Drivers for Video and their Overlap with Mobility

By Ivan Gevirtz

created: Thursday, October 20, 2005
updated: Wednesday, February 08, 2006

For Clique to succeed, we must understand what situations are fundamentally enhanced by the addition of video.  It is clear that in many situations where voice is appropriate, video is quite undesirable.  I don't want to have to brush my hair to talk to you.  Additional video related constraints, such as sitting in front of a computer, often have the effect of making video less convenient and useful than just simple voice.  Which begs the question, when does a user want or need video?

So far, with video, I've thought of a few.

Given these properties, it seems like there is a major overlap with the drivers for mobility:

As such, I think Clique should have a major initiative to enable mobile video.  Video post cards from your phone.  It doesn't have to be two way video, nor does it even have to be real time.  But the phone should be considered a very interesting input device, and to a lesser extent display device.  There are currently hundreds of millions of camera phones shipping every quarter.  Compare this with the fact that there are essentially zero laptops shipping with built in cameras.  And these phones are with people when they are doing interesting things.  Even more so than camcorders.  And think about the impact camcorders have had on news collection, funny video collection, crime solving, etc...

I imagine using the phone as a video input device.  I think that initially we should keep it simple, and work within the existing infrastructure provided by the carriers.  Allow users to use MMS (Multi-Media Messing Service) to send video clips via their cell phones.  Some carriers allow users to send them via email.  Some carriers send an email with a link to their server to retrieve that data.  I propose building technology which would allow us to automatically collect this data, and perhaps post it to our VlogCrazy site.  This would include an email alias, and perhaps an agent which downloads the clip from the carriers web site.  Using the camera phone as an input device for vlogging seems like a big win in usability, and may be just the feature we need to differentiate ourselves from MySpace or blogging sites.  There are already sites which do this for static images taken on camera phones.  Let's be the first and best for videos!  Imagine building up local communities of people taking interesting videos of local current events and posting it.  Local politician drunk at bar!  Little tykes race bikes!  A tool for democracy.  And, this could enable my fabled "Celebrity Stalker Service".

Also, we should be able to send video to the handsets.  This is all about the 5 minutes while waiting for the bus.  They should be able to browse to our WAP-type site and see the clip, or get the clip via MMS.  I bet some carriers allow us to send email to a specially formatted email address and they'll put it on the network like MMS.  I know many carriers do this via SMS.  It would also be neat to be able to watch any Yahoo or Google video on their phones.  Image transcoding technology may be required for this.

Both these approaches would enable us to build up a database of users who generate and view content.  We should be able to monetize this data, and perhaps have the users see ads.  It is also interesting as a technology play for carrier acquisition, because the carrier could charge the user for this enhanced video capabilities.

In Mobile Video, I describe an interesting business opportunity.