Live Video Just the Start in Mobile Evolution
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One big catalyst driving smartphone adoption is the evolution of mobile applications that let users grab e-mail, share documents, post Facebook updates and even watch live television.
Digital video provider Monsoon Multimedia offers a free downloadable Hava Mobile Player for the Nokia S60 handset, which allows users to watch and control home TV.
The technology is all about mobile video programming, which could soon feed road warriors everything from enterprise marketing to training materials.
"This is absolutely where mobile applications are going," Carmi Levy, senior vice president of strategic consulting for AR Communications, told InternetNews.com.
"They're going to a place where they increasingly define and support our on-the-go lifestyle, where each generation of applications and services is more accessible on more devices and in more places than the previous generation," he said.
Such mobile software innovation is just the beginning of what pundits and handset makers believe will ultimately determine who wins the smartphone device battle that's brewing as carriers fight for subscriber market share.
In fact a recent study, "Go mobile, grow," from IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Institute for Business Value claims that 80 percent of mobile device consumers want a service provider that offers more choice in terms of applications and services now available on a mobile device.
While 60 percent polled in the IBM study are interested in banking services, the report also notes that 53 percent want to use mobile TV services.
Worldwide mobile phone sales topped 1.15 billion last year, according to research firm IDC (NYSE: IDC), while Gartner (NYSE: IT) analysts report smartphones are expected to outsell laptops this year. IDC also forecasts an estimated 304 million smartphones in use by 2011.
In relation to television viewing, consumers want to view rich contents as well as movies and paid service programming, according to Colin Stiles, Monsoon's executive vice president of sales and marketing.
"The most recent research on mobile TV shows that there is significant potential for market growth between now and 2012," Stiles told InternetNews.com. Research indicates that the mobile place-shifting market will grow from the current $20 million to $35 million to revenue of $740 million by 2012.
Designed along with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) developers, the Hava Mobile Player integrates with Nokia's two-way slider multimedia devices so users can toggle between portrait and full-screen landscape mode. Users can watch live recordings, pause, rewind, skip and even schedule at home DVR recordings or control their home TV watching on the road.
The software works on high-speed 3G and High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) networks.
Nokia is pleased that Monsoons state-of-the art Hava video streaming now supports the leading smartphone platform worldwide, Rob Taylor, director of the Americas of Forum Nokia, Nokias global developer support program, told InternetNews.com.
Monsoon has created an elegant application for S60 that provides S60 users with the freedom to view high-quality live or recorded video anywhere, anytime, Taylor said.
In April, at the Mobile Future conference, Nokia's CTO, Bob Iannuci, spoke regarding how focusing on consumer need was critical to evolving mobile technologies.
One of Nokia's newest devices, the N95, is evidence of what's coming with mobile capabilities, according to Iannuci. The handset features seven radios, 11 antennas and two cameras, including one for video conferencing.
As of January, Nokia had shipped 150 million devices based on the S60, and the vendor now holds 53 percent of the global handset market share.
"This is not just about content, but providing the Internet experience and giving users great access," Sari Stahlberg, Nokia's director, product and technology marketing, mobile software sales and marketing, told InternetNews.com.
"It's much more than a simple phone," Stahlberg said.
That's one reason Nokia, along with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT), are pushing hard on mobile application development fronts.
New tools for developers
The handset vendors are providing new toolsets and lots of support for their respective developer communities.
Innovations at Nokia include sensor and gesture-based technologies, in which a handset reacts to shifts in a user's movements.
In development are applications that range from users being able to count their steps to playing games to using the devices to check workplace physical conditions, such as light and temperature.
"Right now we can flip a phone to quiet it. We eliminated pushing a button with sensor technology, but that's just the start," Stahlberg said. "We're just only at the beginning of developing new experiences for the mobile device user," she added.
Another mobile experience grabbing traction with users are navigational applications. One example is a new workforce-management tool used with GPS to help companies track time-sheet data collection, payroll integration, job-order management as well as worker-logistics data.
"New and future mobile apps will also continue to break down the barriers between traditional and nontraditional media," AR's Levy said.
"It's about the data, not the channel by which you've always consumed it," he added. And that means the floodgates for creative hybrid applications are only beginning to open."