Mobile video accounts for a very small fraction of the overall U.S. mobile data market, despite on-the-go video and mobile TV receiving as much hype as any other area in the space. This report — the first in a two-part series on mobile video — examines what we can learn from the failures of mobile video to find a sizable audience so far, which challenges will continue to hinder the market in the coming years and the opportunities that will increasingly exist.
The iPhone, Android devices and other multimedia-friendly handsets are increasingly luring consumers, thanks in part to screens that offer more real estate in the form of higher resolution. And devices are getting more video-friendly, with tablets such as the iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy providing a more TV-like experience than any phone could. The move towards 4G, meanwhile, will help carriers deliver higher quality video more consistently, and offloading strategies and compression technologies will ease network congestion as data consumption continues to ramp up.
Messaging, meanwhile, could play a huge role in the space as videoconferencing and Apple’s FaceTime gain popularity. Of course, key challenges have to be addressed in order for mobile video to get the kind of legs many have long been predicting for it.
Smartphone sales continue to surge, yet mobile devices will always be inferior to set-top boxes, desktop computers and even laptops when it comes to the delivering a quality viewing experience. Content, then, must be optimized for mobile devices — or even created exclusively for them — in order to attracted a larger number of users. And because video consumes so much bandwidth on mobile networks, uptake will surely be impacted as carriers move away from all-you-can-eat data plans and toward alternative billing models.
Consumers have shown a willingness to buy downloadable apps in large quantities, but there’s little evidence suggesting they’re inclined to pay monthly subscription fees to watch video on their phones. So the industry must find other ways to monetize the space, and it must do so without clogging already taxed cellular networks. Most importantly, the industry must develop viable business models for implementing mobile video in ways that make sense for the consumer, the content owner and the network operator.
Companies mentioned in this report include Crown Castle, Aloha Networks, Qualcomm, MobiTV, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Fox, Apple, Google, Research in Motion, Samsung, ABC, NBC, HTC, Motorola, Cherrysauce, Bytemobile, YouTube, Adobe and Yahoo.