The talk of the town today (recommended reading: IP Democracy, PhoneScoop, TechCrunch) is the announcement that Verizon and YouTube are doing a deal. Quick summary: you have to be a VCast subscriber and from the NY Times:
YouTube said its editors would select short videos from its library for the Verizon Wireless service. Verizon Wireless said it would vet the videos to make sure they met the company’s editorial and taste guidelines.
“We’ll select content that has the broadest appeal and the highest entertainment value,” Ms. Liang said.
The funniest read on it so far comes from fellow Canadian Mathew Ingram:
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.
Now I agree with this as lame, but not for the same reasons as others. Fred wrote “This deal violates the entire ethos of YouTube, not free, not open, exclusive, no community, limited, censorship, etc, etc.” and over on LostRemote I read “I don’t see this as being an especially tempting offering – it goes against the free spirit attitude of YouTube.” These are fair points, but not what I perceive as the most important flaw in the plan.
People don’t surf to YouTube because it’s free or open, nor because of the site’s free spirit. Actually, people don’t really surf to YouTube much at all. Whoa, slow down – I know they serve a kajillion videos a day (or is that bajillion?). What’s key about all this is how people use YouTube.
They share. They link. They blog. They email. They don’t surf.
When YouTube serves 200,000 streams of a video, it’s not because 200,000 people come over to YouTube.com, and go find videos to watch. It’s because people were sent there by friends, colleagues, and blogs. YouTube is viral, not programmed. And that’s the key flaw in the Verizon/YouTube relationship.
They should scrap the budget on the ‘editors’ and instead invest on building a simple technology that allows people to SMS the clips they watch to each other. Not only will this increase usage of the service, it’ll also increase SMS traffic (something the carriers like a lot) and will also help incent new users to pay for VCast.