Thursday, March 15, 2007
In actuality, technologies to distribute both types of video are being pursued. In general, the idea of broadcasting video is much more practical in many ways. In fact, many local TV stations around the country- which are gearing up to broadcast exclusively in digital TV format by 2009 anyway- are waiting for the small screen TV market to open up. These stations are preparing to transmit small screen versions of their normal programming alongside normal digital TV transmissions. The small screen version would broadcast digitally on a separate frequency and would feature content specifically designed to be viewed on a small screen. The content- as well as any advertising- might be specifically tailored to the interests of a more mobile audience than the normal programming would be.
Video on demand for mobile devices would be considerably more complicated to pull off, but a number of companies are trying to do it just the same. The complication comes from the fact that the transmission is wireless. That means that in order for a mobile device to receive video, there has to be some kind of authentication protocol between a server that's sending the video and the device that's receiving it. Essentially, the transmission would have to be encrypted a certain way in order to tell the receiving device that the continually streaming data is part of the same video clip rather than part of a transmission meant for another device. This entire situation is further complicated by the fact that such a system may have to deal with thousands of people in any given service area demanding their own video feeds at a given time. This could be an issue because the servers only have a finite capacity and there's only a finite amount of wireless bandwidth. You can see why broadcast video is much more practical.
Of course, even with all of the hype and enthusiasm among companies and individuals who are trying to develop this technology one important question remains unanswered: will consumers care?