Mobile TV & Video

Thursday, 28 April 2005

Marriage of TV and video phones?

This post from Monique van Dusseldorp gives a good example of how video phones can be used in television programming. I expect more of these programmes to come in the near future.

"In Italy, not only have almost 1 million 3G mobile video phones made their way to the audience, Telecom Italia has also heavily promoted its fixed-line video phones, of which 1.9 million so far have been sold (410,000 of those with a wi-fi connection). Add those with broadband connections and webcams, and you have a huge audience able to make video calls. On Telecom Italia's broadband portal, Rosso Alice, the community channel making use of this gained a quick following. The channel includes a 24-hour video chat community, with local heroes broadcasting their own shows, but also offers eight hours of live television per day. In the programs, those with a video phone or webcam can interact with the TV hosts, sing songs, tell jokes, provide cinema reviews, etc. The caller's video image is visible on screen, next to or behind the hosts, who sit in a Flash-produced digital studio."

Saturday, 23 April 2005

Internet video and film update

The multimedia era is arriving big time on the Internet...on a broader scale than ever before. Generation Content delivers home-made movies shot increasingly with their mobile phones. This article from Wired News digs into the competitive landscape of video/film service providers and search engines. Expect the rise of websites with recommendation engines, search, RSS, tagging and blogging for videos, social software, reviews and ratings on video/film all combined. And expect a short list of successful videos to be delivered on and through P2P networks (even paid in some cases), DVD, mobile portals, WISP portals, DTV and IP TV in the near future. And expect cross media formats to use the quality videos and films. And expect some videos to be used in commercials for advertisers (see this post on Open Source Marketing). AtomFilm and iFilm were the pioneers in this respect but this market will fragment increasingly before consolidating. At this moment the leading portals Google, MSN and Yahoo seem to have a strong edge while rising stars like BitTorrent, MySpace, Friendster, OurMedia, Flickr/Yahoo and LunarStorm are on the radar screen as well for collecting all this material.

"We want to make uploading a video as easy as blogging," Cheng said. Participatory Culture, she said, plans to make a publishing tool integrated with the file-sharing network BitTorrent available in a few weeks. Ifilm's Harrison also envisions strong demand shaping up for services that will help people navigate a seemingly bottomless supply of video content. "If I'm faced with a programming universe of literally thousands of channels, it becomes effectively useless to flick through a channel lineup. People will develop guides and bookmarks to navigate from their own perspective," he said. Harrison says it remains unclear who will provide the guides and bookmarks. The big portals, with their vast reach, are well-poised to help internet users navigate the video universe. However, it's also quite possible that a "small, smart newcomer" could take established players by surprise."

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Mobile content or mobile communications?

Hollywood is trying to impose their business models and restrictions onto the mobile Internet space. This article reinforces the current debates among Hollywood versus different P2P networks like Grokster ((lawsuits), Creative Commons versus copyrights/DRM and the great Mobile Internet Manifesto by Howard Rheingold advocating an open mobile Internet instead of a walled garden approach by mobile operators. An open mobile Internet will also be more condusive to The Long Tail. My guess will be that all these sides will be represented in the fixed and mobile space for a long time, side by side...fluctuating over time but gradually move to the open/sharing model. Personally, I believe most value in mobile data/content will be based on different applications of GeoWeb and Augmented Reality and mobile social software, both from the end user as well as mobile operator perspective. All these concepts can trigger increased traffic on mobile networks. Mobile content from mainstream companies will be adopted slowly (music might be an exception due to the mobile setting) but it will only be a minor part relative to bottom-up, self-organized end user initiatives enabling better communications and sharing. An elaborate article from Gerrit Visser substantiates this view incorporating the Smart Mob book from Howard Rheingold.

"The problem is that they've learned the wrong lessons from the Internet. They think that broadcast-style content was slow to take off on the Internet because they didn't have control over things and couldn't lock it down. However, the real reason is that the Internet is a communications platform -- not a broadcast one. People go online to communicate, not to consume broadcast content. The same thing is true of the mobile Internet -- which is only going to merge more and more with the existing Internet as time goes on. With a communications platform you want to encourage people to communicate. That means sharing content, not making it harder to share content. It means freeing up the ability to communicate by whatever means necessary -- not locking it down so that only a few approved broadcast channels can be accessed."

Thursday, 24 March 2005

Tangible interfaces, NFC and mobile phones

Tangible interfaces in the future. Nice. Saves time indeed. NFC as a short range technology also allows for temporarily sharing of content with others as to avoid DRM issues.

"What exactly is a tangible interface? We're looking at how touch can be used to execute a number of tasks or interactions so you don't have to switch contexts from the real world to the world inside the screen. For instance, one person could touch his device to someone else's and give them a "digital gift," to borrow a phrase from our old boss Marko Ahtisaari. That digital gift might be something as simple as a URL or a photo that I've taken of a moment we just shared. To set up a swap over Bluetooth might take twenty or thirty clicks. This completes the interaction with one touch. Although, for security purposes, we also have a confirm button. There's something very human about giving someone a gift while looking them in the eye and touching the devices together instead of both people squirreling away in the interfaces trying to do the data exchange."

