Can you see me now? Good...
Those of you outside the U.S. may not realize that title comes from the Verizon ads they play here in the U.S. Cellular coverage is still so generally spotty in the U.S. that Verizon makes it a selling point that it's coverage is generally better than its competition. The commercials have this techie guy who's job it is to wander around the country testing the connection. He takes a step, "can you hear me now?" he says, "Good..." He then takes another step, says it again, and so on. What Verizon doesn't know is that since they've shortened down the commercials to him just saying the catch-phrase once, for someone who just arrived in the country (me) at first I didn't understand what the hell they were promoting. The first commercial I saw was they guy stepping out from a building, saying "Can you hear me now? Good..." I was thinking, "the guy has to leave the building to be heard, and that's a good thing?!?" but after a few more commercials I got the idea.
Anyways, one of 3GSM's main focal points this year seems to be on mobile video. Video is the ever-arriving reason du-jour to justify 3G networks. If you go way back to the original 3G presenations, they all had some guy chatting away via video. I won't discount the notion, but I'm just sick of hearing about it as everyone else is. However I think, like many things with mobile tech, that 2004 is the year things are going to actually happen in that space. Not just mobile video, but mobile media in general. It's arrived.
Being mobile changes a lot of things that are not particularly obvious at first. Adding a digital camera to mobile phones have shown just how many shutterbugs there really are out there, and adding video capabilities, I'm sure, are going to show us how many people really *are* into video conferencing, watching video and streaming media while out and about. The handsets and the networks have finally arrived to support this stuff and now it'll just depend on the usability and ease-of-use to see how popular it really gets.
I've currently got my hands full with the other up-and-coming technology that's always "coming soon" (location based services) but mobile media is another techno-buzz worthy option and it's interesting to see it finally arriving. Since I started a company called "Avedia" which was dedicated to providing video tutorials online, I've always been interested in the power of streaming media, especially video. People respond to video in ways they just don't respond to other mediums. Now that it's finally here on mobile devices, it's going to *explode* in popularity.
I've mentioned this bit before, but I'm especially excited about the Nokia 6620 that's coming soon to the American market. It'll be the first Series 60 EDGE phone, and will be an extraordinarily powerful combination. With the speeds that EDGE provides, real streaming media will finally be possible, and the 6620 handset has more than enough processing power to display all that video and sound without missing a beat. The camera is not angled such to provide real video-conferencing, but that's not a problem I think at first. People will be quite happy at first to mess around listening to Shoutcast streams and sending videos of their kids to notice.
Now I want to point out something that seems obvious to most people but just doesn't seem to be seeping into carrier's brains. The Three.co.uk fiasco has shown that consumers *do not want video clips*. Anyone who's reading this who's business plan or launch contains something as dumb as 30 second clips of news or sports or some shit like that needs to go back to the drawing board. We don't want that crap, don't try to pass it off to us. We want *real* streaming media. It can be audio like BBC World or NPR or Marketplace or it can be video. MobiTV has shown how amazingly cool it is to get live TV on your phone, and that's in a very chopped video format. Imagine doing that same service using Real Media? Well, with an EDGE phone like the 6620, it'll be possible and available in just a couple months.
So if you're planning on jumping into a cool new mobile revenue opportunity here in the U.S., or even in the rest of the world, I would suggest grabbing a Series 60 phone and start trying to figure out how you're going to take advantage of it's media streaming capabilities when the 6620 is selling like hotcakes next Christmas. Simulate an EDGE network by connecting to your PC over Bluetooth for higher-bandwidth, and start imagining the possiblities.
XM Radio is cool - how about a cellular equivalent? It's not there now, why don't you create it. Shoutcast streams MP3, but most bit-rates are too high for EDGE networks... do you have a solution to automagically drop the bit-rate for mobile phones? Photo Blogs are cool, but what does video do to change that experience? Video messaging - are you ready to support MMS with video? MMS has a 100kb max size which doesn't translate to a lot of video, maybe the world needs a better solution, do you have it? Do you know how to set up a streaming media server like Darwin or Helix? What codec looks best on a phone? What type of video service would your mom like? What happens during next year's super-bowl when 1/3rd of the crowd has EDGE capable streaming video recorders? Do you have a site to reflect those videos? Do you have th capabilities to stream and record that video? How does video affect MMRPGs? What would happen if you hung your 6620 around your neck on a chain and streamed video all day long? There are *so* many untapped ideas out there stemming from mobile media, and *now* is the time to capitalize on them...
The coming generation of personal broadcasting is upon us, are you ready?