Mobile Multimedia Twitter

This blog explores the idea of Mobile multimedia twitter as an IMS application.

Continuing in the series of blogs about IMS and WEB 20 , we look at the idea of Mobile Multimedia Twitter (conceptually synonymous with Mobile video twitter/Mobile audio twitter)

Twitter is popular microblogging service .. and according to Wikipedia

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application.

The idea of a media rich twitter is not new and indeed loic-lemeur is building video twitter - which I watch with interest .. and of course .. Twitter itself is already ‘mobile’ in the sense that you can get updates via SMS.

However, to take the idea of Video twitter to mobile devices, would be a complex proposition .. and would need optimization of the network(hence an IMS application).

The idea of Mobile Video Twitter is interesting and could combine a number of different ideas – most of which we know already

a) Twitter itself i.e. short updates

b) Video

c) Maybe Presence

d) Maybe location

e) Maybe Push to talk

f) Client side optimization

However, most importantly – it will need the mobile network to be optimised.

Push to Talk has been around for a long time .. it’s biggest proponent being Nextel. However, PTT has not taken off in most places in the world – partly because it needs the network to be optimised .. and in most places, you end up delivering voice over the non optimised GPRS network – which is not really feasible from a performance and user experience standpoint as we can see from the experience of Orange which attempted to launch PTT back in 2004 without much success.

However, the networks themselves have come a long way since that time .. and indeed .. one of the most common questions we see today is Where are the IMS applications – which translates to Where are applications that can uniquely use the network (See my blog – Where are the IMS applications? for the reasons why)

One company who is working on such a service is Ecrio . (Disclaimer: I am an advisor to Ecrio) and their new services(in development and soon to be launched) can be treated as ‘Mobile Multimedia Twitter’. As I alluded to this before, to make this service really work – we have to combine client side optimization, network optimization(what I call as a true IMS application), possibly other features like PTT, presence etc.

Ecrio comes from a background of IMS applications especially from their work in Japan. Ecrio is the sole supplier of SIP-IMS client (FOMA handset) software to NTT DoCoMo with over 25 million handsets shipped. Their FOMA applications include Presence, Group and List Management and PushTalk. Outside of Japan, Ecrio is a supplier to multiple handset vendors of AT&T (Cingular) IMS Videoshare client software which is currently being evolved in scope for worldwide deployments under GSMA’s task force effort called Videoshare Phase 2 (See the Wikipedia entry for some very good insights on videoshare)

All this experience may serve them well in launching such a service

A secondary question is: Is there a need for Mobile Video Twitter?

The success of twitter comes down to the desire to communicate at the speed of thought(phrase borrowed from Paul Golding – a long time associate and friend) .

On Sat night, Paul, me and some others were stranded at Oslo airport due to heavy snow and as we looked out at the snow .. we speculated if the snowflakes were growing bigger(i.e. the storm was worsening) and how much de-icining would be needed to get the airport going again.(Paul claimed Jedi powers in reducing the size of snowflakes – a claim which I consider to be sacrilege :) )

Snow in Oslo

oslo%20airport.JPG

But more to the point ..

Here was a scene where I would like to send a video status to my friends because it was truly dramatic(see the pic above ..). Consequently, I think the need to ‘update status’ definitely exists – some do this more than others – but it’s an unmet communication need and the lower the friction – the greater the chance of adoption.

So, Will the idea of Mobile Video Twitter work for the Operator?

Certainly, it will need IMS i.e. network optimization(in other words – it is not a ‘web only’ application by definition). It will need client side optimization as well as network side optimization if the service is to conform to the idea of ‘communications at the speed of thought’. I have been sceptical of the idea of end to end (Person to Person) IMS and I don’t think Person to Person Mobile Video Twitter will work(yet). However, a Web terminated service can certainly work.

Interestingly, it is one of the very few services I have seen where an Operator can have a competitive advantage over a similar web application (because the service needs both device side optimization and network side optimization)

More promisingly, I believe also a need exists and the success of Twitter itself may pave the way for Mobile Multimedia Twitter.

As always thoughts welcome

Comments

  1. I have to disagree that a true Mobile Multimedia Twitter requires network optimization. Twitter is an ambient form of communication, well suited to high latency, asynchronous links. You describe something more akin to PTx where x is video (or voice), or at least something that is more real-time than Twitter.
    Now I am not saying that there is no reason to have an optimized network (possibly via IMS), for I am a big proponent of such means for more appropriate reasons.
    Regarding an optimized client, such an device could possibly capture a higher quality experience than the link could support in a real-time fashion (taking full advantage of a more store and forward oriented mode), allowing for more intimate or phatic communication modes.
    -Todd

  2. Peter Cranstone says:

    Here’s a really simple question:
    * Would you be willing to pay for it?
    Answer Yes or No
    If the answer is Yes – how much?
    If the answer is No – why not?
    Forget the tech for a moment, does this solve a real problem or just a nice to have, but I have no intention of paying for it.
    Peter

  3. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Hi Todd
    What I am describing is a video / audio push to talk i.e. one button post of video or audio on a site (or to anothher person). So, in that sense you are correct. I have chosen to compare it to twitter because we can add other elements (like location and presence) in it. Thanks for your comments. rgds Ajit

  4. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Hello Peter
    The need is always commucation .. Its the greatest need for a mobile device .. and the reason why we pay our phone bills .. has existed since millenia :) rgds Aj

  5. i, personally, would more believe in something like pic+text on mobile phones as the core app, maybe augmented with micro-audio like utterz – not so much video ..

