Tag Archives: Nokia

MOFILM for More Mobile Content

If you’re interested in mobile content, you need to know about MOFILM,which, according to its website, “celebrates the intersection of art, commerce and technology in the fast evolving sector of mobile entertainment,” and also distributes independent film content to mobile operators and content service providers around the world. MOFILM just debuted its first film festival on February 18th and 19th, 2009 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in collaboration with the Mobile World Congress and sponsored by Chevrolet, Gigafone and Accenture. Mobile film festivals are an essential way of moving mobile content forward, exploring formats for mobile content, celebrating creatives who achieve success in the arena, and developing the aesthetics particular to the format.

For the first MOFILM Film Festival, participants submitted films of five minutes or less. A panel of leading experts selected the short list of five films, and the audience then voted for the winner with their cell phones. Winners were: Best Comedy (Frank Chindamo for English as a Second Language), Best Drama (Tor Kristoffersen for Enough), Best Documentary (The Science of Attraction by Claveski), Best Science Fiction (Star Chicks by Jay & Angela Lee) and Best Animation (Pushkin by Trevor Hardy). The overall winner was a close contest but in the end Frank Chindamo won the Chevrolet Cruse. [MobilizedTV will have an interview/story with Frank Chindamo early next week, so stay tuned.]

MobilizedTV had a chance to interview the MOFILM co-founder Ralph Cochrane, a pioneer of content for mobile and online services.

When was MOFILM founded and how has its mission evolved?

It started two years ago in 2007, the result of a dinner conversation in Chicago between the Sundance Institute and the GSM Association. The conversation went along the lines that the Sundance Institute is tasked with showcasing emerging filmmakers, they have a huge catalog and a number of submissions every year in the short film category. Two years ago, we had a huge issue of needing short, punchy clips for mobile. We asked the question, would it work on mobile? So we created a test at Barcelona. We took five leading filmmakers that Sundance recommended including Dayton & Ferris, Justin Lin (who directed Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift); Corey McAbee (the actor in American Astronaut); and the writer/director Jody Hill, now working with Seth Rogen and Maria Maggenti. That’s how we started. I was brought in because I was the ‘expert’ who knew how to deliver film to the phone. For us, it was a marketing project: trying something out in the Sundance lab style. The reaction was so positive we thought, maybe something is here.

What changes/evolution have you seen in mobile content over the years?

There are lots of changes. The biggest one is that compared to two years ago when people asked, Is this a good idea? We don’t even get asked that question now, because of the iPhone, as well as other phones from LG and others. The device size is no longer a problem, no longer an issue. The networks are much better, so you now can transmit content in that way.

There are ways of monetizing it. Look at the iPhone. You can actually make money off of content. It’s still developing; iPhone is the tip of the iceberg. People are much more aware of mobile also: there are 4 billion mobile phones in the world. It’s not just about content-either. If you can do something people want to share virally, like games or content, people are actually using it. So a lot has changed in two years.

Initially everyone thought mobile content had to be snack-sized in terms of length. Is that still true? Or do you see long-form gaining traction?

I think if you look at what Corey McAbee is doing with Stingray Sam, you can see he’s created content of 10 minutes in length, episodes, and that’s a format that’s becoming more popular. There has been some research done by Nokia to show the average viewing length for mobile TV, which is basically broadcast TV, is about 22 minutes. That’s the length of a 30-minute TV serial. You also have to bear in mind how it’s being paid for. It’s very similar to broadcast TV. There are advertisements, brought-to-you-by sponsorship preroll. It’s different than buying content on iTunes. But the technology and viewing shows that people will watch a reasonable length. People also side-load movies, but that’s probably a step too far for the market around the world.

What was it about English as a Second Language that made it a winner in the comedy category?

We had a review panel made up of the community, the people who create from around the world, so it wasn’t just English- speaking. We had people from Brazil and China. I think a couple of things about this entry really worked: it’s shot very well for mobile, it’s close-up, and it’s a topic–men and women interacting–that you can relate to . Oh, and it’s funny. I was slightly surprised, because I thought animation might win since it has less spoken dialog, and we had animation with no dialog at all. Overall, English as a Second Language won pretty narrowly over the animation genre because it wa a funny, well written script.

