Verizon's Harrobin: Integration harder than expected


Verizon's Harrobin: Integration harder than expected

Qualcomm's largest BREW platform customer, Verizon Wireless, took the stage on the last day of Qualcomm's BREW conference in San Diego on Friday to provide an update on Verizon's Get It Now content delivery system. But the talk had a decidedly different tone than in years past, perhaps because Verizon's John Harrobin, senior vice president of marketing and digital media, took the stage instead of John Stratton, the former CMO of Verizon Wireless, who was promoted to EVP and CMO of Verizon last fall. Harrobin, in my opinion, is an approachable guy with a down-to-earth attitude.

Nevertheless, I was surprised when Harrobin admitted that Verizon hadn't delivered on all the promises that it made at last year's BREW conference. I had been wondering what happened with BREW Zone, but I really didn't expect Verizon to admit that it hadn't succeeded in this area. This was a big departure for the typically over-confident carrier.

In 2006 Stratton told the BREW audience about how Verizon was going to streamline its crowded deck and eliminate silos of content. He also said that Verizon would launch BREW Zone, a move that would allow the carrier to sell its content off portal through the Web site and other approved off-portal storefronts.

It's been more than a year since Stratton delivered that message and there's still no BREW Zone, nor has Verizon significantly eliminated its content silos. "We are disappointed," Harrobin said. "We want to sell more content but integration is harder than we expected."

The Verizon executive, however, did say that the company is still working on BREW Zone and the firm will deliver on it in the future--however, he refused to give an exact date for the launch.

Nevertheless, Harrobin did use the BREW conference as an opportunity to tout the company's progress in other areas. He said that Verizon's relationship with ESPN and the launching of the MVP app has been extremely successful. In fact, he said that Verizon signed up more customers for the MVP app in its first week of offering the sports content than ESPN did in its entire lifespan as an MVNO.

He also called upon developers to work on a better MMS barcode ticketing solution. He said when Verizon recently announced that pop star Fergie's concert tour, the company sent everyone who had bought Fergie content a text asking them if they wanted to see her live in concert. Those who responded with a yes, received a ticket via MMS. "This enables cross-merchandising of tickets and music," Harrobin said. "It enables artists and the label to tap into the fan base."

However, he noted that this process, while very innovative, cannot scale in its current form. "Who will deliver the answer?" Harrobin asked. "This category is ripe. Stop investing in ringtones and horoscopes and work on retail and couponing. We want help in this area." - Sue