Which telecoms services will mobile TV/video cannibalise?

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I posted this question on forumoxford

Two insightful responses follow the question.

Mobile TV and video has tremendous potential. There is no doubt about that. Even the cynics would agree that, even if conventional TV (broadcast content) does not take off on mobile devices, user generated content definately will!

(think mobile versions of youtube)

So, my question is .. Once we all have the capacity to view video clips on handheld devices: which existing services will no longer be relevent

For example:

a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)

b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)

c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video

d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers.

Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?

etc etc ..

I guess my broader question is ..

What kind of puzzles me is .. when all these 3G forecasts were done, why did not anyone see the potential of broadcast TV on mobile devices(as opposed to streaming media via a 3G) – OR Did they?

I am not familiar with the logistics of 3G but historically, we always said ..

text on mobile devices = GSM data services

still pictures on mobile devices + simple animations = 2.5G(GPRS)

video on mobile devices = 3G

That picture now seems severely flawed(or is it)?

and with it .. market forecasts and analysis ..

I have seen many market forecasts in the dot com era (not just telecoms but also from investment bankers). No one really predicted that we would have a deja vu of the 3G spectrum issues just two years down the road and that Mobile TV and video could cannibalise the same services that could be offered by 3G?

Ofcourse, 3G always has a value proposition no matter what the dommsdayers say .. because the extra bandwidth could always be useful for a range of different services(not least of which is voice) .. BUT .. we are takling data services ..

From Elmer Zinkhann

Interesting question.

Let’s start with a general statement. I think mobile video will cannibalise some, but not that many alternative markets. I think there is – and I’m probably using the wrong terms to describe them – a big difference between intrusive media and background media, as has been the case with TV vs. Radio or Talk vs. Text. The former being one which uses up all of your senses for a continuous period, and the latter one easily integrated into any lifestyle, time or place.

Second to consider is the emotional value of the type of media. Which says more or has a bigger impact, a postcard, letter, text, chat, voicemail, photo, video or even being there? There is no definite answer for that. As the medium and mediatype change, so will the impact of the received item.

Let’s go through the examples you gave to illustrate this;

“a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)”

As we have seen with photo/video cameras, there is a difference in ccd, which limits the quality of the video still. As you’ll often just want a high quality still, video is not the format to use (eg look at the popularity of photo pages on myspace eq sites)

“b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)”

As this time – from my experience/observation – is mainly being used by commuters to read the metro (or similar newspapers), I think there is room for video, however, not directly at the cost of people playing on portable consoles. I am actually surprised to see so little game playing in public spaces – as opposed to the immense amounts of people listening to music or talking on the phone.

“c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video”

In some cases, yes, but I think this is tightly coupled to my first general statement. The unintrusiveness listening to music allows it to be combined with other activities. Many people like to listen to music while working, reading a paper, driving, or maybe even sleeping. This can not just be replaced with video, simply because of the nature of video.

“d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers.

Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?”

Here’s one which is very interesting. I do believe that well scheduled TV can be a serious thread to mobile video downloads. But since the nature of broadcast in itself is changing I think it is really up to the amount of control given to the viewer. Broadcasting obviously is more intersting for telco’s as it requires much less resources, freeing up bandwidth for alternative(/additional?) services.

Maybe an interesting concept for certain tv broadcasts would be ‘broadcast on demand’ as many people travel during certain times, it would be great to offer ‘ tv on demand, shared watching with others wanting to view the same program at the same time.

I think ‘portable’ broadcast TV for has been underrated for a long time. Maybe this is because the early portable tvs ( casio anyone? )did not offer the user experience people expected. Maybe it is now because people don’t realise how much the TV services have changed over the past 5 years and will continue to change over the next few (IPTV/HDTV). Or maybe they think of DAB, digital radio as an indicator of the success of DMB/DVB-T, hence..

I for one think mobile TV broadcasts will be a great addition to the mobile services. Imagine not just commuters, but families, you won’t need multiple TV sets in the household for each familymember, you won’t need to ‘flick the channel’ to see if the commercials have ended.. You could be watching the latest news broadcast on your lunchbreak, you could be sitting in the hairsalon watching something actually interesting in the background. Mobile TV is not just mobile, it’s portable too. It’s not just a replacement or competitive service, it could add to any odd user experience, It could make your mobile the ultimate remote.

From Vladimir Dimitroff

..and some of my thoughts on your questions:

a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)

1 second of uncompressed video is 20 still images. A 30sec clip is 600 still images. Whatever compression algorithms come along, they can squash the current 10:1 to, let’s say. a fantastic 100:1 compression ratio – that’s still a 6 times (600%) larger file – with compromised quality! (Assuming the same CCD sensor which, as pointed out, is a further reason). Still images are here to stay – on all converging media/platforms including paper smile

As to MMS as a technical method of sending still images (and business model for paying for that) – it is already threatened by images attached to e-mail or pushed in P2P services (incl. IM already on mobile). But this threat is not from broadcast TV…

b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)

Big qustion re. the amount of time in transit: unless doomsday theories like crude oil running out dry in our lifetime, I believe the time spent travelling will increase – social and economic trend, not technological. More mobile working, cheaper long-distance travel, globalisation, urbanisation and de-urbanisation etc. – ther will be more time ‘to kill’.

No amount of MTV or Pop Idols or even football on ‘normal’ (big screen) TV has ever canibalised the game console market, which keeps growing. Neither has any streaming and broadcast video on PCs cannibalised computer gaming. Why should it happen on mobile? Gamers will always be gamers (a particularly hardcore and resilient tribe) and non-gamers (like myself) still won’t touch a game – with or without TV on their mobile. No threat.

c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video

Portable music is there to be listened to (while doing something else), while portable video/TV is there to be watched (but you can’t drive or even read a book at the same time). Major functional reason. Also, even if you ignore the visual content, shut the screen down and want to just listen to the music – significant quality compromise and file size won’t make such mode of usage popular with music fans. No threat.

d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers. Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?

Yes, watch the TV news, only to be told by the presenter “For full details go to WAP.BBC.co.uk” smile We see it already happen on ‘proper’ TV, sending us to Web sites for detailed content – the same logic applies to the smallest of screens. No threat.

Well, just like a significant percentage fo the population grew to prefer TV to reading (anything, sadly), mobile TV will quite probably replace a proportion of text services that currently force the great unwashed (and some very washed – and perfumed – members of the public) to,, er.. read (pardon the 4-letter word)… But that is more of a social phenomenon, again, and not a technology threat.

Overall I believe there are a lot more opportunities than threats and porviders should focus on those and make the most of them. These opportunities will only materialise (unlike the wrong dot-com and 3G forecasts made by/for greedy investors) with the clear understanding of customer needs – and therefore of the (potential) value in new services.

Cheerz,

V.

Image source: BBC