Camera Phones and the War

I HATE the war. I hate everything about it. I don't care if its going well or badly or whatever. I just want us NOT to be at war. It makes me angry to think about it. However, I must say that it's been a nightly ritual to turn on CNN (any time, doesn't matter) and see what's going on. I watch just until they start repeating themselves (which is like 20 minutes) and then I go back to my regularly scheduled life.

This article in the Wireless News Factor, however, piqued my interest because it points out all those video phone images from journalists in Iraq that are being viewed every night by millions (or maybe even billions) of people and are renewing interest in video phones:

The war in Iraq and resulting use of wireless videophones by TV journalists have sparked renewed interest in wireless video. After all, these devices theoretically have a multitude of applications: A doctor could guide emergency rescue personnel providing first aid at an accident scene; a repair technician on the road could ask a colleague at the home office for advice on a particular procedure; a real estate agent could show a new listing to a customer sitting at home beside his or her PC.

There is still a huge gap, however, between reality and imagination. The difference between the wireless videophones used by reporters in Iraq and the technology available to the average U.S. mobile user is enormous. Handsets that can send and receive video are few and far between in the United States, carriers are still in early stages of trialing video capabilities and services, and big questions about user demand and application availability are a long way from being answered.

However, progress has been made in the last year, and carriers and handset makers are beginning to wonder which wireless video services will play in Peoria.


That IS the question isn't it? But I have to say from a completely mercenary mindset that if you were Nokia or SonyEricsson and just happen to be rolling out your first camera phones to a worldwide market including Europe and the U.S., that these journalist reports on TV couldn't have been better timing.

The article is a decent summary of where the U.S. is in terms of video phones and what it needs to make them popular. I remember from years ago that there were always images associated with every step along the way to 3G. Right now we use SMS on our GSM networks, then its MMS with GPRS, Video clips on EDGE, and full streaming on 3G. A couple years ago this seemed pretty dumb ("who's going to want to watch video on their phone?!?") but now it looks like this step ladder in services may actually come about.

And the thing is images of journalists using video phones like this on television every night, even if they're far above the quality you'll get on your Nokia 3650, still open people's imagination and spark demand.

Doesn't mean I'm not against the war, but it's an interesting side effect... It could really change how 3G is perceived when it hits globally (i.e. in the U.S. too).


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