Sprint offers 1KTV Virtual Newscast of AP News


I like reading Sprint news because they were one of the first companies I worked for. If you look waaaaay down on my resume, I spent 9 months out in the Overland Park, Kansas offices of Sprint doing a Lotus Notes DB for their sales guys to track different types of wire installations, etc. A long time ago, but it's a good memory. The people who work for Sprint are SERIOUSLY mid-Western and wonderful people. I was just some random consultant, but they invited me out NFL games (go Chiefs!) and generally were just swell types. Lots of meetings though. The company thrived on consensus, but overall a neat place to start my career.

Anyways, it looks likes they're doing something with all that CDMA bandwidth they've been building up. Here's the news/announcement:

Sprint PCS offering wireless news service

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Sprint Corp. rolled out a new service Thursday that makes it possible to watch the news on cellular phones.

The service will let Sprint PCS users download onto their phones an application that receives news, sports and weather information and converts it into a slide show with streaming audio.

The Associated Press, the world's largest newsgathering organization, has contracted with VStar, the company that created the application, to provide the news for the service.

Sprint plans to charge $3.95 a month for the service. Chip Novick, Sprint PCS's vice president of consumer marketing, said he expects it to be appealing "in these times of such important world alerts and events."

IDC, a technology analysis firm, predicts 5.4 million cell phone users will subscribe to some sort of multimedia messaging system like this in 2004. By the end of 2007, IDC expects the number to rise to 28 million.

This is a very interesting app from a technical perspective because it's sorta like MMS, but not. And though the 3650 is going to come with a Symbian version of RealOne installed providing streaming media for that phone, this service says that it's using J2ME!! Wow! I wonder what phones this app runs on? In order to get sound out of J2ME you have to use proprietary manufacturer APIs and each phone is different, so this is very wild. Here's the official press release.

I say "interesting" but only because of the technology. Maybe I'm being a stick in the mud, but this type of slide-show app for NEWS doesn't do much for me (training maybe, but not for news). I'd rather browse the web from my phone. This is an honest gut reaction that I have not just because of this news item, but because they're doing similar things here too, but with MMS. Just this morning I got some MMS spam from my carrier Telefonica Movistar. I couldn't really understand what they were trying to sell me, but it was a slide show of different news pics and a big A3N logo on the side (which I have NO idea what it stands for) and the idea is that you could order news items to arrive like that every day. Bleh... not too exciting. The cool thing about the 1KTV app is that it's streaming whereas MMS needs to all download to your phone before it starts playing. Maybe that'll bring something to the idea that I haven't seen yet... But the honest truth is that I don't watch many audio-annotated slide-shows on my PC, why would I want to see them on my phone?

Another interesting bit about this announcement is the price point. $3.95 a month. Just like Vindigo... I'll have to keep that in mind for the biz plan. You've got to have A LOT of subscribers to make money from that rate, I would think, especially since you're paying both Sprint to carry you and AP for their content to distribute, and I know how much they charge for syndication rights and this can't be cheap.


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