Video Sharing Goes Cellular

    November 9, 2006

With the less than stellar results companies have seen from the ability to download television shows, rock clips, and other video entertainment onto portable consumer electronic devices, video sharing on cellular phones is gearing up to be the next possible rage.

Spearheading the future of this once science fiction-like technology is not surprisingly, YouTube, the ultra-successful consumer Internet media company where ordinary folks watch and share original videos worldwide through a Web experience.

It should be no secret to industry watchdogs by now that consumers would rather watch and share videos with family members, friends, and even strangers(!) instead of catching the latest episode of C.S.I. on their laptop or cell phone. (Could it have something to do with the tiny screens and being in areas where the viewer can’t fully devote all of their attention span to longer programming?)

Recent studies have concluded that consumers would really prefer to share vacation moments, baseball games, concert events, family barbeques, and other slice-of-life events with each other more than anything else, especially if these convenient features were available on cellular phones. It’s the next natural step of evolution for cell phones that have picture taking and sharing capabilities.

Moblogging, by definition, is the combination of the words “mobile” and “weblog.” A mobile weblog, or moblog, consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile or potable device, such as a cellular phone or PDA. Moblogs generally involve technology which allows publishing from a mobile device.

YouTube CEO Chad Hurley recently announced that the video-sharing site will allow users to send clips to other YouTube members within a year, according to a Reuters report. (YouTube users already can upload clips from their phones to the company’s site and then watch from their personal computers.)

Although it’s obvious that consumers have the desire to use video-sharing capabilities on cell phones, the big question will ultimately be how many people actually take the initiative to do this. According to data, only 50 percent of U.S. mobile phone subscribers that have cameras in their phones actually use them. And many more people find all the extra bell and whistle’ devices added to phones difficult to use and cumbersome in many cases. Another barrier right now is that less than 3% of cell phone users use the (limited) video recording capabilities of their devices.

Despite the obstructions that might be there to overcome, YouTube is not the only company venturing into moblogging territory. MobiTV landed $30 million dollars more of funding at the beginning of November to jump into the race and Alex Kelly, the CEO of startup company Veeker has already unrolled a service that lets consumers write’ video clips taken with their cell phones, eventually getting them onto websites where “video voicemails” can be retrieved by friends and family.

Other companies such as Tiny Pictures and JuiceCaster (aiming their product at college students who want to stay in touch with each other through moblogging, kind of akin to a video version of Facebook) are also joining the cell phone video-on-demand’ party, and there’s sure to be more to come with the certainty that this is something every consumer wants and needs.

The big thing to watch, as this moblogging technology evolves, will be who (or what company) actually comes up with the first mass produced person-to-person live video-feed cell phones. It can’t be that far off “Kirk to EnterpriseScotty, please beam me up now!”


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Tim Ritter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.