In late 1999, I worked closely with the AFL-CIO to defend German workers targeted by Vodafone in their takeover bid for Mannesmann’s cell phone business. Vodafone argued that so-called 3G technology would make the billions they proposed to spend on the deal worth it. Seven years later, 3G is still largely unavailable and Vodafone lost tens of billions in shareholder value on the deal. Oh, and their CEO is history. The AFL-CIO predicted all this with pretty impressive accuracy.
Fast forward to today’s digital distribution environment for the entertainment industry and we have news of another flameout as Google announces that its video download service has failed. Now Google hopes that it can make a go of the billion or two its spent to buy You Tube (plagued by its own intellectual property rights concerns as it faces lawsuits from content providers). RIght now, the DVD biz is looking pretty good.