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Linux to Offer Seamless Mobile App & Content Sharing

Does Linux have a bright future in the mobile ecosystem? If you’re Andrew Shikiar, the director of global marketing for the LiMo Foundation, the answer is an emphatic yes. LiMo Foundation is an industryshikiar-21 consortium and non-profit corporation founded in 2007 and dedicated to creating an open, hardware-independent, Linux-based operating system for mobile devices. Shikiar sat down with MobilizedTV to talk about the foundation’s work and the future of Linux in the mobile ecosystem.image001

Which were the founding companies of LiMo?

The LiMo Foundation was founded by Motorola, Orange, NTT Docomo, NEC, Panasonic, Vodaphone and Samsung, a mix of operators and OEMs. All these companies that founded the organization had a history of delivering Linux-based handsets to consumers. What they quickly realized is that Linux is a powerful but fragmented technology for handsets, and that it made sense to find a layer of the operating system (O/S) on which they could collaborate while carving out room for differentiation and competition.

LiMo set out to create middleware part of the platform that would be common, that everyone could leverage and use, so that the rest of the mobile ecosystem could more efficiently create pertinent services and applications that would leverage that platform.

Give us some context to Linux as an operating system in the mobile arena.

There are so many operating systems, you can’t count the number of them in the mobile world. There are dozens of platforms. Your old phones had an input screen, they each had their own menu; the phone and O/S were one and the same. The idea you can implement a common O/S across devices really took root several years ago.There was no common platform until phones started getting smarter.

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Nokia Opens Hollywood Research Center

This morning, Nokia announced it has just opened a Nokia Research Center in Hollywood, headed by Rebecca Allen, who founded the Design/Media Arts Department at UCLA and previously held positions a rebeccaallen20041senior research scientist at MIT Media Lab Europe and “3D visionary” at Virgin Interactive Entertainment.

Other universities and research centers that Nokia Research Center collaborates with include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University in the US, the University of Cambridge, UK and Tsinghua University, China.

MobilizedTV interviewed Allen about the mission of the NRC and its potential relationships with and impact on the Hollywood film/TV industry.

MobilizedTV: Tell us a little about your background and how that serves you in your new position with Nokia.

Rebecca Allen: I joined Nokia in July of this year. I’ve spent many years at UCLA where I founded the Design and Media Arts Dept. For another 30 years I have been involved in emerging technolgies, particularly related to media and, as an artist and designer. I approach new technologies through my interest as an artist and designer but am also involved in and have fairly good knowledge of the technology as well. My feeling is if you want to do something creative with new technologies, you have to dig in and understand the tools. The better you know your tools, the more innovative things you can do with them. I also taught from way back that it was going to be important to have artists involved with these new tech were and have some kind of impact and influence on them, which is what got me to dive into research labs.

For me, it was an ideal job description. It’s rare that I can utilize the different parts of my hybrid background, and they were looking for someone with strong academic background in LA and with long-time experience working with media technologies in a research context. And they also wanted someone who was connected to the Hollywood community and that was something I felt comfortable with. And someone with a design background, or some knowledge of the design side. It is so rare to see a job description looking for these multi-disciplinary parts and exciting that I could bring experience to all these different areas.

MTV: What will the research center be doing? What’s your mandate?

RA: Our general mission is to look at what is unique about mobile media and where it might go in the future. Another nice thing, being in research, we’re able to be disruptive- to throw out new ideas and see if we can bring in innovation into the company. One focus we’ll have is “augmented reality.” What is important to me about the mobile space is that it takes us out into the physical world. It’s different from being locked up in a room staring at a monitor, be it a theater screen, TV screen or computer monitor.

