The iPhone Video Wave: Winners And Losers

iphone with rabbit ears

Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 3.0 software, which launches today, will open the doors to more apps that stream video, including live Major League Baseball games and potentially someday, Hulu shows. And the new iPhone 3G S, which goes on sale Friday, will include video recording and editing for the first time.

So what does this mean? Much more video for iPhone users. Both video they’re shooting and uploading, and video they’re consuming.

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You: The iPhone has already gotten people to watch plenty of video via its YouTube app and iTunes video features. Now you’ll get more, from live baseball games to on-demand TV shows.

YouTube: So far, it’s the only free video uploading service that Apple is building into the new iPhone. (Also, Apple’s own MobileMe.) The way the iPhone is the most common mobile phone to upload photos to Yahoo’s Flickr, we imagine it’ll quickly become the most common mobile phone to upload videos to YouTube.

Video app makers: Ranging from MLB to Sling Media to mobile video companies like MobiTV to networks like CBS and Hulu. The new iPhone 3.0 video streaming protocols suggest it’ll be easier to build video apps, and easier to get approval from Apple and carriers like AT&T to stream video over 3G.

Content delivery networks (CDNs) like Limelight Networks and Akamai: Someone has to deliver all this video to the iPhone. So far, Limelight has been winning some key deals there. It’s not as lucrative as delivering hi-def video to PCs, but it’s better than nothing. (We wonder why AT&T, which is pushing its own CDN, hasn’t tried to make a bigger business here. Or at least we haven’t heard anything about it, if it is.)

Video ad networks: More video means more video/multimedia ads, which should sell at higher CPMs than small banner ads. This could be good news for AdMob, Medialets, or other companies.

Apple: Obviously, anything that makes the iPhone more useful helps sell more iPhones. And Apple could get some incremental revenue via opening up iTunes movie/TV rentals/downloads to the iPhone (via wi-fi).


Your iPhone battery: Video uses more processing power than most iPhone activity. So your battery life will suffer. The good news is that the iPhone 3G S has a more powerful battery. (So your electric utility is a winner.)

Adobe: More video without Flash means Adobe’s lock on the Web video market loosens.

Other phone makers: Streaming video has been available for years on Palm, Nokia, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry devices. Beyond losing an advantage they once had over Apple, they’re still stuck with mostly the same lousy video products — tied into carriers — that they’ve offered all along. Now they have to get moving.

AT&T: The good news is that the new video streaming should be more efficient (bandwidth- and cost-) than some of the old video it delivered. The bad news is that AT&T is already struggling to keep up with 3G demand in some cities — especially New York. So video won’t make life easier for AT&T. It promises network updates, which will make things faster.

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