Dear Ms. Smartphone: My phone and I are inseparable this month! So, I was wondering would ‘DearSmartphone’ add Quibi to the daily routine? My girlfriend finds the videos entertaining and watches them regularly during Quibi’s free trial. I am worried that if I start using watching it could become addictive and I will be spending yet more time on my small screen. Jacob, Mill Valley
Dear Jacob: When Quibi offers Dear Smartphone a contract for a live weekly show, I will surely be encouraging you to watch it regularly. For those who have not heard, Quibi is a platform that provides TV-like content in attention-grabbing eight to ten minute mini bites for phones. It is a large expensive arranged marriage between Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
To answer your question I downloaded the free version of Quibi with ads. There was no opportunity to onboard and the content jumped to a slick ad for Pepsi Lite . Then I was shown an eight minute thriller about a blond haired lady from LA, driving Uber, texting as she drove. Quibi certainly got my demographics and interests spot-on, but it was a real no-no in 2020 to depict someone so clueless to text while driving. An old-fashioned out-dated view.
Since Quibi had my interests pinned, I wondered if Quibi had access to my digital wallet and receipts? Would they know if I purchased Pepsi Lite or a similar beverage? Here Quibi could find its Orwellian moment: a perfect tracking vehicle for advertisers. I watched more content and found, like your girlfriend, that some of it was entertaining- a fast video version of People magazine. I often liked the ads more than the show, just like Super-Bowl ad trailers.
But, your question about addiction and spending more time on the phone is the real issue. Recall the wit of Marshall McLuhan who coined that ‘the medium is the message (or massage).* Since the very start Bell Phones have been used for two-way communications, business, and relationship building. We continue that convention today through Instagram, Facebook, text, and voice. Quibi, meanwhile, plays like a throw-back to one-way cinema.
There’s already a video competitor called Tik-Toc. Not yet my skill-set but it is said to make video on the phone two-way, interactive and “fun”. So, read the review from TechCrunch, and first decide how you want to allocate your time. Then, if you wish, sharpen your video watching, video producing skills.