At this moment, one half of 237 PB (petabytes (1015B) of global mobile network traffic per month is consumed by video. It is expected that its share will rise even more and that in four years it will account for two thirds of total mobile data traffic. It’s not a surprise since people love video content and on average spend as much as half an hour a day watching online videos. The question now is whether they will migrate from pc/laptops to enjoy this kind of content on their smartphones and tablets.
Mobile data traffic
Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update
There are three reasons why video will continue to gain popularity in the mobile world:
- Screen is now large enough to offer full video experience
- Tablets and smartphones with larger screen sizes are ideal devices for watching videos on the go. The best example is the iPad2, which apart from being perfect device to hold in your hands and watch (streamed) video will also try to make a revolution in video calling, since now you can see the person you talk to without being locked to your desk, yet not in the crappy quality of a small mobile phone screen.
- The network is faster
- The average 3G (and higher) network speed is now around 1Mbps, which offer good video watching experience and it is expected to increase four times in the next four years. As the speed goes up, there will be more rich media content being accessible from smart phones and tablets. Furthermore, as the sales of these devices outpace the sales of desktop and laptop computers, a change in habits will happen as well – users will start doing more things on their mobile devices thus leading to the increase of use of mobile internet (it will reach 6.3 exabites per month in 2015, increasing 26 times in comparison to 2010).
- Video is optimized for mobile view
- Although there is still a Flash-or-no-Flash debate going on, the fact is that now video is optimized for mobile view, and we can expect that this will only improve. Instead, the issue here is whether people want ‘mobile’ video on their tablets or they would like to have ‘full experience’. Either way, there are no more barriers to keep video off mobile.
But we are not to confuse numbers – these figures refer only to the data traffic and not the number of users who use this kind of service, or the amount of video they consume per day. Video is taking only 3.9% of our online time and although its share increased for as much as 12% in one year, is still far behind other uses on the list of favorites of an average user, after social networking (22.7%) and gaming (10.2%).
The truth is that top one percent of mobile users accounts for as much as 20% of total traffic and top ten percent generate around two thirds of total mobile data traffic. And since video has much higher bps than other things, it shows up very high in traffic charts.
The reason why it has not still gone mainstream in mobile world could be related to mobile networks since carriers impose limits on users data plans. And the news that Verizon has also decided to put a cap on unlimited data plans for iPhones this summer, it is unlikely that this trend will change and that the unlimited mobile internet plans will become standard soon. However, as the speed and availability go up and as network companies become less home (pc/laptop) oriented and more more mobile/tablet oriented, the cost will definitely go down and popularity of video will once again explode.
Mobile video traffic is 1.5 larger than the whole Internet traffic in 2000
Source:Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update
Now, great video apps are something which could be speed this process up a little and developers will try their best to use the expected switch from pc/laptops to tablets – the trend illustrated by the fact that during last year consumers spent 28.2% more time with mobile devices than in 2009. There are already some good video apps out there, such as Howcast for iPad, but there is still a lot of room for improvement and we are definitely going to see some great new apps coming out this year.
As they say, if a picture is worth a thousand words – video is worth thousand pictures.
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