Mobile Movies To Pick Up In 2008

Mobile video subscribers are expected to make up 10 percent of all U.S. cell customers by 2009, according to a new report released Monday by technology research firm In-Stat.

Following an experimental stage, long-form mobile video (videos of a half hour or more) will begin to gain traction among consumers by 2008. "Content is starting to get pushed out there and mp3 players now have video capability so it's not hard to see a critical mass picking up by 2008," said the report's author, In-Stat analyst Michael Inouye.

Today, long-form content downloaded to portable devices amounts to just 1 percent of the $20 billion-plus video consumer market in North America--not including cell phones. Much of that content comes from downloadable TV shows available via iTunes and other portable media players. Companies such as Apple Computer, AOL and Amazon are now also taking steps to offer downloadable movies via PC and mobile devices.

Currently, there is not enough of an installed base of portable devices for video to gain traction, according to the In-Stat report. And it's unclear whether multimedia cell phones or separate media players will win out when it comes to mobile video. Giving consumers the ability to transfer files from their own collections will be a key factor in the growth of mobile video.

"Without the ability to 'carry' mobile content derived from users' physical libraries, the mobile/portable market will likely fail to reach its utmost potential," stated the report.

However, roughly one in eight mobile users expressed an interest in accessing video on their cell phones, and early adopters were willing to pay about $20 more for a phone capable of playing mp3 files.

The study also found that the emerging mobile video market is unlikely to cannibalize revenue from traditional media platforms, such as DVDs. Rather, it will add to top-line growth.

The primary consumer research for the study was based on a January 2006 Internet survey involving 1,238 respondents who were at least 18 years of age and used a cellular phone.