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


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