It's tough to watch. Verizon is having a full-on midlife crisis right in front of our very eyes. The telltale warning signs are all there. Verizon is:
- Eyeing shiny new things (AOL, AwesomenessTV, Complex Media, Yahoo!)
- Getting new clothes (Wait, is the new logo different from the old one?)
- Idealizing the past (“the subsidy model has served the wireless industry well” – Verizon CFO)
- Contemplating a career change / questioning its purpose (They really want to do something other than wireless and wireline service, and they’ll spend a lot chasing that dream!)
- Flirting with younger people (Fact: Verizon talked about "the millennials" every 5 minutes on average in their last earnings call. Another Fact: That's creepy.)
And most tellingly, Verizon is blowing the inheritance. Verizon has made boat loads of money by punishing, penalizing and overcharging wireless customers for years. And they’re burning through that money – more than $5.52 billion and counting in the past 2.5 years – trying to become a cool kid.
Verizon really wants to be a content company. They have Netflix envy. And YouTube envy. And HBO envy. So, they're buying advertising technology and mobile content studios and everything that sounds like "the millennials" might like it - all to create Go90, a mobile video app Wired famously called, "The Service That No One Asked For". For all that effort, Go90 currently occupies the #400ish download spot in the iOS app store.
There are a LOT better ways Verizon could spend that money than a failing app no one wants or needs. They could focus on their customers, end overage penalties, give customers free international roaming, let customers rollover unused data or unleash unlimited video and music. Just to name a few.
But if Verizon doesn’t want to spend its treasure chest on customers, here’s a few other ways Verizon could’ve better spent that $5.52 billion.