Monday, July 24, 2006

Forrester Research: Let's not get too excited about mobile video

Josh Bernoff at Forrester Research takes a closer look at the market for mobile video. While MobiTV has 1 million subscribers, "movies come out on Playstation Portable, and Apple has sold (as of last announcement) 15 million downloadable videos at $1.99 a piece," he is still underwhelmed with the potential for the following reasons:

  1. It's too small. The right size for video is a 42-inch plasma or LCD screen -- and that makes for an awfully big phone, don't you think? Instead we have the very nice 2.5-inch screen of the video iPod and the similar small screen of the PSP (and the even smaller screens of most mobile phones). Now if you happen to be running on the treadmill at the gym, or waiting for the bus, this will do. But it's no way to watch video that's produced at 1 million dollars per half hour.
  2. It's too expensive. Forget the cost of the devices. Video online generally requires a subscription, and most people don't want to pay. Forrester's surveys show that even among the youth that are supposed to be all excited about this, less than 10% are willing to pay even a token amount. And advertising, which supports the rest of TV content, isn't a factor here. Advertisers need measurement, which is missing. And they need an effective delivery of video messages that's biggest enough to make an impression (see 1. It's too small.) And I'm not convinced consumers will put up with ads in mobile video, especially if they have to pay some amount for it as well.
Bernoff concludes:
So, where do I come down? Mobile video will become a niche market. There will be people interested in it, and there will be lots of content, but compared to television -- hell, even compared to online streaming video, which is doing great -- it will look very, very small.