March 31, 2007
Pondering the State of Mobile Video

Matt Kapko of RCR Wireless News had a great look at the current state of wireless video that was shared with TelevisionWeek this past week. The story started with a particularly apt anecdote, one reminiscent of the fate of Bill Gates and his Windows display.

Kapko, reporting from Billboard's Mobile Entertainment Live meeting, wrote about the Producing Mobile Content session of the conference, in which "a ballroom filled with tech-savvy players in the wireless industry" watched as five panelists from the mobile video industry struggled through audio and visual problems in trying to make their presentations.

The irony of the situation is particularly appropriate for the vexing problems currently facing the industry, in which the number of mobile video services are burgeoning, customer interest is expected to grow rapidly, and content is starting to make the cross-platform shift. However, technological concerns like the ones facing the panelists today remain important, as services could be ruined just by reaching an early tipping point prematurely, before the infrastructure and content is in place to give mobile video consumers what they are looking for.

I believe that early adopters may be moving in that direction, but the state of mobile video is still quite a ways away from the average user, both because of cost and lack of content.

However, Kapko's question is an important one for the industry to consider: "If short video clips brought by the executives working on this medium can't be screened successfully at a wireless convention, just where does that leave the mobile alternative?"

The question is an important one, one that I used to ask when I had no Cingular coverage every time I went to visit the Cingular store back in Kentucky. The irony of wireless video not working in a conference about mobile content and with both a panel and audience of professionals interested in the mobile realm indicates that, despite the positive rhetoric about the booming future of the genre, that we're still a ways away from a mobile video revolution.

Kapko's collection of perspectives from the industry is worth looking through, as are recent posts here about NBC Universal's mobile plan, the Yahoo/MobiTV deal, V CAST Mobile TV, and the WWE/Cingular deal.

The state of mobile video services has been getting a lot more media attention lately, due to the number of major deals put together so far in 2007, but there is as much danger in overestimating the power of the medium in overcoming initial infrastructure and cost issues with consumers as there is in underestimating and missing the market.

RCR Wireless News is largely a premium subscription-based news service about the wireless industry.



It's almost quite literally a joke, isn't it?

How many mobile tech' engineers does it take to stream video?

None. You need a good wireless carrier and a sound telecommunications infrastructure.

Personally, I think mobile video is a at best a curio.

People don't want to be sat squinting at a tiny screen.

And what about closed captions and on-screen text for regular, non-mobile video?

It's a nonsense.

Right now, the screens are way too small.

We're about 5 years away from devices (like the Apple iPhone) that'll sport the size of screen needed to make mobile video even remotely viable...


Wayne, good laundry list of points as to how mobile has several daunting issues to overcome before it makes it to "primetime," so to speak. (Considering my interest in daytime, I hate the "primetime" emphasis, but oh well.) Seriously, I think that you are right that mobile faces some major infrastructure issues that will quite simply take some time to work through.