Mobile Video: Why Steve Jobs is Wrong


I couldn't disagree with Steve Jobs more. In the keynote he gave when announcing the iPod Photo (which I just saw today - around 12 minutes in) he talks about how there's no need for video on devices like the iPod. Video is "the wrong direction to go", "there's no content," "the screens are too small" and competitors to the iPod putting R&D into providing video are "digging in the wrong place."

Wow... that is just so wrong, wrong, wrong.

You know what the busiest booth at the CTIA Wireless conference was? The MobiTV booth. It was packed four deep every time I went by it. People cannot get enough of video on their mobile phone - even somewhat choppy streamed video and sound over cellular networks. People love it. This interesting article talks about how 150,000 people have signed up for Sprint's video service (provided by MobiTV) at $10 a month since they launched it a year ago. For the naysayers of mobile video, that's a pretty amazing number. $1.5 million in revenue every month just by streaming content that's being created by someone else, here in what the rest of the world considers a mobile backwater. Astounding.

But there's more. I've talked about Dora The Explorer movie-video cartridges entertaining my son on his GameBoy Advance - mobile video is a no brainer. And after I ripped Finding Nemo the other day, I've been playing it on my smart phone to everyone I can show it to. People are totally amazed. They really smile and get into it when watching. And this is on a screen that's slightly smaller than the one on the iPod Photo and shown in letter box as well (and not very clearly because I don't know what I'm doing just yet when it comes to ripping video).

No, Steve's going to eat his words on this one just like the "hell freezing over" thing. I honestly think this is Steve trying to shape consumer opinion because of his ties to the movie industry, rather than him listening to what people want or looking towards the future. There's no reason in the world that the iPod can't be an incredible mobile video player and that sitting in its dock become a TiVo-like device as well. It's a hard drive with a full-on color screen capable of 65,536 colors at 220x176 resolution. Just like the majority of mobile phones out there. Adding the ability to play back video would be simple and compelling. He's got other reasons for not doing it.

Jobs had no problem promoting "ripping" when he was ripping the Music Industry, did he? But "ripping" a Pixar movie and suddenly Steve is talking about how video isn't the right direction suddenly. Okay, sure. See you next year when the iPod Video is announced... it'll be fun to hear the explanations then about how the "market is ready" for the product, etc.



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