Mobile Future

The small screen gets bigger

To paraphrase a famous movie line, "Video’s still big. It’s the screen that got small."

An interesting report on the continued growth of mobile video came from Nielsen this week. As of third quarter 2008, people who used a mobile phone spent three hours per month on average watching mobile video. (By comparison, the average viewer spent 142 hours watching TV.)

But look at the trend: From Q2 to Q3, average mobile video usage increased from 195 to 217 minutes – an 11 percent increase and a pretty good quarterly growth rate!

The age breakdown isn’t surprising, as younger viewers are the dominant video consumers, although the 18-24 figure seems oddly low:

Age Average monthly usage
13-17 260 minutes
18-24 195 minutes
25-34 260 minutes
35-44 227 minutes
45-54 130 minutes
55-64 173 minutes
65+ Negligible


The real issue is how this surging growth will impact the wireless network. Video is data-intensive and according to PBS tech guru Robert Cringley, three Sling streams are enough to crash a typical EVDO cell. Also there’s the cost: It’s a lot more expensive to deliver data wirelessly than on a fiber optic line.

We’ll address these issues in upcoming blogs but for the moment, we’ll let this report speak for itself.

Happy Thanksgiving and we’re off to catch Amtrak!