The mobile platform finally seems to show some signs of living up to the widespread expectations as mobile entertainment in the form of movies, TV-series, audio podcasts, music, and ultimately mobile streaming appears to be the next big challenge after the introduction of the mobile web for content providers and telecommunications service providers respectively. Actually the current situation could be compared with the commencement of the stationary Internet, where highly compressed data was sent over relatively slow networks to operate profitably and today we talk about mobile data streams limited in size for audio and video files. Again there is the challenge to ensure a kind of quality to please consumers, which is right now the big ordeal for telcos. They have to achieve a balance between qualitative reasonable content and the necessary speed to guarantee a smooth and fast data download and transfer.

At railway stations or airports, the streaming velocity, or the file size isn’t really a problem anymore, since the transmission there can be realized via WLAN and sending through several MB/s isn’t nowadays considered an effort. So what else can be done to bring mobile entertainment momentum to head?

Well, first of all we have to be assured that we won’t lose sight of the following quality requirements that today’s spoiled Web 2.0-users generally expect from mobile entertainment, namely:

  • A multi-compatible format than can be played on as many mobile-/smart phone-operating systems as possible
  • An acceptable streaming quality by using the smallest possible memory consumption
  • Keeping the waiting period down, depending on the speed and traffic
  • Use of streaming technology that allows one to intervene during the consumption actively into the transfer and change the playback position (non-linear)

As measured by these criteria, it can be stated that the MP4 format with inserted H.264 codec has been largely established on the Web, providing a very good measure of quality especially with regards to its relatively low memory consumption. Therefore, the leap into the mobile streaming world shouldn’t be too difficult to make and data transmissions still rely on well-known protocols such as HTTP. In any case: why not revert to a streaming provider rather than reinventing the wheel.

Streamezzo for instance is such a provider of mobile embedded rich media solutions. The company is a leading player in the industry due to its Universal Software Platform that enables the design, development and deployment of compelling rich media mobile services that operate on virtually any mobile device. Its software framework, client-server architecture and pre-built rich media service components provide an end-to-end platform that allows virtually any organization to create and deliver mobile services and applications offering a great user experience. The platform is based on an innovative and insightful client-server architecture in which a customized client application (on the device) and Streamezzo’s content server software create an “abstraction layer” which operates “above” the fragmentation caused by the industry’s lack of true mobile standards. Indeed, Streamezzo’s mobile open development platform allows to design, create and deploy quickly and easily Mobile TV applications for all major mobile operating systems such as Android, BlackBerry, Brew, IPhone, Java, Linux, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile and is interoperable with a wide variety of mobile networking standards and protocols, including: GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, CDMA, EVDO, and WiFi. With their cross-platform technology, mobile operators can extend their reach in terms of subscribers and accelerate their return on investment.

This all looks fine, but what could be the ‘killer application’ that will push the mobile industry even faster forward and make it really start to live up to the widespread expectations. According to Streamezzo’s spokesperson Julien Amouroux: “It’s simply an application delivering a service or an answer to a real need or in itself creating a need (e.g.: facebook).  But the question, that we constantly face, is how to transform a useful application in the “killer app”. We have found that even though the application purpose is very important, it is the resulting hype and the buzz associated to this application that makes it truly strategic. (e.g. Obama or Armstrong using twitter). And if we accept this fact, we also accept the fact that a killer App could have a short life cycle because buzz and hype are always ephemeral. For example, an application which lets you vote for your favorite characters of a Reality TV Show could reach a large audience. But once the show is over, the application usage will dramatically decrease”. “At Streamezzo we believe the only applications which can be qualified as killer apps combining usage and long life cycle, are the embedded Apps Store. These applications are a market place delivering always new and fresh daily applications according to the developer’s creativity or to the marketing’s plan. And if you look at the industry trend everybody is looking for its own AppStore”, he added.

Asked about his vision for the future of mobile streaming in Asia, he said: “With the increasing implementation of 3G networks in the Asian region the use of high bandwidth technologies, like streaming video, is set to increase. In Asia, there are several “emerging countries”, where the handset isn't the 3rd or 4th screen but more like the only screen in the household, so services like video streaming will increase as handset prices drop and networks evolve. In countries like Australia, where there are huge distances of rural landscape, we see streaming standards evolving into more broadcast technologies that are ultimately less intensive on the 3G network and therefore less expensive to deliver in services. As content becomes more customized for handset viewing – e.g. shorter and more specialized clips – we see the industry really picking up.” As more handsets will be released over the next 12 months that have larger screens and are therefore more suitable to watch video, Streamezzo hopes to see the Mobile TV industry gain momentum.  “The major tier 1 Telco’s in the Asia region are really gearing up for more “connected” devices and targeting mobile TV usage across these devices, Julien said.  Encouragingly, we are seeing increased penetration of 3G and advanced devices that enable a better mobile data user-experience day by day.”

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By Daniela La Marca