Nic Covey, Director of Insights
What outlook should we have when contemplating the future of mobile video? For content providers, carriers, advertisers and consumers, mobile video is often a glass-half-full / glass-half-empty scenario. Yes, the industry is placing tremendous attention and investment in the medium – but, by comparison its reach is fairly humble. And yes, the possibility for future growth is enormous when we consider content and commerce potential– but, it’s a complicated path to that future.
For some perspective, we turn to Nielsen’s latest Mobile Video Report, which paints the picture either way: It provides affirming insights on mobile video’s best year yet. Nonetheless, it highlights substantial limitations and challenges ahead.
A mixed bag for sure, but no matter your take on mobile video, today, it’s hard to deny that a confluence of factors — better devices, faster networks, dedicated programmers, consumer interest – prime the pump for the broader, if bumpy, adoption of the platform. In short, the catalysts for growth are now in place.
Perhaps adoption of mobile video may look more like the gradual, linear adoption of DVRs than the exponential growth of portable MP3 players and the similarity wouldn’t be a coincidence. DVRs and mobile video are analogous in their transformational nature: technologies that fundamentally alter the time or place of media consumption. That’s a very distinct evolution from a technology such as the MP3 player, which did not change the time or place of the portable CD player, but simply refined the user experience of that medium – thus the adoption of the MP3 player was a logical adoptive progression for the consumer. The extent to which mobile video asks consumers to fundamentally alter their consumption patterns should not be understated.
At 6.5% penetration, it’s easy to be a pessimist about mobile video, to see the half-empty glass. But after posting its best year yet, after 70% year over year growth, it’s wiser to be a cautious optimist. Mobile video is a transformational technology that will require real changes or additions to the consumer media diet. As such, it may have a long way to go before making a dramatic impact on our media economy. When it does, though – when mobile video adoption further dissolves barriers of video’s time and place – the beneficiaries will be those who participated in its evolution, those who anticipated and planned for this demand.
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