Color, the mobile broadcasting app startup, has announced a deal with Verizon Wireless to enable audio for live video broadcasts over their 4G network. The feature will not be enabled for subscribers of any other wireless provider.
The deal was announced on the Color blog, where Bill Nguyen, CEO of Color Labs, explained how the deal came about. It started out as a fascination with cutting-edge film technology. From the blog post:
About nine months ago, I discovered RED http://www.red.com a professional digital camera used by filmmakers including Peter Jackson and James Cameron. RED is all about 4K and beyond. That’s nerd speak for what’s after HD. RED introduced another revolutionary idea: it eliminates the distinction between video and photography. Simply pick single frames from the video as perfect photographs. Videos and stills can be the same. Vogue Magazine is using RED in this way. If it's good enough for them, it's perfect for me.
Nguyen set about trying to implement similar functionality with a mobile app, but quickly realized he would have to compromise on his vision. Due to 3G networks not being fast enough to support his new vision, Color made the decision to disable audio for Live broadcasts using the Color app. This brought up the video quality and the performance of the app, and the company resigned itself to waiting for the U.S. wireless network infrastructure to improve. The deal with Verizon went down at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, where Nguyen met with Verizon:
Then something amazing happened in January at CES. We had an opportunity to meet Kristi and Rob from Verizon. In a matter of minutes, I realized that Verizon’s 4G network and their influence on smartphone design would accelerate our plan by light years. We created a partnership to integrate Color into smartphones to take advantage of the “metal” or hardware not just software for encoding the HQ video. We could use their amazing, pervasive 4G network to deliver LIVE video directly from smartphones to the entire world.
The only question left is why Verizon subscribers are the only ones to get such a privilege. AT&T's 4G speeds are better on average. That makes me think that there is something more to this deal than an idealistic vision for the future. Sarah Kessler at Mashable is quoting Nguyen as saying that Verizon is doing processing and computation on its network, rather than having the app do it. That explains a bit of why the deal was made, but still not why Verizon is willing to do this for the startup.
What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.