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uTube cashes in on YouTube traffic

Company that saw its site flooded by people looking for YouTube hopes some will at least buy a ringtone

Angered initially by the case of mistaken identity, uTube.com has now decided to make the most of the traffic it receives from people mixing up its site with the world's No.1 video destination.

Since 1985, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, has sold tube, pipe and rollforming machinery. But Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube's president, told Red Herring on Monday the company will now cater to lost YouTube fans by branching into a completely different market: ring tones.

Based in Perrysburg, Ohio, just outside Toledo, Universal Tube last November after seeing traffic spikes overwhelm its servers.

"This is an enormous expense and distraction for us," Girkins said then. "Contact with our customers has been disrupted, so I fear we have lost sales. We have even been contacted by police in Australia accusing us of having child pornography on our Web site. I resent this personally and this confusion is hurting our business."

The confusion sent uTube's traffic soaring from 1,500 visits per month to more than 2 million. YouTube now sees about 30 million monthly visitors.

Girkins told the Herring that the revenue generated by the ring tones was making enough to pay for uTube.com's hosting costs. It has a ways to go before it pays off the legal bills from the suit against YouTube, he said.