Sprint and Verizon Stalk Film-Festival Circuit

tvoncellphone.gifIt would appear that the Howard Stern & XM Radio deal has scared the hell out of cell-phone providers. Cingular has partnered with HBO, and Sprint and Verizon are hunting for "short films suitable for the size-challenged cell-hone screen," according to Newsweek. Nokia is setting up a tent at the Los Angeles Film Festival to show off its mobile-video phones and technology, Newsweek reports.

Is there anyone else that finds this a bit ridiculous? Naturally we'll be using cell phones as a primary media-consumption device in years ahead. Finland and Japan have proven this. But I find it weird that some phone providers are going directly to film festivals for two reasons:

  1. This stretches these cell-phone providers well beyond their core competency. Ultimately, they'll need an intermediary familiar with media and with the ability to broker deals. Credit to Cingular for recognizing this. Verizon or Sprint should connect with MTV.
  2. Right idea, but wrong place. In the short term, we're not going to watch even 5-10 minute clips. Cell providers should be looking at partnerships with Atom Films, Break.com or any owner of stupid, funny, short clips. Then worry about longer form and tasteful content.
  3. If the cell providers really want to get "bleeding edge" they should go directly (short term) to viral-video creators like ZeFrank or EvilFist.*

Note: The writer of this blog is friends with EvilFist (even though the feeling isn't mutual). Since this blog produces zero revenue, it's not above self promotion.

Get Ready for a Remote-Control “Thumb Cramp”

remote.jpgRight now you may channel surf between 100 to 500 channels, according to this article from The Mercury News. But Internet protocol television (IPTV) — television broadcast over the Internet  — could change that. An estimated 49 million Americans already have the gear and broadband connections needed to receive IPTV, and this will allow for a huge varitey of "small audience" programming that can include local athletic events, personalized business news and low-budget independent films or clips.

"We're on the eve of a television revolution that proponents say could change how you watch your favorite shows – and who produces them," says writer Ely Portillo of Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Video Resolution to Get Worse Before Better

old-cam.jpgWe're all getting used to crappy video online. It may stream quickly, but it's a pixelated as Atari's original Space Invaders.

Will this improve soon? Not for the most part. Sure some of us will upgrade to higher end pro-sumer video cameras ($3000-$10,000). And broadband will allow for higher file-size uplpoads than the typical 100 meg cap. But the vast majority of us will start using our video-enabled cell phones to capture a lot of spontanious, viral videos. So in aggregate, the videos of 2007 will be even uglier than 2006.

Bandwidth isn't yet an issue online, but keep in mind that Japan's wireless broadband is signficantly faster than what you're using now to connect at home. There won't be an incentive for cell providers in the U.S. to bring us high definition video cameras because nobody will want to spend 5-10 minutes sending their video clips to their buddy. So until cell phone pipes expand in the U.S., we're going to be stuck with grainy footage for a while.

The high-end sites will boast broadcast-like quality video, but the vast majority of consumer-generated video will look worst next year. Let's hope that I'm wrong or that someone's creating a software to enhance videos.

… Like in the movies when they turn a 10-pixel image of some guy at his desk into a "Kodak clear" image, in which you can read the legal print on the memo on his desk. Does that bother anyone else, or am I just a geek (don't feel obliged to answer that)?

YouTube is a Giant Conference Call

concall.jpgI've been trying to figure out how YouTube managed to surpass video-sharing sites like Break.com, despite arriving to the market far later. Then it occured to me what may already be obvious to you. Most video sites are searchable television stations… putting the visitor in command to find video that appeals.

YouTube, however, is a giant conference call. It's made up of video posters watching and commenting on other video posters. They're connected, they have popularity (or lack of), and they react to each other. YouTube has recently launched the ability to send a video reaction to someone's video (instead of just leaving a comment). It's closer to MySpace in the social networking aspect. And it's what people want out of online video.

So despite previous posts, I think there will be a future for YouTube after the "wild west" era of copyright protection ends. It won't be as dramatic, but it will be there.

Interestingly, though, some of the popular video creators of YouTube are starting to migrate their content to other channels that give them income. For instance, YouTube idol, Morbeck, began posting on Revver.com (a site that gives creators half of the revenue generated by ad clicks). Others (like ZeFrank) are posting via Revver and asking people not to post it on YouTube or other online video sites.

YouTube’s Accidental Rocket: Whoa, duuuude.”

"There is a sense that YouTube accidentally built a rocket and is willing to hang on to see where it goes," observes Technology Writer Kevin Maney in an article from USAToday. "Co-founders Chen and Chad Hurley can be like the main characters in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, who go for joy rides in a time-traveling phone booth and marvel at where they land with a "Whoa, duuuude!""

Here are my other two favorite parts:youtube.jpg

  1. When I ask Hurley if advertisers are seeking out YouTube, he replies, "More than we can deal with. Potential partners — that's another wave of e-mails. We're having discussions with all the major studios, (record) labels and networks."

  2. What does all this mean to the media business? There isn't a soul who really knows — except to know it means that a tiny company above a Japanese restaurant can alter the balance of the entire industry.

P.S. I'm not a soul who knows either, but that doesn't stop me from blogging about it a few times a day.

Bus Uncle: I have PRESSURE

bus uncle.jpg

I've always maintained that web video can't be longer than 30 seconds to 2 minutes, but this 6-minute clip (Bus Uncle) provide otherwise- it will entertain you silly and you'll soon be quoting it.

Some poor 23-year-old in a Hong Kong bus tapped the shoulder of a real estate agent who was talking loudly on his cell phone. The guy (now known in Hong Kong as "Bus Uncle") proceeded to yell at the teenager for 6 minutes using absurd dialogue that appears to have been taken from a low-budget Japanese film. Luckily another guy across the bus captured the entire episode, and posted it to YouTube (where it has been watched several million times). Search"Bus Uncle" to find the original as well as a Karaoke version, the rap remix and the dance and disco take.

According to this CNN article, "Now Chan is rarely seen without an entourage. A business sells T-shirts and handbags. "Bus Uncle" Web sites have emerged, while there is an entry on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. His words on pressure have become an oft-repeated catchphrase in this teeming city."

Watch everything you do, folks. When U.S. citizens are armed with video cellphones, your next outburst could become an Internet phenomenon.

Looking Into Crystal Ball of Online-Video’s Future

Last night, Stephen King (of the Institute for the Future) was graceful enough to give me some video soundbytes about the future of online video. As you might expect, these get weirder each clip.
1) Stephen speaks about the eventual merger of online video devices (20 seconds)

2) How far out can the Institute predict? (1 minute)

3) Nalts thinks he's cool dining next to King (after a few Yeunglings) (13 seconds)