I know that Forrest Gump said “Stupid is as stupid does,” but there’s really no other word for what Verizon is doing with its much-heralded launch of YouTube video on cellphones. I mean, really. How much stupider could this get? The answer, to paraphrase Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap, is none — none stupider. Fred Wilson sums it up in a single word: Lame. In fact, this deal is right off the lame-o-meter. How do I lame-ify thee? Let me count the ways.
Watching video clips on your cellphone would be great, right? Except that Verizon will only let you watch them if you subscribe to a monthly service called VCast. And YouTube is great because of all the cool videos on there, right? Except that Verizon will select some for you to watch, rather than letting you do the selecting. As Rob Pegoraro notes in the Washington Post, this is just reproducing the broken cable model on a cellphone.
Howard Lindzon says that Verizon’s new slogan should be “We uncool your brand,” which is both hilarious and right on the money. If this is a sign of the kind of crap Google is going to do now that it owns YouTube, then that $1.6-billion in stock is going to get obliterated pretty quickly. Michael Parekh says that “incumbent businesses keep adopting the same myopic, warped business strategies that failed the last time around,” and my friend Mark Evans has some thoughts as well.
On a somewhat related note, I came across a post from David Cohen of Colorado Startups (hat tip to Leigh Himel of Oponia) about a failed startup he was involved in called iContact, which tried to create a social-networking platform for mobile phones. Here’s what he had to say in part:
The mobile industry is full of pitfalls. If you donâ€™t have connections to cellular operators, youâ€™ll literally need to buy them just to get a shot. Itâ€™s an old boys club and the whole industry is just trying to keep control of the closed system theyâ€™ve put together.
Open APIs are really only open to partners, revenue shares feel like hostage situations, and network aware or location based applications sit in queues waiting for â€œapprovalâ€ which is a euphemism for â€œhell to freeze over.â€
Yup. Sounds about right.