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Video sharing site YouTube looks set to expand from the web onto mobile phones, with speculation that a deal with telecoms firm Verizon is close to agreement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "advanced" talks are taking place between the companies to bring YouTube's videos to mobile phones and TV.

Under the new deal, YouTube videos could become available as part of an on-demand TV service it plans to launch in the US, while Verizon's mobile customers will be able to view YouTube content through the V Cast service.

This partnership could move both Verizon and YouTube into new markets and is yet another example of the increasing convergence between telecoms and the internet.

YouTube, which has fast become a popular way to share video online, is having a good run of luck lately. After Google recently shelled out $1.65bn for the site, it has now been named invention of the year by Time magazine.

The site scooped the award in favour of a vaccine to prevent a cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection, a T-shirt that simulates the feeling of being hugged, and the CrustaStun, a device that can electrocute a lobster in five seconds.

According to Time, YouTube's popularity and sheer size has altered the way information is disseminated online, deeming it worthy of the award. Last year's winner was a cloned puppy called Snuppy.

In more good news, Google's acquisition of YouTube was given the go-ahead on Monday, leaving nothing to stand in the way of Google taking over the website and expanding its video offerings.

It seems to have been a case of right time, right place for YouTube, with the growth in popularity of blogs and the affordable nature of recording equipment such as mobile phones. According to Nielsen NetRatings figures, YouTube attracted some 27.6m unique visitors in September, an indication of just how popular the website has become.

Since Google made its bid, the tech giant has put in some serious work to strike deals with Vivendi, Warner and Sony BMG in a bid to stave off possible lawsuits over copyright infringement on the site.

However, it hasn't all been good news for the site. YouTube has recently come under fire for publishing footage of a vicious attack on a girl from Ballymun in Dublin, Ireland. The assault was passed around mobile phones for some time before it finally made an appearance in YouTube. The footage has since been removed, but not before it was downloaded thousands of times by the site's users.

The amount of money paid by Google for YouTube has also been the source of much speculation, as YouTube - although hugely popular - could not be described as a money-spinning venture prior to the buy-out.

This potential deal with Verizon, however, could boost YouTube's popularity even further. The possibilities for its parent company Google, it seems, are endless.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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