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This blog begins a multi-part series that suggests ideas by which our customers could deploy and monetize video applications. Most of these ideas (as stated) are as yet un-tested in the industry, but we believe there is enough value in the ideas to encourage our more clever readers to enable or launch a service or two which might prove successful.
There are two major inflection points occurring in the communications industry today that we need to take advantage of:
The first item refers to how users will access video. We argue that the future of video lies with mobile handsets because video can often be a very personalized experience and yet, the social networking tools available on these handsets still allow people to share that experience with others. The inflection point lies in the roll-out of LTE, femtocells and automotive WiFi, where true IP broadband networking can be brought to the handset in a ubiquitous fashion without the artificial constraints imposed by circuit switched elements.
The second item refers to the way people view video. We abuse the term: "webification' to signify that user's viewing preferences are trending towards the type of experience they obtain while viewing video on a web page. The broadcast industry has acknowledged that this seems to be an increasingly popular way to view content because so much more information can be made available to the end user and the ability to interact with the content is driving more demand. While this is especially true about younger viewers, it appears to affect all age groups. This type of experience reflects today's need to multi-task and to watch content when it better fits people's schedule.
The first steps in this evolution came with the ubiquity of the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) and the emergence of web-based video download services such as YouTube and WebTV (BBC, NBC etc.). The DVR enables people to view broadcast content in a way that fits their schedules and the WebTV viewing experience enables the user to access related content immediately, without having to wait for it to be scheduled. With the emergence of techniques that allow people to transfer DVR content to their handset, we expect to see an even greater emphasis on this viewing technique.
The essence is a viewing experience that allows people to watch what they want, when they want, where they want, with the ability to interact with the content and explore the wealth of information associated with the content.
For now, we will stick to application scenarios that use the mobile handset. However, it would not be difficult to extend these applications to the PC or set top box (which may indeed be your future femtocell).
Before we dive into the application scenarios, it needs to be understood that for the most part, these scenarios are grounded in the assumption of true broadband mobile data access. This means there may not be a circuit switched pipe and therefore no need for a traditional media gateway to bridge between dissimilar networks.
Now I know this could be a turn-off for some of you, but we all need to acknowledge that the mobile broadband access network of the near future will behave like a traditional IP distribution network and will be isolated from the IMS IP network by more or less traditional IP switching and routing gear.
Although 3G HSPDA networks will be providing near-broadband like services using the new series of smart phones hitting the market, we can see the demand for these services driving mobile operators more quickly to true broadband access. This is evident from all the "Application" stores rolling out with the major smart phone vendors. These services (variations on calling, texting and data access), are all accessible via the broadband network IP pipes which are, for the most part, "over-the-top" services that bypass the traditional mobile carrier voice and messaging access network.
Some may argue that such networks are still several years away, but the very fact that Verizon Wireless is launching LTE services in Boston and Seattle next year, leads me to believe that such networks are closer than people think.
The traditional concept of a multimedia 'gateway' will morph into a function which is provided with SAAS architectures. We must keep in mind that any such 'gateway' device would be necessary for the network operator not only for purposes of monitoring, but primarily for introducing or altering content for the benefit of the operator themselves who need to find a better way to monetize the bits flowing through their networks. Otherwise, the more likely path for the end user would be to access the HTTP content servers using an 'over-the-top' method that would bypass the operator services. Mobile operators cannot afford to let this happen or they will not be able to pay for the expansion of their networks.
So this forms the background to the series of blogs which I hope will inspire people to go out and create or enable services to make money in video. Stay tuned.