The Future of Mobile Video?

by Chuck Martin on July 25, 2011

About a week or so ago I was speaking with someone about a large, empty building Apple was sitting on in North Carolina.

We were discussing potential uses for a building that we read about in a posting by Robert X. Cringely. The building, a reported $1 billion data center in Maiden, NC, remains empty and the blog speculated it to be about a million square feet, large by any measure.

Not sure it’s actually a million square feet, but for the sake of argument let’s presume it’s very big.

Then the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is looking at maybe acquiring Hulu, the video-streaming company looking to sell itself.

Hulu’s owners include Comcast, Providence Equity Partners and Disney, wit the Steve Jobs-Pixar connection.

So what could Apple, sitting on $76 billion, as the Journal pointed out, do with Hulu? Keep it as a streaming video service, of course, and try to figure how to monetize that model.

But what if Apple re-engineered Hulu and changed the entire video model to focus on video delivery to mobile devices?

Research consistently shows that consumers watch and want to watch video on mobile. Maybe not entire movies yet, but video.

And then there’s the growth of the tablet market, on the way to 50 million units, coincidentally being led by none other than – wait for it – Apple!

First came the Web, then YouTube. Google got that one.

Now comes mobile and the revolutionary video model for mobile hasn’t yet been invented.

Could this be Apple’s turn? With more than five billon cellphones globally with a steady migration to smartphones, the installed base dwarfs the size of the TV market (two billion units) or PCs (one billion).

The first phase of each new medium involves the porting of features from the previous medium. For example, a local newspaper makes its online pages look the same as in the print edition or a half-hour TV episode is posted online.

In the second phase of a medium’s transformation companies exploit the characteristics of the new medium and reinvent the way things are done, as YouTube showcased millions of hours of user-generated content on a platform that didn’t exist pre-Web.

One study that we wrote about in The Third Screen pointed out that almost half of smartphone owners who watch mobile video say they watch something they wouldn’t watch on TV. This is one indicator that there could be the potential to create something totally different from current programming offerings.

This is not about moving TV to mobile but rather re-inventing video for it.

One of the large coming phases of the mobile revolution will involve video. The question is will it be Apple, one of the other mega-tech players or a few kids working right now in a garage or someone’s apartment inventing the future of mobile video.

 

 

 

 

Chuck Martin is author of The Third Screen; Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, The Smartphone Handbook, CEO of Mobile Future Institute, Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications and a highly sought-after mobile marketing speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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