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The State of Mobile Video 2014

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In comparison, two of the three Russian mobile data networks in the report top the U.S. with 5.9Mbps and 9.7Mbps averages and 26.6Mbps and 51.8Mbps peaks. That upper one is only topped by three networks in the entire report -- Greece (54.9), Qatar (54.2), and Saudi Arabia (53.9). Only Greece averages more than 5Mbps; the others averaged 2.5Mbps. However, remarkable improvement was noted in the U.S., according to Akamai: “Mobile provider US-2 once again had the largest increase [in average connection speed], growing 238 percent from the second quarter of 2012.” (The Akamai report does not identify networks by name.)

Not only have speeds been increasing, but also usage, and at an amazing rate. Monthly traffic (uploads and downloads) has doubled year-to-year and more than quadrupled since 2Q 2011. In the same time period, voice usage has barely moved. Looking at Table 3 provides proof enough that mobile video streaming is definitely making an impact. Mobile data usage is essentially growing at 200 petabytes per month, which it has done each quarter for the last year.

Of course, not all of that data usage is video, but it’s a safe bet that a lot of it is. However, it’s not just TV content that is making mobile video grow so fast -- there are numerous factors in play right now that are making mobile video grow so rapidly.

The dramatic rise in mobile voice and data usage, as measured by Ericsson and reported in the Akamai 2Q report, “The State of the Internet.” 

Mobile Video Advertising

Video advertising is doing extremely well in general, as is mobile advertising more specifically. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, mobile advertising grew 145 percent in the first half of 2013 to total $3 billion, compared to just 17.8 percent growth for all internet advertising revenue (Table 4). In fact, it and video are the only two segments of internet advertising that are growing in terms of total percentage of internet advertising revenue. Clearly, the advertisers see the value and potential of advertising on mobile platforms.

Mobile advertising grew 143% in the first half of 2013, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. 

Micro Mobile Video Social Sharing Goes Big

2013 saw Vine explode with its simple, 6-second looping video and Twitter integration (after Vine’s acquisition by Twitter). That accounted for more than 400 percent growth in the first 9 months of 2013. Not to be left behind, Facebook-owned Instagram not only added short-video recording and sharing to its picture sharing social app, but in early December expanded that with Instragram Direct. The new expansion of the service offers private chat-like messages with photos and video. This will allow Instragram users to create and post content directly to friends as opposed to a public broadcast. A single piece of content can be shared with up to 15 people. This will most likely rapidly expand sharing on the service as things that people did not want to share publicly in the past can now be shared privately with a single friend or a group of friends.

These two social apps mark the tip of an ever-growing iceberg of mobile sharing apps. Numerous others are available -- including Viddy, which offers 15-second videos and some limited editing abilities as well as sharing -- and some big names are entering the fray. Newly arrived in December with high expectations is MixBit, started by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. These two intimately know video sharing and how to build out an infrastructure to support it. Instead of just an online repository for video this time around, they have gone into the creative side as well, offering an app that lets you record, edit, and publish. But what really sets the service apart is its crowd mentality -- it lets users collaborate and remix any clips from the project.

The Future of Mobile Video Is Gear

Finally, wearable computing is once again a hot topic, and video is front and center. Google Glass offers hands-free, point-of-view video recording and live video streaming straight from the devices. Glass is only in its initial stages, but the high demand for the units prompted a range of wearable computing products to pop up. Smart watches have finally emerged after having been almost solely the realm of science fiction for decades. Now major players such as Samsung, Sony, and Apple are scrambling to get product offerings out to the masses. While they may not all be video-capable right now, you can bet they will be in the very near future. Even Nissan has glasses in the works.

Verizon is already offering Looxcie 2 (pronounced look-see), a streaming camera that looks like a Bluetooth headset. It allows live video broadcast through the Verizon mobile data network.

With more and more mobile computing power and storage available, more and more interesting mobile video hardware is coming around. For example, the Quebee is a mobile, multicamera system that ties into a mobile phone application that includes multiangle video recording on-the-go, and on-the-cheap.

Vuzix is working on a new augmented reality (AR) system that could turn the game on its head thanks to its patented waveguide technology. A built-in HD camera offers five megapixel images and VGA video capture up to 83 fps.

A recent Wakefield Research study showed Americans are mad for wearable tech, with 91 percent on board with it. People will be always on, always able to record, and always entertained. The new mobile video space is going to be interactive, two-way communication as well as entertainment. Cloud-based content and storage will always be available, and that means that everything will be caught on video, shared, and stored. Perhaps the revolution will not be televised, but it will certainly be recorded, edited, filtered, uploaded, remixed, and shared across social media networks in the near future.

This article appears in the 2014 Streaming Media Sourcebook as "The State of Mobile Video."

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