Last.fm already is doing very well for itself as an audio recommendation service, and the word coming through the grapevine suggests video recommendation is coming up. I wonder how this will compete with YouTube and their already existing “Related” section (I think “Related” videos share tags with the video you’re watching), if it will be similar to Last.fm software but with an integrated Flash video player, if it will incorporate YouTube/related sites or compete with them, etc. Speculating on that is a waste of time when it will be here soon enough.
I guess the bigger question is what this does to Last.fm as a brand. Is not the “.fm” a play on radio? I think it’s better for a company in this space to focus narrowly, as Last.fm has already done, to perfect its product and become the clear market leader before expanding its services. I’m not sure if they’re the leader what with Pandora in the same space, but maybe they’re figuring the race is so tight with Pandora now that’s is the perfect time to introduce this as a solution for video along with audio among their existing users and for those who are on the fence about Last.fm vs. Pandora or who use both (I still use both, although I’m gravitating toward Last.fm).
Since Last.fm’s recommendation service can operate strictly on technology (with help from their users, of course) while Pandora’s requires human editorial (lots of man hours), it’s not a leap that’s easy for Pandora to make, but for Last.fm it is. It’s an issue worth following and to see how it affects both businesses.