CeBIT 2004: Can Video Kill the Radio Star?
By Eric Lin, Fri Mar 19 17:00:00 GMT 2004

Last year, video was a feature reserved for smartphones and 3G networks. This year, it's coming to cameraphones and 2G networks. Is video the next consumer must-have feature or are the manufacturers just trying to add something new?

As phone manufacturers continually try to make their fotohandys look and act more and more like digital cameras, they are following in those products' evolutionary footsteps. There was a time when digital cameras were very simple, when zoom was the only feature. After the different manufacturers caught up to each other in still imaging, a few pioneers added video capture as well. Now you can't get a camera that doesn't shoot video clips -- even if they're short or silent.

When the Nokia 3650 was launched, the ability to shoot (short) videos was highly touted, but it rarely seems used. A few more video-capable handys have launched on a number of networks since, but users don't seem to be taking and sharing videos the way they they are taking and sharing pictures. A number of factors could be holding users back, but when those barriers are knocked down, will video become the next killer app? It could, since it is about communication, after all.

Manufacturers are doing their best to build what appear to be video-friendly handys. Many are including Real Player or other applications for playback, even in plain old feature handys. Video camera-like form factors started back with Panasonic's first FOMA handy, and have continued to grow into new models like Panasonic's X300, the Samsung P730 and the Sony Ericsson S700. Instead of making a model that looks more like a camera, Nokia has made their new 7610 act more like a camera, by allowing users to record clips up to ten minutes long, and including a video-editing application on the handy itself.

The ability to create video is one thing, but what do with it is another. Larger or higher resolution screens would help users show off the video they created from their handsets. Manufacturers could further enhance the video experience by adding video-out jacks in their phones, or at least providing Bluetooth or some other fast local transfer option to get video off the handy and into the living room. The networks have the most work to do. They need to make it easy and affordable to deliver video files (and megapixel pictures) over their networks. So far the networks only talk about delivering video to a handy. If video is to gain momentum, the networks need to be more concerned about files coming from the handy, to other subscribers, other networks, or even other types of devices.