  6. Here’s a really simple question:
    * Would you be willing to pay for it?
    Answer Yes or No
    If the answer is Yes – how much?
    If the answer is No – why not?
    Forget the tech for a moment, does this solve a real problem or just a nice to have, but I have no intention of paying for it.
    Peter

  7. Dean bubley says:

    I can’t see this becoming popular (let alone ubiquitous) until HSUPA-capable devices are priced at levels suitable for unsubsidised massmarket prepay users. Given that HSDPA phones are still >$200, I can’t see us getting to sub-$100 HSUPA much before late 2010 / early 2011.
    Possible exceptions for small niches of high-end consumers, or in non-prepay markets like Japan or US.

  8. Ajit,
    the ‘video twitter’ taking off – well, in alpha is seesmic which I saw being used last weekend. Person takes a video using their mobile, and then a la shozu, uploads it straight to the server. Friends can then reply with their own videos, and you can subscribe to an RSS of the ‘channel’, which then shows the videos using a flash player the same way that youtube does.
    Bruce

  9. i, personally, would more believe in something like pic+text on mobile phones as the core app, maybe augmented with micro-audio like utterz – not so much video ..

  10. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Peter
    would I pay for this service? yes(if only to prove that Paul is not a Jedi! ) :)
    uplink point is valid – as Dean has pointed out as well rgds Ajit
    Dean
    interesting .. you think IMS alone will not work? You think uplink has to be additionally enhanced? I thought I kept it to a practical level when I ruled out P2P i.e. kept it web terminated. However you think that a 3G network + IMS is not enough? the uplink needs to be enhanced? even then 2010 is not that far away in the broad scheme of thinks rgds Aj
    Bruce
    Thanks Bruce. I like the idea of seesmic. I think the key(and Dean has touched on it correctly) is for this to take off in a mass market way .. we need the network to be involved in some way … (as well as the device to reduce the friction and to complement the network). That’s why this blog was so different(and it too me some time to think it through). Its interesting that such servcies are taking off though – so as I said there is an inherent communication need. I will cross post comments on my blog as well kind rgds Ajit
    Martin
    Great to hear from you and its been a while since I enjoyed the great town of Innsbruck since my trip to Microlearning labs. Great comments as usual. More soon. Thanks for the email links on your research as well. Certainly topic for another blog! kind rgds Ajit

  11. Hi,
    A company we do work for has a similar service to the one you mention.
    http://www.palringo.com
    It is an instant messaging application that offers other features including a push-to-talk and multimedia blog publishing. I know that they also have a lot of other nifty features in the works.
    Everything has been highly optimised for the current mobile networks without IMS and it works admirably on existing Windows Mobile and Symbian S60.3 devices. There is also a beta Java ME version out but without PTT (you can receive but can’t create audio). However the full PTT functionality will gradually be introduced into the Java ME application over the next few months (for phones that support audio capture). A Blackberry version is also going into beta soon.
    I wrote about their “blog bot” here.
    http://www.paxmodept.com/telesto/blogitem.htm?id=505
    Cheers,
    Jason

  12. Hi,
    A company we do work for has a similar service to the one you mention.
    http://www.palringo.com
    It is an instant messaging application that offers other features including a push-to-talk and multimedia blog publishing. I know that they also have a lot of other nifty features in the works.
    Everything has been highly optimised for the current mobile networks without IMS and it works admirably on existing Windows Mobile and Symbian S60.3 devices. There is also a beta Java ME version out but without PTT (you can receive but can’t create audio). However the full PTT functionality will gradually be introduced into the Java ME application over the next few months (for phones that support audio capture). A Blackberry version is also going into beta soon.
    I wrote about their “blog bot” here.
    http://www.paxmodept.com/telesto/blogitem.htm?id=505
    Cheers,
    Jason

  13. Paul Golding says:

    For the record, the snowflakes *did* indeed reduce and then stop after I flexed my Jedi powers.
    Some video apps can indeed be done very easily on today’s 3G networks using videophony (i.e. video calls). The resolution is good enough for twitter-like apps. What’s more, as I recently pointed out on my blog, the beauty of video calling is that it’s a no brainer = no set-up, no client and just dial a short code. With the most recent 3G handsets and the right video gateway, the set-up time for the call is now a few seconds.
    You are right Ajit, that for PTT apps, data network optimisation is almost always necessary, but this is only for real-time voice apps where the network delay can kill the experience, even using the various tricks used by PTT to mitigate voice delay problems.

  14. Sachendra says:

    Though I risk sounding naive but I’ll still put this point across. Wouldn’t YouTube mobile be appropriate for video.

  15. The problem with you guys is that you’re always thinking in terms of the perfect technical implementation. Off course it would be perfect to have an network optimized client, a one click sharing process, a super duper speed network.
    But, let’s make a bet: the first wildly successful mobile 2.0 app will have following ingredients:
    - it’s free
    - it utilizes the least common technical denominator (browser, mms)
    - it doesn’t depended on the operator
    - it can be developed in 2 weeks
    - it’s completely useless, at first sight (just think of youtube, twitter and currently friendfeed)
    What do you think?