YouTube now offers limited downloads. Don’t get too excited. You’re not going to download the latest Metallica video yet. As of now you can download videos on President Barack Obama’s ChangeDotGov channel and from the While House.

These are the first videos directly offered by YouTube. In the past, one needed third-party software to snag content from the site. But the President’s content comes with a little blue download link beneath it. Click it and the video’s yours. There’s even a link for the inauguration speech so many people had to miss because of faulty streams.

YouTube has started to dabble in downloadable videos, offering an new download option for President-elect Barack Obama’s ChangeDotGov channel on YouTube. Keep your third-party software though because you’ll still need it for those Metallica videos.

Using the new link, you’ll get an H.264 encoded .mp4 file that will play on your computer, iPod, other portable media player, or video-capable cell phone. That’s a nice, high quality so beware that it might take a few minutes. Downloading the more than 90 MB inauguration speech took about 20 minutes. The trade off for your time though is a much higher quality video with a sharper image. Once it’s on your device, it’s viewable any size you choose.

So, perhaps your favorite YouTube videos are on their way to being portable. It makes historic content like Obama’s speech archivable by the average person. If YouTube extends the download availability to other content, it would free viewers to watch anything, at anytime, even when they have no Internet connection. It makes it easier to share favorite videos. Plus, it gives you an offline version just in case the video becomes unavailable at YouTube.

“If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re online, but you don’t always have a good connection,” Phil Leigh, senior analyst for Inside Digital Media, said in a TechNewsWorld article. “It’s clearly a step towards portability, and I think they’ve [user have] made it clear they want to be available on all screens — they want to be on the computer, portable devices and the TV.”

The references for this article include: YouTube Ushers In Change With Obama Videos, Chris Maxcer, TechNewsWorld, 01/19/09; YouTube Tests Video Downloads, Google Operating System Blog, Ionut Alex Chitu, January 17, 2009; and YouTube.

This post blogged by Carlie Lawson. She is a hazards consultant, freelance writer, and weather nerd living in Norman, OK, also known as the weather capital of the United States.


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