I remember a few years ago salivating with envy as my Australian friends would flaunt their video streaming 3 phones. Their phones had “external” and “internal” cameras so they could stream their surroundings, as well as have a more traditional webcam-like personal chat experience. Suddenly, anyone could break news, streaming events live, etc.
One day last summer as I went looking for a new blackberry at the AT&T store, I noticed a small display promoting “AT&T Video Share”. Were my eyes deceiving me? Did this day really truly come?
Yes and no, as the sales rep took me through a demo, it was painfully apparent AT&T’s network wasn’t fast enough to support streaming video. Not coincidencely, when I returned, the Video Share display was gone, as well as their only streaming phone, the CU500.
Interestingly enough, as always in mobile innovation, it’s the little guys who typically lead. Startups such as Qik.com, have empowered a small but very influential group of adopters such as Robert Scoble and Digg founder Kevin Rose. Qik supports over 100 phones across multiple carriers in 55 countries.
So as Qik begins to gain momentum within social communities such as Facebook and Twitter, AT&T has quietly relaunched video share. With 3G network coverage becoming more robust (on the East Coast at least where I can keep a 3G signal from Manhattan to ext 117 on the GSP), the relaunch of Video Share makes sense.
What I hope however is that AT&T understands the business model. It’s too utopian to think that every cameraphone with streaming video capabilities will be activated and if the web is a model for video, the percentage of producers of streaming video content will most likely be very small relative to the total audience. AT&T’s sweet spot should be owning the web/mobile destination and subsequently the advertising around the viewing environments.
This is a great step forward for mobile innovation and I’m hopeful we’ll be rewarded with new content, new perspectives, and new ideas that stem from mobile video streaming.