There’s been a torrent of criticism over the YouTube / Verizon deal announced yesterday.Â Fred Wilson calls it lame, and Om Malik moans that the cellular providersÂ walled garden will never come down.Â
The deal with the devil, for those who don’t know yet, is simply this: for $15 per month, Verizon customers will be able to download selected YouTube videos to their cell phones.Â Verizon and YouTube will maintain editorial control, deciding which videos are available and which not.
Critics fear that this will destroy the ethos of YouTube.Â And never mind that $15 per month is a stupidly expensive price for the service.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with BBTV –Â a service provided by Rogers and RIM that lets you download summaries of the day’s news to your Blackberry.Â For five dollars per month, it provides three (count ’em, three!) video clips daily of approximately 60 to 90 seconds duration summarizing news, the world news, and sports.Â It takes 3 to 5 minutes to download each clip, depending on the cellular connection.
It’sÂ totally lame.Â A complete and utter ripoff of the consumer, it may be theÂ single most disappointing thing I have ever bought in my entire life.Â Old news, managed by an editorial board that chooses what I get to see, and a carrier who overcharges me for the content.
Let’s be clear, though.Â The YouTube / Verizon deal is just a co-marketing deal.Â It’s a last gasp of idiotic old-skoolÂ telco thinking seeping into the internet, because YouTube doesn’t needÂ Verizon to reach the customer on a handset.Â Every current model mobile phone I’ve got — fromÂ Blackberry to Nokia N-Series — can play video and connect to the net.Â You don’t need Verizon to download video off the net.Â Â Moreover, Flash forÂ mobile will shortly have the ability to play video, if it doesn’tÂ already.Â It’s just a matter of time before video sites like YouTube and Revver start toÂ publish video optimizedÂ for the mobile handset.
A while back an asteroid called the Internet crashed into Planet Wireless.Â It’s taking a while for the secondary weather effects to be felt, but the dinosaurs in control of those networks will eventually die.Â Until then, legions of bright young MBAs toiling in obscurity in the bowelsÂ of marketing departments at these behemothsÂ will be doing their best to keep resuscitating the lizards…