With mobile, we’re allowed to be mobile–out in public places in the physical world. How can we have interesting and engaging entertainment using mobile? How can mobile entertainment be different from other entertainment we know? One thing we take advantage is the abilities of mobile devices such as GPS technologies. One idea might be a game where you play the game by going to different physical locations. You can connect that to social networking. We can use mobile devices’ cameras and GPS to, for example, take a picture of a building, have the computer can recognize the building and, in a game situation, it might be a clue.

I can also look at my display and see a virtual object that will give me a clue about where to go next. This is part of the mixed-reality technology where the computer is identifying some object in this space. Once the computer realizes it, it can bring up a fantasy object. The virtual objects or characters are clues that only appear when you’re at a certain location, or if you’re pointing your camera at a certain object. These are all ways to build up the augmented reality experience.

Another big area will be looking at new user interfaces, which is very exciting for me too – I’ve done a lot of work with human bodies, human motion, non-verbal communication. The idea of looking of this for more natural forms of interaction will also be an interesting area for us. When we’re out in the physical world, having a keyboard and mouse don’t make sense so exploring further the interfaces will make that particularly interesting.

MTV: Who are your Hollywood industry partners? How will you be working together?

RA: We haven’t announced Hollywood partners. I’ve been spending a chunk of my time talking to people. In the Los Angeles area, there are numerous interesting groups that look at technology tied in with media, often associated with media companies. We’re looking, in some cases, to collaborate with these media technology companies or even with a company generating media and interested in moving into the mobile space. We’re talking to some people and will talk to more who could be potential collaborators. Also, we’re looking at creative talent in the media industry. In my history, I’ve worked with talented artists who have always wanted to work with new technology, thinking about new ideas for mobile space. But we can’t announce anyone at this point.

Even in research, which is thought of very engineering/technology-focused. it’s crucial in these areas that you have strong creative design input all along the way from the beginning of your research. I’m comfortable with mixing these cultures; I’m a hybrid of these different cultures. This is why it’s important that we’re bringing in creative input from the beginning.

MTV: What would this look like?

RA: One thing I’d like to do is form a nice community of forward thinkers in Los Angeles. I’d like to organize a workshop or set of presentations for people to discuss new ideas. We’re in research, and part of our mandate is also to look farther out, where this will go, what will happen in five years in this space.

MTV: Will you work with the studios or bigger Hollywood institutions?

RA: I’m sure we’ll be connecting. I’m familiar with people at the studios. Even within the Hollywood environment, there are smaller compnies working with the Hollywood studios. I’d like to take advantge of that, to have some interaction with the larger studios but also a lot of work goes on in these smaller businesses. They’re often set up to look to the future. To be able to think and play with these new technologies, I’ll be looking at different-sized industries. Of course we’ll have the relationshp that’s started now with UCLA and USC.

MTV: What will be happening at the research center? What can we expect to see from it in the near future? Will this be open to the public or behind closed doors?

RA: I”m looking to have both public and behind-the-scenes. One nice quality of that in some of our research with the university, it’s intensively open to the public as well as research the university can share with other groups. And there will also be more proprietary work we’ll be doing that will specifically benefit Nokia that I won’t be able to reveal. We see a balance between those sides. By opening up some of the research areas, Nokia believes, it’ll help the whole field move forward. The feeling is that it’s good to keep innovation open to drive the future.

MTV: Where is the center? How many people are or will be staffing it?

RA: We’ve got a location now in Santa Monica where we plan to be for about a year. We’re also looking at a permanent location. Usually Nokia Research Labs are located close to a campus we’re involved with, but since we’re invovled with two campuses, we wanted to make sure we were central to them and a lot of media going on.

We should be at about 20 people, but we also have interns and visitors which will bring it up to probably 30 people . We’re getting staffed up, we’re actually hiring now. I’m looking for people who would come from both a user interface design, user experience and be knowledgeable about the technology and various areas of technology and development.

