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Cell Phones and E-Commerce - Mobile Music, Mobile Video and TV

digital wireless content software

Definition: With advances in handsets, wireless network infrastructure, and improvements in software development platform, mobile multimedia content for cell phones now includes digital music, games, videos, and TV.

NTT DoCoMo pioneered the mobile music market by introducing polyphonic ringtones (Chaku-Melody or Chaku-Melo) on i Mode in 1999. With advances in handsets, wireless network infrastructure, and improvements in software development platform, mobile multimedia content for cell phones now includes digital music, games, videos, and TV.

Mobile Music

According to the Yankee group research firm, the mobile music market is expected to grow from around $200 million in revenue in 2004 to $1.2 billion by 2008 (IFPI, Jupiter Research, and other firms cite similarly optimistic numbers). Subscribers that tap into the mobile music market are projected to go up from 250, 000 in 2004 to 12 million in 2008.

Newer handset models from Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson and Handspring to name a few support a media player, provide storage of 6 to 10 CDs of songs encoded in MP3 or AAC format and come equipped with 3D stereo sounds through dual speakers. In parallel, wireless carriers are migrating towards Third Generation (3G) wireless infrastructure, as a case in point, Verizon wireless announced in September 2004 availability of its 3G network which now covers around 30 US markets and offers download speeds of 300 Kbps to 500 Kbps and bursts up to 2 Mbps. Revenues from online music are split between the wireless carriers, handset manufacturers, media platform vendors, and online music stores such as Loudeye, I-tunes, and Sony Direct.

Mobile Video and TV

Analysts predict that revenue from mobile video will grow from practically nothing in 2004 to $5.4 billion in 2009, with 22.3 million Americans becoming viewers of mobile video content. In addition to streaming video content comprising of primarily news, sports, adult videos, music video clips, and movie trailers from the web, there is a drive to develop chipsets to decode and display digital TV receptions using new mobile versions of digital television broadcast standards. Supporting digital TV for the cell phone are two emerging digital TV standards for mobile devices: DVB-H (European standard from Digital Video Broadcasting Project) and a competing Japanese standard ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial). Wireless carriers such as Cingular and Sprint PCS, deliver live television feeds to subscribers in real-time over existing cellular networks using software from MobiTV. Other innovative ventures include a product from Sling Media that connects to a set-top box and redirects the TV signal to a mobile device over broadband Internet connections.

In addition to technical hurdles to support video content for cell phones, there are concerns over Digital Rights Management (DRM) as well as concerns to protect minors from mobile phone content. In particular, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aims to enforce a rating system as well as filtering software on phones.

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