So Verizon Wireless confirmed the speculation this morning of its deal to offer the equivalent of YouTube lite — select, approved content — through its VCast service. The deal is big news because the size of the companies involved, but this particular agreement is really just about trying to bring YouTube’s cool-factor branding to Verizon’s expensive and unhip VCast service.
There are actually a lot of user-generated mobile video services available both on and off carriers decks. They just don’t have YouTube’s big name yet. Here are a few we’ve checked out recently (if you have any more, add them to the list):
Off deck, meaning available over the mobile web, and not a featured service on the carrier menu:
Tinytube.net: Every time we write about about mobile video someone adds Tinytube.net in the comments — probably the people from the company. But it’s actually pretty compelling. The mobile web site aggregates what it says are 9 featured video clips from YouTube sorted by “score.” They have choices like “low, medium, high, and streaming” to play the video and chances to watch more from that user or “similar clips.” This services seems like it will be a lot more true to what YouTube users want on a mobile phone, than the Verizon, YouTube deal. Though, how they intend to make money? I’m not sure. We’ll find out more about these guys.
MyWaves: Check out our discussion of startup MyWave’s mobile video service here and the other startups that are vying for this space.
Mobango: The service has a mobile web locker where you can store mobile content including videos and then download onto your phone. It’s surprisingly easy to use and get any content from your PC to mobile. It’s basically the free ringtone model, just with new mobile content added (Mixxer is trying to do the same thing) and rightly so there’s been a lot of speculation about the copy right issues.
Treemo: This mobile content sharing service was also easy to use to download and share video content on my phone. Maybe the biggest drawback is the lack of interesting content on the site — they encourage “creative, inspired” content from a hard-to-pin down group of users. Where’s the bad singing videos and car crash content?
On Deck, meaning carriers feature and promote this content:
iFilm Viral Video Channel, available through MobiTV, including Sprint and Cingular’s video services: If you remember iFilm was bought by Viacom last year, and with the rumors about the Verizon/YouTube deal we recently decided to test out this service. The way it works is that iFilm selects content from its 20 most popular clips and submits it to MobiTV in weekly blocks. We’ve been watching gems like “Minivan gets struck by lightning,” “When Chimps Attack News Anchor,” and a variety of bad karaoke renditions.
The companies say the service has been available for around 6 months, and that “user-generated content” is part of the offering. When it comes to approving content MobiTV says both they and IFilm “filter and provide the best of the best.” I didn’t get a chance to interview any of the executives involved but I am curious to know how many people are actually watching this on cell phones and what are the actual guidelines for “approved” and “filtered” content.