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How to Mobilize Existing Content

From the Mobile Content & Marketing Expo

San Jose, CA–Kevin Davis, president/CEO of Hollywood.com, Russ Lujan, president/COO of New Media Broadcasting Company and Nitin Bhandari, CEO/co-founder of Skyfire, moderated by Mark Jacobstein, CEO of iSkoot, talked about one of MobilizedTV.com’s favorite topics: how to mobilize existing content.

Russ Lujan and Kevin Davis

Russ Lujan and Kevin Davis

The panel discussed the best examples of mobilized content. Davis lauded a competitor, Flixster on the iPhone. “What they do effectively is give context around a transactional decision,” he said. Bhandari, a self-described sports nut, praised ESPN’s mobile offerings on his phone. “It doesn’t just give you scores but engages me with other information,” he said. Lujan liked the Twitter mobile solution, which incorporates the community aspect of dynamic media.

With regard to revenue models, Hollywood.com is advertiser-supported. Davis pointed out that iPhone applications are hot for sister company MovieTickets.com. “A graphic ad gets lots of click-throughs because it’s the only graphic thing on the ad, but that will change,” he said. “If it’s the one graphic thing on the page, people will click.” Bhandari said that long-term, advertising has a lot of potential. “I think there is no reason why CPMs and CPAs can be as good as those online,” he said. “There’s intense personalization and you can do click-to-call. As I see it, there is so much inventory, people are experimenting. It’s not a line-item budget. Everybody is aggressively optimistic that that model will work.” Lujan noted the shift to IP-based communication. “The business model is monthly re-occurring revenue and revenue sharing which could be ad-supported or subscription based for premium content,” he said. “There’s a whole new set of opportunities for the IP-based content, where you by-pass the telco structure.”

Technical and business changes in the next 12 months that will impact mobile content include all-you-can-eat data plans, pointed out Jacobstein. “You take advertising, and add context and already your CPMs are higher,” said Davis. “Technologies that know where you are and can give you something based on that have tremendous potential. The more accurate and behavioral we can get, the better.” Lujan noted that content collaboration, with mash-up capabilities for users to co-create with professional content and pass it a long, is a game changer. “In addition to that, how do you manage all your content?” he said. “You can synch your data, but how to you access it, store it, collaborate with it. This goes to key areas.” The open handset is focusing every other manufacturer to open up. “When the Sony Ericssons and Nokias sell those, it’ll be interesting to see what they open up to,” said Jacobstein, who noted that these manufacturers’ handset sales dwarf Apple’s.

Is the mobile phone a PC in your pocket? Jacobstein asked the panelists if they agreed. “This is a fundamental question,” said Davis. “We went through a major re-design, and even on this most amazing device that changed my life [the iPhone], it doesn’t work. We have to decide where this fits into our business model.” Bhandari joked he should try it on Skyfire, to laughter. Lujan said the PC and mobile phone are converging in some ways but not all ways. “We’re nearing earlier generation PC platforms on the handset,” he said. “It does have the mobility factor. If you’re a professional content producer, you still have to tune the content for the different devices, and there has to be a content management system to get it out to all those different devices. We’re probably a generation or two out from the mobile phone being what the PC can provide.”

“The technical answer is that the mobile phone is absolutely a PC,” said Bhandari. “It’s not as good as the PC of today that we’re all used to. But then part of me thinks that thinking of it as a PC is a failure of imagination. It’s so much more. It’s always on, always with you, nobody else uses it. It’s way more than a PC.”

In a discussion about creativity and the mobile phone, Davis said he foresees something scary in the future: mobile stalking. “It’s not unforeseeable,” he said. “The paparazzi culture is already out of control.” The possibility of instant communication has been used to great and positive good in places like Southeast Asia. “But instantaneous can be a problem too,” agreed Jacobstein, noting the panic on Wall Street.

Education, training and other potential uses of the mobile phone were also touched on. “Why give the child a laptop when you can give them a mobile phone?” noted Davis. “Information services where time-to-market is important is another area of content for the mobile phone,” added Lujan.

