Mobile video is the key application to benefit from GPRS and third-generation (3G) services, but it will not take off in Europe until 2005, and there will be tough times before then for mobile video specialist companies.
That was the main conclusion of a report entitled The competitive landscape of mobile video on demand, released by wireless industry advisory company Northstream at this week's 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.
"Mobile video is one of the most clear cut cases showing the advantage of high-speed data networks like GPRS and 3G," said Anders Lindqvist, report author and Northstream co-founder. "[But] there are a lot of difficult tasks and issues that need to be solved."
He insisted that the time to prepare was now, but that there would be tough times ahead for specialists in this field until the market takes off, which would not be before 2005 in Europe.
Video on demand (VOD) includes streaming and download services. Many companies offer applications already but Lindqvist predicted a substantial reduction in their numbers.
In addition, leading software companies such as Microsoft, and mobile specialists like Nokia and Ericsson, have not yet fully revealed their plans.
For VOD, widespread use of 3G with VOD-capable terminals is needed. Although video telephony services, including video conferencing, already exist in Japan, the Northstream report insists that 2005 will be take-off year in Europe.
Reasons why European take-up is likely to be slow, even with technology problems resolved, include the recent economic downturn, the threat of under-supply or over-priced handsets, unresolved copyright issues and the lack of clear cut business cases by the specialist companies.
By contrast, Northstream has reported strong demand for multimedia messaging services and expects it to gain critical mass alongside the well-established SMS by the end of next year.
The report is published today (February 19).
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