Ten Things We Hate About Mobile Video
1. Video kills your battery life Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown has been testing Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s 7 Mbit/s 3G upgrade in London and finding that battery life, not network speed, is what will stop users downloading all the video they can consume. (See Vodafone's Blazin' 3G Upgrade.)
"Mobile video is great, but it kills your battery," Brown tells Unstrung. "You can only watch a couple of clips a day before charge-anxiety sets in."
Developers would be wise to note this. "Applications that can cope with being disconnected or can stay live in idle mode without consuming too much power will be much more usable and successful," Brown says.
2. Video can flatten the network Conversely, users with a laptop and a 3G card -- a setup less subject to battery life concerns than phones -- can eat capacity on carrier networks with video downloads, uploads, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.
That's why Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is planning to put a 5 GByte cap on data users on its "mobile broadband" and "phone as modem" flat-rate data plans starting July 13. A Sprint spokeswoman says that a "very small percentage" of computer users on the plans were using lots of data, typically with P2P traffic. Other carriers in the U.S. have also capped some of their data plans.
Heavy Reading's Brown says there is less concern about phones taking too much network capacity. "Charge anxiety is a natural hedge for operators offering flat-rate data plans, because it stops users consuming too much data on their handsets," he says. This could change as video-capable phones become more widespread.
3. It's too expensive Mobile video can be an expensive little pastime. At the base level, users are looking at a $200 smartphone and a $60 -- or more -- data plan to watch video. These costs can rise if you want to watch on a fancy iPhone or Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) N-series handset. This isn't even taking into account any premium downloads that content providers and carriers offer.
4. Too many formats There are just too many formats that a mobile video developer can potentially write to. For instance, Flash Lite from Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) seems to be popular and a natural choice for developers, since popular sites like YouTube Inc. use the format for their videos. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), however, has made it clear it isn't keen on the Flash format. What's a content developer to do? (See Microsoft Gets Flashed and iPhone & YouTube.)
5. User-generated crap Weird things happen when people get creative with their cellphones, as this video shows:
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