“The big picture is, are there ways that we can help facilitate the community aspect?” said Davis, with regard to strategies to monetize Hollywood.com. “We see devices much differently than younger people. Long-term we need to think about more ways that content can be used. My job is to look at the ways that people are using phones that I don’t myself.”

For Skyfire, it comes down to feasible tests, said Bhandari. “You can get anything on the web onto this mobile device, but we want to do more,” he said. “Killer apps are entertainment, communication through social networks and email, and transactions. Those are the three things we focus on. We’re content agnostic. YouTube is a big site for us, but so is NFL.com.”

With regard to the NFL, Bhandari noted that NFL.com made a big deal with Sprint, making the games only available to Sprint subscribers. “We think that’s wrong,” he said. “Information wants to be free.” The moderator said that discovery was a big driver for him. “Finding content is key,” he said. “There’s a lot of great content and applications and a lot of people don’t know how to get to it.”

One audience member asked Bhandari why we need a proxy-based browser in the mobile world. “I feel over the last two years, browsers have come a long way,” he said. “What’s happening is that it lowers the cost of development. The 90/10 rule applies here: 90 percent of your engagement comes from the top 10 percent of devices. I feel like everything moves into the browser because it makes discovery easy, development less expensive. It’s expectations. We talk about mobile as a PC, and then you expect it to behave like a PC, and it’s not. That’s why we think that at least for now, the proxy browser.”

Jacobstein disagreed with Bhandari, noting that he didn’t think the browser would be ubiquitous on mobile for some time. There are intrinsic limitations to what browsers have access to, even on the PC, he added. “I would argue that the most interesting services that people will build will be completely integrated. The coolest thing on iPhone is that level of integration, and that takes more than a browser.”

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CTIA 2008: The Walls Are Crumbling…

In fairytales, things usually happen in threes. At CTIA 2008, I espied three trends that promise, if not a fairy tale ending, at least a major game change in the future of mobile usage in the U.S. The evidence was everywhere that the garden walls surrounding the carriers’ pick of content for mobile users is still there, but crumbling. Hastening the inevitable, broadband mobile Internet made a strong showing at CTIA, proving its inevitability. Lastly, the number of companies pitching easy ways for Internet content creators to “mobilize” their content was amazing. Since I’ve been a big proponent of all three of these directions for the mobile content market, I had a happy time at the show.

Let me just draw attention to a handful of the companies I met with and a few of the items that caught my attention. First, one of the stars of the show was RIM’s new clam-shell Blackberry Pearl 8220.

new Blackberry Pearl

new Blackberry Pearl 8220

I’m perfectly happy with my Blackberry 8830 World Edition, but if a clam-shell Blackberry rocks your world, more power to you. And the new Blackberry does have quad-band support so it’s a world edition too.

I also had a fun time in the Yahoo booth where I got their new voice search application downloaded to my Blackbery. It’s a lot of fun to play around with, although it can’t always make sense of what I say (and that’s probably not the application’s fault), I can easily correct what appears in the browser. For the free download, go here.

QuickPlay Media is all about trying to make the mobile internet experience successful, says vp of marketing Mark Hyland. “Our CEO Wayne Purboo’s vision was that networking speeds were going to get faster and that broadband wireless would be big,” he says. “We believe that you can’t take a PC web browsing experience and cram it on to a mobile device. Mobile is very location and context specific. It makes a difference where you’re using it.”

At CTIA 2008, the company began beta-testing a brand new service for media and entertainment customers to cheaply, quickly and easily publish video to the iPhone. “And ultimately to all video-enabled devices, but we’re focusing on iPhone first because of the interest,” says Hyland. “In 5 minutes you can take existing videos in any format and create a full video site for iPhone.” This new product is expected to be released by Q4 2008; the price is not yet set.

