21 December 2004

Watching mobile video clips - Finland

Given how important is mobile multimedia innovation, there is surprisingly little public research on usage of multimedia mobile devices and services. Operators of 3G/UMTS networks, who must have carried out extensive research on how people receive and use mobile video services, have communicated little on their results. In this situation, we can only trust them that demand for these services exists.

A contribution towards understanding what people do with video-enabled phones comes from a team of the National Consumer Research Centre in Finland.

At the end of 2002, Repo, Hyvönen, Pantzar and Timonen gave a video-phone and access to a mobile portal for a week to a group of 13 Finnish people. The group was composed of early majority pragmatists: average users of the mobile phone and video on Internet; females and males; from three different age groups - less than 20, between 20 and 40; more than 40 years-old. During the week of test, participants kept a diary of their video-clips viewing, of the situations and of their feelings. They also went through a training sessions and one predefined activity per day.

The mobile portal offered a small selection of video clips supplied by Elisa.TV: 15 video clips of Hyppönen Enbuske Experience, a TV talk-show; 11 Karaoke video clips; 3 music videos and animated children 's cartoons. When accessed in mobility, their image and audio quality were relatively poor, and downloading was slow. Complaints with regard to these aspects were frequent.


Participants appreciated watching music videos, animated clips and Karaoke recordings.


Watching video clips was a natural, positive experience in two contexts:

  • as a pass-time when they were alone, e.g. during a break; in a queue; in the backseat of a taxi; singing a karaoke song in the car when picking children up from school. The declared primary use was to avoid boredom and frustration. They felt videos were a good distraction.

An example: the daughter of one of the mothers had already grown impatient:she was getting tired of watching the game. Then suddenly it dawned on me: why not let her watch animated films while the boys are playing? I showed her the first video clip on the list of cartoons and it made her really happy - and the mothers, too, were all excited.

  • as a collective leisure activity, cartoons with children and karaoke with friends.  Participants played karaoke videos in group and in many different locations: in the school cafeteria, at a floor ball tournament, on the subway.

Two examples: We watched karaoke today in the school cafeteria. It was fun, all of us at the table singing together. The other diners looked at us with an expression of "good grief!" on their faces - but we didn't  let that bother us.

I was fiddling with my phone when I heard one of the mothers say she was going to a party in the evening where they were going to have karaoke. It hit me that she could practice beforehand on my phone! I put the Juankoski piece on - and weren'tthe mommies delighted! When Juankoski was finished I put on Jari Sillanpää, and it just got better and better. Everyone was really excited!

Watching video streaming in public transportation represented instead a negative experience; users felt that the video sound disturbed other passengers.  

I wouldn't watch videos on the bus. What if the person sitting next to you is somebody who's totally exhausted after a day work, has perhaps been harassed by his boss, and who will only be irritated by the crackling noise? No thanks.

Posted at 05:28 PM in Usage of Mobile Phones, Usage of Videotelephony | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

26 October 2004

Perspectives on usage of mobile TV and video over 3G

One of the central usage scenarios to inspire 3G Telecom operators envisions customers watching TV contents, Video on Demand and sharing personal videos across the network using their mobile devices. This vision is spelt out in the Register article 3G must embrace TV, based on an Analysys study. The argument is that 3G success may come from high revenue generating TV and video clips delivered to mobile phones. Its structure reminds me of similar arguments put forward at the end of the 90's to justify investments in WAP and the Mobile Internet. A mature context: both mobile phones and TV are ubiquitous, and people spend a significant amount of time watching TV. A keen audience: customer research indicates strong latent demand. A success story: rapid adoption of TV, VoD, Video 3G services in South Korea. Awareness of technical (speed, capacity, size) and economic (pricing) shortcomings, but obviously solutions are in view. A potential risk: competition from new broadcasting technologies, such as DVB - handhelds.

As I was reading this article, I had the opportunity to discuss the results from a recent longitudinal study on how new 3G customers services explore, try out and use TV, VoD and video services; and I came across the report Conflicting signals: a cell phone television interest survey, from the Lyra Research DTV View . The survey (of 1361 US cell phone users) evaluates people's overall interest in watching cell phone television or videos. It found that slightly more than half (53%) are either not interested at all or not very interested; 32% are somewhat interested; 14% are either very or extremely interested. The remaining 2% doesn't know. Both sources question the assumption that strong demand exists for TV, VoD and video 3G services. Clearly, more research and a closer look at how people use and feel about these services, in South Korea for instance, would help orient their development and diffusion.

Where: US
When: 2004

Posted at 09:56 PM in Usage of Videotelephony | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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