling out features that will require a Google account in the future. Such features are not elaborated on, but I am very eager to see what these will be.
I would not be surprised to see a prominent YouTube link start showing up on Google alongside things like web, images, maps, news, and Gmail. There is already one for video that goes to Google video of course, but I have often pondered why YouTube would not be featured here. It's obviously the more popular video engine.