I checked in with Nokia‘s Kamar Shah with regard to Ovi, the company’s entertainment and media sharing service, as well as the company’s future plans in the entertainment space.Once again, the mobile Internet came to the fore. “From my perspective, in the area I work in, I want to show relevance of Nokia within this market in the Internet world,” he says. “I would justify that two-fold: we’re not taking the Internet and putting it on the mobile device. We’re redefining and evolving the Internet experience. That is based on what the consumer wants. Social networking makes up 20 percent of user time – after search and mail. It’s a phenomenon. We want to take that further and make it relevant to the consumer. We also have to make the advertising relevant, we have to get it right. There’s a very low tolerance for spam on the mobile phone.”

Referring to filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson’s “Africa Diary,” which he is shooting with his N95 camera, Shah also noted that this year Nokia partnered with MTV to supply N95s to the network’s journalists for Super Tuesday; content was streamed to MTV sites. Stay tuned to MobilizedTV for more news about Nokia and the entertainment world.

UIEvolution is an answer to the cacophony of mobile’s competing operating systems, devices and networks.”Mobile phones are so fragmented in terms of operating systems,” saysKeith O’Neill, vp, business development. “The thin client technology puts a layer of frosting that gives a seamless system so you can develop on top of that without worrying that it won’t work. We can work with PCs, STBs, consumer electronics devices , and automotive audio systems.”

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

Fragmentation prohibits growth and innovation because it becomes cost prohibitive for content creators without deep pockets, says O’Neill, and to that end, UIEvolution is rolling out Blender, a new web developer tool and service that takes web content–text, graphics and video–and mobilizes it. The business model is based on a revenue-sharing model. The web content creator pays a set-up fee, and then splits revenue with UIEvolution, the percentage of the split depending on volume. “For all that, we host and cover all the on-going device support.”

DeviceAnywhere was another interesting destination. Any content developer worried about making the video playable on the hundreds of devices out there can do so…remotely. DeviceAnywhere is an online service that provides access to hundreds of real handsets, on live worldwide networks, remotely over the Internet for developing, testing and porting. Once again, a great solution for web creatives who want to mobilize their content without becoming computer/wireless geeks.

Thumbplay launched Thumbplay Open, says president/CEO Are Traasdahl. “It gives the ability for any content creator to sell their content to 250 million wireless users across every carrier, operating system and handset,” he says. “It’s been hard for anyone creating content to get distribution because it’s beeen very carrier controlled. “The wall is down. Now it is one big happy garden.” The challenge has bee to build a platform that works not just across handsets and operating systems but across all billing systems and video codecs. “Our system is built so it automatically detects what handsest is trying to access the content and it converts on the fly to whatever the handset requires. Our system will convert to 2,500 different handsets and it’s all seamless.”

So far, the system is launched for visual artists and musicians, but will expand to video. Click here to try it yourself.

Once the content is uploaded into Thumbplay’s system, the content creator can distribute and sell the content (the system only accepts uncopyrighted material). The system allows you to create a widget which you post to your MySpace, Facebook pages. Or you can get your own URL and sell your content from that site. “You pay nothing to put your images or music up there, although we are evaluating if there should be a fee,” says Traasdahl. “You have to pay to consume the content, either per download, which costs $1 – 3, out of which the artist gets $.50. Or you join the Thumbplay service which is $9.99 a month. Any time someone signs up for the service through the artist’s page, that artist gets $5 to 8.” (Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame made $10,000 in three months but, says Traasdahl, “he’s a very smart marketer.”)

Also new from Thumbplay was the announcement of a partnership with Comcast to provide the cable MSO with mobile entertainment services include ringtones, games, video, and music.

Last but not least, I met with David Danon of SonicBoom Media, a company that launched “Name That Tune,” a mobile music game in 2003 (which has a great back-story too long for this report). The company, says Danon, is now a leader in creating “the bridge between Web 2.0 and mobile.”

“We reach out to people in their social networks, so they feel comfortable upgrading their web experience to the phone,” he says. “It’s more profound to share an experience on the mobile that your friend has sent you from the web.”

