Video goes mobile

Smartvideo Canada, a Toronto-based communications provider (HQ'd in Atlanta) might hold the next killer app: streaming video straight to your cellphone.

Smartvideo Canada, a Toronto-based communications provider (HQ’d in Atlanta) might hold the next killer app: streaming video straight to your cellphone.

While there are a few other solutions for cellphone streaming video in-market, Richard Bennett, president and CEO of Atlanta, Ga.-based Smartvideo Technologies, says that unlike others, Smartvideo’s technology allows full streaming (rather than stop-motion images) over today’s phones, where bandwidth is limited to 40 kilobits/sec, and does not require users to download any proprietary software. ‘Smartvideo uses cellphones as they are,’ he says.

Back in Canada, Mark Webster, president, Smartvideo Canada, says content providers are excited about the technology. He says Smartvideo has signed 20 marketers in the U.S., including NBC and Fox News, and is negotiating with 15 more in Canada.

Webster predicts content providers will condense a half-hour broadcast to a five- or 10-minute slot.

Roma Khanna, VP interactive of Toronto-based broadcaster CHUM Television, uses the services of another competing streaming services company, QuickPlay Media.

CHUM broadcast its MuchMusic Video Awards this summer to cellphones on a closed circuit as a test. Khanna was ecstatic with the result.

‘It looked so much better than people thought. The sound quality was better. You could really see how it would be useful if you weren’t near a TV,’ she says.

Toronto’s Sony Music (Entertainment) Canada has met with Smartvideo and is similarly interested. ‘We’re always looking for ways of getting our content out to mobile customers,’ says Karen Samuels, VP digital services. ‘This seems to be less cumbersome than downloading a video.’

Samuels says Sony remains in the ‘investigative stages’ with the technology, but expects content to begin rolling out some time in 2005.

So is this app the next big thing? Bennett offers up these numbers: According to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based In-Stat/MDR, a digital communications research firm, the current video consumption on cell devices is valued at US$50 million and is expected to grow to $1.7 billion by 2007.