Thursday, April 29, 2010

Video, the Killer App - April 29th

By Dmitry Shapiro

Many tout video as the next killer app for the mobile device. But what is involved in bringing video to the phone?

It turns out there are multiple steps. First the video must be encoded (if source is analog) or trans-coded (if source is digital) into the proper format for the target mobile device.
If the video is to be viewed on multiple devices, then a separate device-specific file is required for each. At this point, metadata, which describes the video, its title, location for ads, etc, is added to the trans-coded file.
Next, the video is encoded in multiple bit rates in order to satisfy the variability of bandwidth available to the user at his location. Typically high, medium, and low bit rates are used, but more flexibility here gives a better viewing experience on the other end.
Finally, these multiple files must be stored where they can be accessed by the Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs have many, many servers in geographic locations close to the users to allow them scale delivery of the video content to 1000s of users simultaneously.

So how does all this look from user perspective? Well, when a user clicks a URL on his mobile device, the request is sent to the CDN. The CDN notes the user’s device and bandwidth, then finds the video in the appropriate format and bit rate on the storage server, then sends it the requesting device. And, voila: cats are playing the piano on your phone!

In summary, if video is indeed YOUR killer app, make sure you have all the pieces in place to deliver it to your target audience.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From Analog to 4G -April 21

By Kishore Ballal
A few of us remember the first analog phone with a really long antenna and weighing as much as a brick. Then came the digital revolution, with much more modern and pretty cool phones. I still remember the first ATT plan; 19.99$ for 40 minutes of usage within the network! And that was 12 years ago.

Texting being common in other parts of the world was not available in the US back then. We saw the mega talking plans of 300 minutes usage + weekends free, followed by friends and family free. The revolution kicked off the next level when operators in the US upgraded to a 2.5G network (EDGE, or 3G voice cards). The young generation of youth/college kids replaced the landlines with cell phones.

Then the 3G upgrade happened in 2006 in the US and the now familiar “all you can eat/call” mobile plans came into existence. Thus the cellphone penetration went through the roof.

In fact, operators used to charge per MegaBit (MB) and most consumers did not know what it was, so users did not value content. No industry can survive with shrinking revenues. But the 2 biggest game changers were the iPod/iTunes and the Amazon Kindle. Now, consumers were charged not for “data” but for content: buying songs, buying books, downloading movies, playing games, etc.

The bandwidth constraint is now pushing operators into the next level of technology; 4G where LTE or WIMAX are the big standards. The idea is the ability to pay for content where the operator is no longer a pipe, but gets a share of the content revenue (movies, books, games, songs, etc).

If you think 4G is not really needed, think about it this way; every major technology step takes about 6 years: Analog in early 90s, 2G digital in 1999/2000, 3G in 2006, full 4G adoption/acceleration in 2012. Operators are already building the bandwidth beginning in 2010. Widgets and cloud services, video, mobile TV and music streaming will push the bandwidth to it´s limits.
So there will be 4G, it will be needed and we will enjoy it! The future is truly mobile and then content is finally the king.

Monday, April 19, 2010

100 years from now -April 19th

By Magnus Ingelsten
What do we imagine 100 years from now? Did HG Wells, in his book "When the Sleeper walks" in 1899 imagine the I-pad for Video viewing when he writes and describes a modern media player as a “flat square with a smaller picture that was very vividly colored”? Not only where there people on the screen moving, but they were conversing with clear small voices as he continued to describe it.

And did Mark Twain envision the internet already in 1898 when writing about the "The improved 'limitless-distance' telephone that was presently introduced, and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues." He described a global communications network called the telelectroscope that allowed us to see and hear through. Spot on. ..almost.

So what do we for see 100 years from now or is everything already invented? Hardly, but surely everything becomes much more advanced and involves scientific complexity and in many cases micro chips, software ad wireless technologies and thus very far far from inventions such as the wheel or the potato peeler!

Could we in 100 years have the mobile artificial you? Perhaps we can by choice produce avatars that are incarnations of ourselves that travel through room and space electronically and virtual and perform our duties and live our lives. No more hours spend on airplanes. All good for environment. We can experience and control business meetings, holidays and new encounters by means of the chip we have in our brain and only our status in society can determine how many avatars we have in life, and thus our focus is to live for long, distanced from the real raging world outside the control tube we live in with artificial air.
Oh my god, hope not.. Instead hope we and our children can still physically sit on an exotic beach and make a call to friends. And experience through a multimedia device what happens at home, read any book, listen to any music share anything with anybody of our choice, buy and sell and by doing so experience great freedom and efficiency. The good thing is, seems we are there already.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

When an apple is better than an orange -April 8th

By Magnus Ingelsten

7 years ago the mobile world was completely different. It was all about telephony, SMS, MMS, PIM and business usage. You uploaded ripped MP3 music files to your mobile and it competed with MP3 players. The multinational music corporations were standing appalled to see their music got copied and stolen from various web servers.

Then Apple having introduced their I-Pods, which totally outdid the MP3 player market, launched i-Tunes. In one week (yes 1 week) Steve Jobs could simply confirm that they had become the world’s leading music distributor on the web with one million downloads (April 2003).

In February Apple gave away a grand price of 10.000 USD to the customer that got their web counter doing 11 digits (10 billion downloads). Now is´t that a success? The real boost for downloads came with the release of the I-Pod Touch and the I-Phone.

During this time the share price increased from 7 to 200 USD (2003-2010). Over the last year alone the share price has risen with 120%.

Now the I-Pad is launched, and it will be a success. First day 300.000 units sold, over one million apps were purchased, over 250,000 books downloaded. (The i-Phone sold 270.00 units on it´s introduction day three years ago). And it is a movie player and you can get movies from i-Tunes from 1.99 USD. And it’s a game player and it is a e-reader, and it can become a .... ?

Tonight, April 8th I-phone 4.0 will be presented to the assembled press in Cupertino. And what about their i-Ad, mobile advertising service? The screen on i-Pad and iPhone is a great real estate that can be sold to agencies and connected to distribution of content from i-Tunes.

Again, the mobile world has changed dramatically, and we sure know that an apple is different from an orange or a pear.