A couple of years ago, only computer geeks had heard of YouTube. But now the video sharing website has become such a global phenomenon it even has its own version of the Oscars.
Last week the website announced the winners of the YouTube Video Awards, showing how far the site has come since its conception in 2005.
Three former employees of PayPal came up with the idea for the website in February of that year and set up their fledgling business in a tiny garage office. The company was bought by Google in November, and now claims to have 70 million hits a day.
Just why do we love it so much? Daniel Booth, deputy editor of internet magazine Webuser, says the website’s popularity is based on being so simple to use.
"It’s extremely easy to put videos up, and it’s mind-bogglingly easy to actually go on and view them, an absolute doddle," he says.
"It’s more than just television online because it’s so much more instant. You know for a fact that if something interesting happens on TV on Tuesday night, it will be on YouTube on Wednesday morning.
YouTube’s content is a combination of user-generated content – all those embarrasing grabs of people messing about in their bedrooms – and TV segments that people feel are too good not to share, Booth says.
"The key is that it is on demand and it opens everything up – it’s a global television service. It works on so many different levels – it’s nostalgia, it’s international, it’s user-generated and it’s instant.
"It’s almost patronising now to expect consumers to be restricted to TV schedules. Everything should be on demand because the technology exists, and YouTube has pushed that forward, so it’s an incredibly important site."