Danon is also a big believer in the future of user-generated video content on the mobile platform: and he isn’t just talking about YouTube. Speaking to that belief is the company’s product Videomaker, due out the end of the year, which allows the user to make long-form movies from 15- to 20-second clips taken with the mobile phone’s video camera. The clips are arranged along a timeline and then connected via transition effects. The result can be sent to a mobile phone as an MMS or to a website as Flash. Also on SonicBoom Media’s agenda is the Hot America mobile beauty pageant completely on cell phones. Each state will have a competition and send its winner to the national contest. This launches in late November and the first winners will be declared in Summer 2009

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Can Actimagine Energize Mobile Video?

Power consumption is one of the bugaboos of video on the mobile platform. Video sucks up power, and batteries for mobile platforms have real limits. That’s a conundrum that Actimagine, a French company, says it has solved.

Actimagine’s patented video codec, Mobiclip, offers VGA resolution at 30 fps…for 7.5 hours on a Nokia N73. That’s an estimated four times longer than MPEG4’s 90 minute duration and eight times more than H.264. Mobiclip is compatible with all open operating systems, including Windows Mobile, Linux, Symbian, Brew and Palm OS.

How do they do it? Henri Linde, Actimagine’s president, Americas, defines it simply. “I describe it as changing all the multiplication and division to addition and subtraction,” he said. “That means that because the algorithm’s built on simpler actions, it uses substantially less power.” Mobiclip files are smaller; MPEG4 files need to be 30 per cent bigger for the same picture and sound quality and so consume more memory on a mobile device.

Up until now, in the U.S., Actimagine, which was founded in Paris in 2003, has provided power consumption for Game Boys and Fisher Price toys. In Europe, however, Actimagine has been making inroads into video for the mobile platform, via promotions for Nokia’s N series phones. Nokia offers a DVD-quality film, stored on an Acimagine miniSD card, as an incentive to buy the phone. The user simply inserts the card into the phone and clicks on an icon to play the movie. Paramount and Sony have participated, with movies including “The Da Vinci Code” and “Casino Royale.”

In May, Nokia, Studio Canal and The Phone House offered a 1-GB Acimagine miniSD card of a popular French movie, “Prête-moi ta main,” for 1 Euro, for those purchasing a new Nokia N73 (and later the Nokia N95 and N76). Successful marketing of the handset included an emphasis that buyers would be able to watch the entire full-screen movie without recharging their batteries and, since the film uses only 350 MB, they’d have 650 MB of free memory on which to store photos, music and videos.

That model sounds compelling enough for the U.S. market, but Actimagine has a bigger plan. “We’re going to offer the full backbone to deliver video,” says Linde. “We don’t just want to be a video codec provider, but also offer transaction management, content management and DRM.” Video will live on a server, which Actimagine will download to users’ PCs. The codec player will download with the video content or be embedded in the handset.

The Motorola Media Monster Z8 will have an embedded Mobiclip player and will come with a miniSD card with “The Bourne Identity.” “With Nokia, the player is on the miniSD cards,” says Linde. “With the Motorola, the player is actually in the phone.” Linde also notes that, with the Nokia N series video-out plug, Actimagine provides a cable to play the cell phone content on the TV receiver. At QVGA resolution, a movie won’t look great on your 42-inch plasma, but the basic concept is right on. “You can buy or rent movies on your cell phone and then watch it at night on your hotel TV,” explains Linde.

For now, the download model will continue to develop, says Linde, who also notes that the company is going to carriers with an offer for streaming. The company, which will get a second round of funding this fall from GRP Partners investment fund, is currently in discussion with numerous major content owners.

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New on the Scene: Vringo

WHO: Vringo
WHAT: A way to share video clips between friends.
WHEN: Founded the beginning of 2006
WHERE: A U.S. company with offices in New York and Israel
HOW: Go to the Vringo website and sign up. They’ll ask for your mobile number, and then send you a clickable link. The buddy list, which requires a nickname and phone number, can be done on the website or mobile phone.
WHY: Why send the ringtone when you can send the music video?

