Verizon Wireless' Go90 Was Overhyped At Launch

Customers generally want their cellular devices to use their carrier to connect to the Internet and access applications, content and data that they want to, rather than stick with their carrier-branded material. However, for the carriers, they have invested a considerable sum of money in planning, developing, building and maintaining their high performance data networks and now need customers to use, and pay, for this capacity in order to make it a viable business. What better way than delivering video content to mobile devices, as video is one of the higher uses of data. Of these carriers, T-Mobile US has offered the "Binge On" service, which offers many customers as much video as they want and does not impact on their data allowances. T-Mobile US also offers a number of other content-access technologies including unlimited streaming, both with a select number of partners.

Verizon Wireless, America's largest carrier, has taken a different approach. It has launched the Go90 mobile video service and combined with this big name broadcasts, such as the NBA playoffs, in order to encourage customers to use its service. For Verizon, it has published the Go90 application and investment bank, UBS, has conducted a study showing how popular the application is on the iPhone. The report maybe condensed to a few lines: Verizon's exclusive deal with the NBA for the playoffs combined with high marketing did help the application rise to the 202nd most popular in the Apple App Store, ranked 13th against other iPhone entertainment applications, at one point earlier in the year. However, since then the application has fallen in download popularity and now sits around the 600th overall application and 40th in the entertainment sector. UBS stated that is found iOS download trends were similar to those in the Google Play Store.

From the evidence above, UBS have decreed that the Verizon Go90 "has an uphill battle if it is to become a meaningful competitor to the established mobile video and social networking leaders, namely YouTube, Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Snapchat, Netflix and Hulu." Lowell McAdam, Verizon's Chief Executive Officer, stated that Go90 was overhyped and "...and we contributed to that to some extent." He also agreed that developing popular content is "not exactly our strong suit." However, this is logical enough as Verizon is a cellular carrier and not a producer. The North American carriers have failed to monetize content despite repeatedly chasing the business, although T-Mobile's Binge On has been the most successful story so far.

One final snippet from the UBS report is that their analysis of data speeds appears to show that T-Mobile US' "Binge On" video streaming could be having an impact on data speeds. However, the source did not quantify the before and after speeds or times of day, nor do we know the breakdown of data being sent over the T-Mobile LTE network at the time, and so we cannot know the likely impact of "Binge On" for customers. One other concern, especially for Verizon shareholders, must be the story that they are looking to buy Yahoo's core business. The concern here is that Verizon is not in a position to utilize this business: T-Mobile's view is straightforward. Verizon are a telecommunications operator.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.