Somehow we don’t believe the perfect everything for everyone mobile phone is possible, practical, in demand. But it may be the perfect way to murder entertainment as we know it.

Content Insider #80 - Death By Phone

THE Insider

Content Insider #80
Death By Phone

"Oh, wait a minute, you clot; you can't walk down the street like that - you, you'll be arrested!" -- Chief Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) - Dial M for Murder (1954)


Wonder why movies are so thin on plot today?

We've lost a major propthe phone!

When have you seen someone clobbered with a cellphone?

Where would Jessica Tandy go today when the birds attack?

Where does Superman change?

Phones have always been indispensable.

Problem is, you aren't buying new phones fast enough. .

Cellphone sales are up around the globe. In the U.S. the industry racked up roughly $8.8 billion last year according to NPD - after all of the rebates, promotions.

So the industry has decided you don't need a phone.

You need a fashion statement.

You don't need a phone.

You need a:

  • camera so you can be a citizen journalist to cover mayhem or just grab dumb people tricks you can send to MySpace or YouTube
  • music player
  • mobile TV set
  • go-anywhere theater
  • Mapquest to guide you home because you didn't pay attention where you were going becauseyou were listening to music, watching Lost
  • email reader/responder

All of this is coming to you because you're not using enough of their services.

Pretty hard to believe. "Everyone" has a clamshell slapped to their ear or a brain probe jutting out their ear talking to themselves - loudly - as they walk down the street.

Old and young alike have learned to drive with one hand so they can talk to someone.

People have no problem interrupting a conversation with you to take a call from someone who has something really important to say!

At the restaurant the other evening some guy took three calls over dinnernow that dude is important!

Problem is providers are now selling a commodityconnecting you with someone, somewhere, all the time.

The providers agree with Robert Cummings"Darling, I understand now, but that doesn't stop me from loving you."

You want these extra services, extra capabilities, extra toys.

Of course if you're in the hinterlands of Africa, a slum in India or in rainforest of Brazil all you want is a phone!

Baby boomers probably don't want more either (think the growing percentage of our world population -- http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/world.html). 

Why?

Hearing is shot (ask your spouse/significant other). Eyesight is slightly above trifocals.

Nintendo seized the market beautifully with the Wii but phone people are aiming all of their guns at the kids who will have to support the boomerssooner rather than later.

The reasons - the real reasons - you have a cellphone doesn't put much in their pockets.

According to Harris Interactive the reasons people have a cellphone are:

  • sense of security - 41%
  • primary form of communications - 24%
  • more personal form of communications - 20%
  • connecting with business - 13%

Sure peer pressure is included -- you tell our kids they have to be deprivedwe won't!

Entertainment?

Admit itsound sucks!

Picture quality isforget it!

The real money isn't in the phone call. It's in the text messaging, the information gathering, the entertainment.

According to IDC, a camera on a phone is almost standard fare - nearly 90% of the units sold include the feature.

But InfoTrends found that once the novelty of the camphone wore off the number of photos or videos shot with the phones dropped more than 50% the first year and then continued to decline.

More importantly - from the service provider's perspective - few people save or share the photo/video files (i.e. - send them to an online archive or pass them to friends/family).

Crudno money there!

But with the right engineering there are more things device manufacturers can bundle (they call it added value).

You know stuff people want/need. Right!

Here's the honeybucket of profit for the providers - games, music, video, TV, etc .

Of course the entertainment industry also sees money to be made.

The music industry saw what Jobs did to them with his iPod and they've determined to get a bigger chunk this go-around from the mobile telcos. The same is true of the networks and studios.

While the all-in-one entertainment solution is falling out of favor in the Pacific Basin and in Europe, no problem. The folks in the Americas don't know any better. They'll pick up the entertainment sales slack.

We sort of feel sorry for our kids. They have music on their iPods and cellphones. It's near CD quality.

Near CD quality?

Gimme a break folks! It sucks !!

HD in our car sounds good. 7:1 surround at home sounds fantastic !!!

Music on their cellphone is slightly better than Tiny Tim on Laugh-In rerunspainful!!!

Despite this little shortcoming, content is the killer app - music, photo, video.

Software folks like Corel's InterVideoUlead are working with people on both sides of the aisle to produce, distribute, deliver content you'll stare at for more than 30 seconds.

Service providers worldwide are expending their offerings.

 

When we look at our cellphone bills we think our kids have tried them all.

They are on the phones forevercalling or IMing. But that's nothing compared to how much we get dinged for their music video downloads, MobiTV and Sling Box slings to the phone.

Some of the new units (you can't really call them a phone) are delivering fair video quality.

Nothing we'd want to watch and we can't figure out why our son wants to be connected to his device in the family room when there's a perfectly good HUGE monitor right in front of him!

Of course the industry has to come to grips with the format issue because it is a problem for content providers to support everything - DVB-H, MediaFlo, ISBD-T, S-DMB/T-DMB.

Talk about standards issues!

What providers really need to address though is customer service/customer satisfaction.

True, that's tough when video quality is slightly above unacceptable and the service build-out/delivery is less than reliable. But we all have to start somewhere.

But the good news is it's expensive!

We'd pass on all of these added features for a really cellphone that had clear, reliable service. 3G seems to have the potential for delivering this quality.

When that can be counted on a good multi-purpose device like Helio's new Ocean could find a place in our pocket.

But since identity theft and computer hacking hasn't been solved yet - resulting in billions of names and dollars being "borrowed" every year - we don't see something like the digital wallet service becoming popular for years!

Before we make that call, folks are going to have to get on board with Mike Lazardis, the boss of RIM, and solve the really mundane issuesecurity!

If you can already grab a cellphone signal out of the air with the simplest of tools and cellphones are totally unprotected, the last thing we're interested in is taking on the "added convenience" of electronic transfer from our cellphone.

Yeah that service may require a little more thinking, a little more planning and a helluva lot of work to prove to us.

Grace Kelly found out the truth the hard way after asking, "Do you really believe in the perfect murder?"

Somehow we don't believe the perfect everything for everyone mobile phone is possible, practical, in demand.

But it may be the perfect way to murder entertainment as we know it.

We've been wrong before so if/when it arrives we'll agree with Chief Inspector Hubbard "Mind you, even I didn't guess that at once... extraordinary."


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