YouTube goes (partly) wireless

Lisa Napoli Nov 28, 2006

BOB MOON: Imagine you’ve got a service that’s not, well, catching on the way you wish it would. What better way to draw attention to it than to hop into a partnership with the hottest thing out there. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli takes a look now at the deal announced today between a cell phone giant and the online video service everyone’s been talking about.

LISA NAPOLI: Verizon is hoping some of YouTube’s luster will rub off on its burgeoning video service. The nation’s largest mobile carrier announced today it will carry selected YouTube clips so you can watch them on your phone.

Amol Sharma of the Wall Street Journal predicts though it hasn’t quite happened yet, video’s the next big thing for the cell phone business:

AMOL SHARMA: That’s gonna be their bread and butter in the future, as the voice revenues on cell phones keeps going down.

But Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post says this is a dumb way to do it. Browsing videos is what YouTube’s all about, not having some executives filter them for you.

ROB PEGORARO: The whole point of YouTube is the stuff that takes you by surprise, the weird things, the completely out-of-left-field stuff.

Others say the Verizon You Tube deal is just a baby step in the emerging medium of cell phone video. Mobile analyst Kanishka Agarawal says the mobile phone is the third screen, after the TV and the computer. Agarwal says it’s got advantages over those other two — what he calls opportunistic viewing:

AGARWAL KANISHKA: You will be in a line suddenly and want to kill some time, or on a train, and you just want to watch something really quickly for a matter of a few minutes.

If you’re in the camp who doesn’t get why you’d ever want to watch anything on your phone, maybe you’re just not the demographic:

The number of subscribers to mobile video services has doubled since the start of the year.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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