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.

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