Verizon: Stupid, stupid, stupid

by Mathew on November 28, 2006 · 20 comments

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 don’t have connections to cellular operators, you’ll literally need to buy them just to get a shot. It’s an old boys club and the whole industry is just trying to keep control of the closed system they’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 “approval” which is a euphemism for “hell to freeze over.”

Yup. Sounds about right.

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  • Rob Hyndman

    But what do you really think? :)

  • Pingback: LIVEdigitally by Jeremy Toeman » Blog Archive » YouTube on VCast is the wrong approach for Mobile YouTube

  • engtech

    The cellphone industry has their head up their arses in an amazing way when it comes to everything.

    Case in point: still charged by the KILOBYTE for data usage. With EDGE phones.

  • DrumsNWhistles

    The whole wireless company structure is driving me nuts. I have Cingular, who tells you that you can access the Web with their Razr and then makes it so difficult that it’s worthless, unless, of course, you want to shell out the 46 bucks a month for their EDGE/GSM services, which of course if you do, will also require that you upgrade to one of the Windows Mobile, Palm or Blackberries they have available, etc etc ad infinitum.

    The cellular companies could benefit from a disruptive competitor who came in and shifted around the fee/rate structures, i think. Or at least, consumers might.


  • Mathew Ingram

    I couldn’t agree more, Drums. It’s a bit of a cartel here in Canada too, when you get right down to it. Reminds me of the Internet access business in the early days.

  • Vera Bass

    Love this post, Mathew.

    The telephone companies have an advantage to exploit in terms of delivery systems. Why are they futzing around with content models???


  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks Vera. That’s a good question. I think they are afraid of losing the kind of control that has been a big part of their business models for so long.

  • howard lindzon

    Some link love from Canada. Yessss.

    I would prefer wallstrip but i will take it :)

    78 degrees here in Phoenix. Almost cardigan weather.

  • Vera Bass

    Mathew …ya think?
    The phone company doesn’t know from free?

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    Needless to say, Mathew, that France follows the same stupid way … We also have a cartel with same private game preserve… Wanna help for another French Revolution ? ;-) I need each and every willing person.
    Crickeely, LVG

  • Mathew Ingram

    My thoughts are with you and your countrymen, Laurent. Merci pour votre comment.

  • idk

    I think its funny how easy these companies are going to make it to get taken over. All you need is a smart consumer oriented businessman to start a company and everyone will switch. Is there honestly anyone who likes their phone company?

  • nathaly

    thank you i noe wat you mean verizon cant get any stupider than this it is stupid stupid STUPID STUPID!!!!!!!!!

  • nathaly

    thank you i noe wat you mean verizon cant get any stupider than this it is stupid stupid STUPID STUPID!!!!!!!!!

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