Blowing Mobile Video Through a Clogged Straw
I was at gymnastics with my kids today and I took a video of my daughter on the trampoline. Oh sure, it's something she does all the time–very well for a two year old, I might add–but it's never been videoed. So I whipped out my spiffy Nokia N93 to take a video of it and upload it to my personal blog. I had captured the video in 640×480 30fps, which is certainly higher quality than i needs to be for the web, I suppose, but I might want to use the footage for something else later. Best to use the highest quality capture possible.
I captured the footage and proceeded to attempt to post it. Fortunately, the gym has an open WiFi, so I wouldn't be trying to upload this massively large video through T-Mobile's EDGE network. However, the process failed miserably. Some part of the email process choked and failed. I even tried emailing it from home with the same result. Let's face it, the file was too big to email, but I had no other choice while mobile. None of the services have an upload client for movies that work on a mobile device, at least that I'm aware of.
As devices become more and more powerful and are able to capture higher and higher quality images and videos, and as picture and video sharing from mobile devices becomes more and more commonplace, more and more people are going to be bumping into these issues. Let's ignore the fact that, at least in the US anyway, the carrier data networks themselves can't handle multi-megabyte files being sent from the handset. Even if the bandwidth was there, which with my WiFi was clearly the case, there's just no reasonable way–except for email–to transfer a large file from the handset to some service on the Internet that can make it available to a wider audience. Not only is that inefficient–emailing files adds around 35% to the amount of data that needs to be transfered, but it's inelegant.
If mobile video is to take hold anywhere, not only must we have the bandwidth in order to transfer all that data, but the whole process must support much larger files than are supported today and be a lot easier to do. This is going to take cooperation from mobile carriers, mobile phone manufacturers, and the service providers to accomplish. Who's up to the challenge?