Founded with two rounds of VC money and based on 26 patents pending, Vringo is based on the idea that friends send friends video. More specifically, “buddies” on Vringo can send ring-forward and ring-back clips. “Mobile phones have been traditionally designed so that a phone shuts down all applications when a call comes in,” notes Andrew Perlman. ” With Vringo, you see a clip that your friend has chosen for you.” That clip could be user-generated or licensed content; so far Vringo has over 1,000 clips-to-license from Discovery Channel, Universal Music Group, GoTV, Classic Media and others.

For user-generated clips, the user can record a Vringo from the Vringo application (“Record Vringo”), which automatically turns on the phone’s camera. A finished clip can be immediately uploaded and shared with “buddies” in the Vringo community.

Why haven’t video ringtones taken off in the past? “If you think about audio versus video, people have a tolerance of hearing audio over and over again but video gets tired more quickly,” says Perlman. “You can’t shuffle and see something fresh. Think about merging that idea with the best “recommender” on the planet — your friend. With Vringo, you’re shuffling based on the video your friend sent. It really becomes a community that’s socializing around video ringtones.”

Social networking is key to the Vringo business model. “We’re working our way more deeply into social networks,” says Perlman. “We started specing out our Facebook application, but we’ve tapped into other communities. We think a lot of the content will be user-generated, so we’ve partnered with communities such as Meez, an avatar site with 4 million registered users, that you can import to Vringo. People are already using avatars as a digital signature. We’re focusing on the way on mobile it would be natural to share an avatar.”

The Meez avatars move—they can wave and run—and the user personalizes them, choosing skin tone, features, attire. “It’s a phenomenon and a little bit addictive,” Perlman says. “The avatar is a discrete experience, but it’s a platform fo sharing.”

In the early beta stage, Vringo has “multiple thousands” of users,” says Perlman. What tweaks are they still working on? “We’re fixing it to make it easier,” he says. “The key is really simplicity and ease of use. The thing we really really think we’re good at but want to further improve is to make it as viral as possible. We’re focusing on elements of community and inviting friends based on the contact list on your phone.”

Right now, Vringo is free to users. For the future, Perlman sees the financial model as two-fold: the a la carte purchase of clips in the short-term, with “huge promise” in the ad-funded model down the road. That could be a range from a one- or two-second pre-roll, banner ads or even branded content. “Like BMW films, I think about a 20-second piece of branded content that’s being shared between friends,” says Perlman. “If we get critical mass, that’ll become a real part of our business. We’ve been approached by ad agencies, but this is a long-lead thing.

Vringo is expected to launch formally with at least one mobile carrier before the end of 2008 Q1.

Currently, any Internet-enabled phone can take advantage of Vringo, accessing it via the mobile browser where they cnan view, download and send Vringo videotones. But the full-featured Vringo–which includes installed client, automatic video ringtones and real-time Vringo synchronization, is only available on the following phones.

NOKIA
N70 N73 N76 N80
N81 (8GB) N91 N93 N93i
N95 E60 E61 E61i
E65 6120 Classic 6290
SONY ERICSSON
K610i K800i W850i W880i
MOTOROLA
Moto Q (8)
HTC
S620 (DASH)

Coming soon:
Motorola V3xx, V6, K3
Samsung Blackjack
Nokia N75, E62, 6110, 5500, 5700
What kind of network do I need to use Vringo?
You need a network that offers data (most of them do these days) and with reasonably good coverage. Vringo works best in networks with advanced data services and broadband-like service. This kind of service is frequently called 3G.

Right now, to be able to experience VringBack you must be on a GSM network (like Cingular or T-Mobile). We’re working on ways to extend this service to all types of networks.

Users on non-GSM networks like Verizon or Sprint can still use Vringo. VringForward will work fine, but you won’t get VringBack.

What kind of plan do I need to use Vringo?
You need to be on a data plan. Vringos are uploaded and downloaded with a data connection. The better your connection and your plan, the better the whole thing works.

Where can I get Vringo?
For the length of the private Beta period, you can get Vringo from the Vringo.com website. As we expand the Beta you’ll be able to get it from a variety of software vendors. Don’t worry, it’ll still be free.

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