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12/1/2006
02:20 PM
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YouTube's Mobile Future Looks Fuzzy

It has a pact with Verizon Wireless, and it's promising more deals

Video has a promising future on mobile phones. But it's hard to imagine that future will look much like the deal Verizon Wireless struck with YouTube last week.

Worth watching on a phone?

Worth watching on a phone?
Starting this month, Verizon customers who pay $15 a month for the company's V Cast video service also can pick from a limited selection of videos from Google-owned YouTube. Or they can pay for a $3 daily pass. Will people pay for a limited version of YouTube? Probably not many, predicts Gartner analyst Tole Hart.

The major U.S. cellular carriers are spending billions of dollars upgrading to third-generation wireless networks so they can offer multimedia services such as video and music downloads. T-Mobile is the latest to join the 3G race, partnering with Nokia and Ericsson earlier last week to build its network.

Carriers don't have the business model down. Getting a big-name partner isn't always enough. Case in point is Mobile ESPN, a mobile virtual network operator that failed despite its fresh sports content and a killer brand.

The deal with Verizon Wireless is YouTube's first major mobile pact, but it promises many other partnerships. The price seems steep to watch a limited video supply on a tiny screen. But who thought people would pay $2 to $3 for a 15-second ring tone? Let the video experiments begin.

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