Monday, 14 March 2005

CEBIT 2005: Mobile TV update 4

Interesting update from the CEBIT event on mobile TV. I agree totally on the interactivity part of the story. However, TiVo-like recording functionality on a mobile phone seems like a niche market to me. Why? Because most end users will in my view prefer to record on their TV PVR instead of their mobile PVR. I believe live TV over DVB-H or DMB might be more interesting on mobile phones instead of recorded TV considering the immediacy USP of mobile phones (see my previous posts on mobile TV and video), exceptions being situations in which the mobile user won't be able to view the TV content on their TV for a long time due to travelling issues and in which the nature of the TV content is compelling enough to see it quickly after the live event. That is, TV content with high social-emotional value.

"The DMB and DVB-H technologies are more compelling than streams over UMTS for the time being, since they offer users the ability to harness the broadcasts by recording them and playing them back on their own schedule. The key to mobile video won't be just broadcasting live TV on its own, it will be offering users personal media. While TV on a mobile remains a novel concept, there will come a point when users won't be satisfied with watching anything just because it's available -- they'll want more control over what they're presented with. That's some functionality they'll likely have no problem paying for."

Friday, 11 March 2005

Mobile entertainment or intertainment?

"A playful mobile device need not entrap its owner within its own RAM. Rather, it can connect the owner with other people, the environment, or the temporal reality in new ways. Who is available? What is around me? What's going on right now? Instead of enter-taining, these devices might do better to inter-tain us -- that is, hold our connection to other people, places and things. The mobile intertainment device depends not on captivation, but on introduction, orientation, and interconnection. Although very few companies are conceiving of mobile fun in this way, the early interest in services from UPOC and Dodgeball prove that people are seeking a different sort of fun through their phones -- a fun that involves experiences with other subscribers rather than some company's content. Even information portals like Vindigo and Avantgo base their success less on what they provide themselves and more on how these pointers direct users to things in the real world that they want or need. A restaurant or movie recommendation is not the entertainment itself. It's intertainment to entertainment. Finally, self-publishing services like, which allow people to post moblogs and cell phone photos, promise a lot more than entrancement -- they allow expression and connectivity. Indeed, there are a range of ways to have fun that may not involve what is traditionally known as entertainment."

Douglas Rushkoff hits the spot in this nice article on mobile entertainment/intertainment. I agree totally. See my previous posts on mobile cameraphones, mobile social software, mobile video and TV. Mobile phones are more about communications and connecting relative to traditional entertainment, even though there will be a place for the latter in niche contexts combined with its social value/viral context.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

CEBIT 2005: new innovations

"Samsung had the biggest news of the day with the announcement of its 7 megapixel cameraphone -- or its 7-megapixel camera with a cellular radio, depending on how you look at it, and it will also be showing off a 5-megapixel handset with an optical zoom, as well as a "MusicPhone" with a 3-gigabyte hard drive. This technical innovation is impressive, fantastic even -- for now. But it won't be long before these features, like others before them, become commoditized and standardized across different handsets and manufacturers. But there's still a great deal of work that can, and needs to, be done in software and services. It's a point that bears repeating: what good is a powerful device that's impossible to use?"

Nice innovations but the last comment is key. More in this article. Even though MMS usage is rising considerably the last two quarters around Europe, there still is loads to improve and spur adoption. I believe most pictures taken by mobile phones will be for personal archiving and offline social purposes, just like Howard Rheingold recently said in a post on The Feature. However, I believe there is a room for upside potential in social sharing of pictures considering the decreasing prices, better usability and interoperability. Additionally, I believe the days of normal digital cameras are counted considering the impressive 7 megapixel phones coming, especially with optical zoom.

Tuesday, 08 March 2005

Mobile TV update 3

"Wheelock supports mobile TV, thinking that people's fundamental "desire to have anytime, anywhere access" to TV will drive demand. And he is sure the quality of the services will improve. But he and other analysts admit cellular networks will get to a point where they will not be able to support multiple audio-visual streams without impairing voice calls and other traffic on the network. This is where the mobile broadcast networks come in -- networks to go live in the United States and Europe by late 2006, or early 2007. According to Pyramid Research, it costs between $150,000 and $400,000 to set up a cell site from scratch. A U.S. operator might have 25,000 cell sites. Add mobile broadcast capabilities, and the cost could be between $4 billion and $10 billion. That's a lot of money, especially if it is already possible to get TV on the go with services like TiVo, Orb Networks or some other do-it-yourself magic like video podcasting. "The question is whether (demand) justifies a huge investment," said Patel at Strategy Analytics. The answer, he says, is "no.""

Nice article on mobile TV and video from Wired News. The question is whether the above investment is necessary considering the alternative route for mobile TV, meaning broadcast technologies like DVB-H and DMB. I believe it is not. With this technologies fewer 'base stations' are necessary and network congestion can be eliminated for live TV that is. So the rise of mobile TV is more likely, even though it is for niche purposes as highlighted in my previous posts on this topic. On top of that, I strongly believe mobile TV might be killer app when it is embedded in cross media formats/triple play on mobile phones as well as viral/social contexts. The advent of TiVo-2-Go, video podcasting and all technologies enabling networking from your PC to your mobile phone (UWB, WiFi, NFC, etc.) will decrease the market for prerecorded TV or video. But then again, the DRM market might make this decentral synching of video content more difficult supporting the mobile operators. Very interesting playing field...

