Will Mobile Video-Sharing Services Take Off? - InformationWeek

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6/6/2007
11:50 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Will Mobile Video-Sharing Services Take Off?

AT&T will be launching its Video Sharing service this summer. The services are being pitched to consumers rather than enterprises right now. This is unfortunate. The enterprise uses of shared video are practically unlimited.

AT&T will be launching its Video Sharing service this summer. The services are being pitched to consumers rather than enterprises right now. This is unfortunate. The enterprise uses of shared video are practically unlimited.Today, IP Unity Glenayre announced some new technology that will connect video calls from 3G-enabled handsets to non-video phones. The basic thrust here is if someone initiates a video call to someone who has a non-video phone, the call will still go through. That's a good thing, because the only video-sharing service in the U.S. will be via AT&T, and requires that both participants have 3G coverage.

"Video is the key differentiator between 2G and 3G mobile offerings, yet consumers haven't experienced video calling because many networks don't seamlessly handle video call completion to non-video handsets," said Stan Little, senior vice president of marketing at IP Unity Glenayre in a prepared statement. "Video to Audio Connection enables the voice portion of the video call to be received by the non-video user so the call can be completed. This new technology will increase adoption of mobile video, and enable operators to secure valuable revenue, which is currently being lost by a lack of call completion."

This is cool and all, but what about really driving the adoption of full video sharing services? The rest of the press release goes on to explain how great this service will be for consumers. Where is the enterprise pitch? Enterprises, after all, typically have bigger bank accounts to spend on such services.

The value in being able to share live video is phenomenal. And I am talking about more than just video conferences. Think of field force workers who need to repair equipment. They could pass the phones over and around whatever object it is that needs fixing and share that feed with someone who may be able to assess or guide any repairs. EMTs could send a feed of an injury to the emergency room while en route so the physicians have a better idea of what they'll need to do when the injured person arrives. The list goes on and on.

But the network remains a big component of the service's adoption. AT&T's 3G coverage extends to "most major metropolitan areas" but not vast rural stretches of the U.S. This will leave out many enterprise and consumer adopters of the technology.

The service will also require properly equipped handsets. So far, these handsets have all been consumer oriented. We'll need to see some smartphones with dual cameras and 3G data radios before the enterprise can really take video sharing seriously.

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