Monday, 21 February 2005

Mobile TV update 2

 "Vodafone participated in a pilot in Berlin with DVB-H and is evaluating the trial and is working on a business model for mobile TV. In Germany, T-Mobile is looking at the possibilty of offering mobile TV services. In the Netherlands, Digitenne is starting a DVB-H trial with LG in the Q4 of 2005. None of the major mobile operators know how they plan to make the service pay, as the service is still in its trial phase. A flat fee might be a logical way of charging for mobile TV. The survey in which Nokia participated showed 82% of those questioned were willing to pay an average of €12.50 a month on top of their current phone bill for the service. Commercialization of mobile broadcast networks may be premature. There's a risk that broadcast services may cannibalize spending on existing cellular network-based media services. For the broadcasters, the potential business model is clearer. Mobile TV may offer a new revenue stream as audience shares fragment amid the increasing number and variety of TV channels. For example, SBS Broadcasting is testing mobile TV with Nokia in Finland using its music channel The Voice TV. They are aiming at a young audience aged between 12 and 24."

In my view DVB-H or DMB will rule over streaming TV services using UMTS. The data costs for the mobile operator and thus end user are currently too high, especially for mobile TV content that takes more than 5 minutes. From the end user, mobile TV might make sense in specific circumstances, especially during key cultural and mass market events like finals of entertainment programs like Idols or key series like Desperate HouseWives, Friends and 24; football (EC and Worldcup); key political events. Other popular content might be: a dedicated musicvideo channel, a funny movies channel, a Generation Content biography-based moviechannel (think shortened-movies like Tarnation and ED-TV/Truman Show), a channel for mobile filmfestival award winners (Berlin, ZOIE, Sundance, Rotterdam) and a weather channel...all targeted at the mobile end user with a short(er) time-span. To boost mobile TV usage I believe mobile TV content should - besides stimulating interactivity and social sharing - be offering special pre-releases, exclusive content and other privileges which might be cross-medially consumed (offline, Web). For example, let's assume there is mobile TV content like the classic youth game 'I see, I see, what you don't see and the color is...shape is....etc.', this might stimulate mobile TV usage in a very hands-on way as the end users will be encouraged to interact with the TV program in real time with their own photographed solutions to the stated question of the program while conversating with friends in a bottom-up FlashMob fashion. This is mobile 'triple play' in practice! I believe this concept is the real way going forward.

Looking at the handset manufacturers, the South Korean (LG and Samsung) and Japanese vendors (NEC, Sharp, Sanyo) together with European vendor Nokia seem to have an edge in this field. Somehow, the pilots from Siemens and Sony-Ericsson seem to be delayed which might translate into a small competitive disadvantage due to the rapid developments/improvements in the mobile TV space (e.g. battery life enhancement, TV tuner optimisation). For example, company ItoM has a nice silicon solution to extend the mobile TV viewing period to around 3 hours instead of just 1 hour.  Business Week also recently elaborated on the battle between the handset vendors in the 3G phase of the mobile market with an interesting article.



Mobile TV update

"That isn't to say there isn't a market for mobile entertainment. In fact, it's likely to be a huge market -- it's just that it has to be built on the foundation of communication and interaction, rather than broadcast. This is in the form of communicating with each other for entertainment purposes, interactive gaming, file sharing and other forms of entertainment that actually take into account that the user is mobile and connected -- rather than stationary and isolated. Simply moving entertainment to a mobile device and calling it mobile entertainment is missing the point. If there's no reason for that entertainment to be mobile, there's no reason anyone's going to be willing to pay anything extra to get it."

Strong point in this article on mobile TV. Reminds me of some articles on the 2-to-2 nature of most mobile content. Meaning, people on the sending and receiving side of mobile content would like to show it to someone nearby in some cases. And this resonates with the upcoming market of near field communication (NFC) of Philips which allows for short range 'sharing' of mobile entertainment without compromising copyright concerns. The mobile device might be an isolated experience in some cases but the true potential of it is only reached by digging into the social nature of it, meaning interactive TV, live chats during mobile TV broadcasts etc.

Telecom Italia, Vodafone and 3 already offer TV streaming over cellular networks. But personally, I believe the current trials concerning DVB-H and DMB are more promising relative to the GPRS, UMTS and 3.5G solutions. Broadcasting technology is cheaper, more efficient, offers less congestion and will offer a more robust user experience relative to cellular networks in my view. Indeed, Strategy Analytics estimates that mobile broadcast networks will have acquired around 51 million users world-wide by 2009, generating around $6.6 billion (€5.2 billion) in revenue. Nokia is running several mobile TV trials and plans to launch commercial devices and services in 2006. In a survey sponsored by Nokia and some other companies in Germany last year, 78% of the 512 respondents regarded mobile TV as a good or excellent idea. Unfortunately, these figures do not focus on the social dimension of mobile TV as stated above.