Archive for March 1st, 2006

Video business idea

Video is the next big thing for mobility, just like mp3 players exploded in the past 2-4 years. iTunes is already the No1 solution for purchasing online video for iPods or computers, but I was thinking about the problem of different resolutions and formats.

What if there was a company with the right backend server hardware to sell DRM-or-not video and was asking different prices for different resolutions? You see, using 3GP or MP4 you can fit an entire movie on 50-60 MBs of space on a low resolution phone (e.g. a 4:3 video at 128×96 or 176×144). PDAs and newer phones would require QVGA (both portrait and landscape resolutions). PMPs would require either QVGA or VGA. Home entertainment would require DVDs or SVCD resolutions and formats.

Let the user come to that hypothetical site, let him register and create profiles for up to 5 devices (each with its own resolution and format needs), then let him pick a movie or video (that you normally store on DVD or full HDTV resolution on your servers) and then let that user buy that video for one of his device resolutions. Check on your terrabytes of storage and see if that video was ever downsampled at the requested resolution and format, and if yes, deliver it to the user after entering his credit card info. If not, then on the fly downsample/re-encode the video and deliver it to the user after payment.

This business idea surely requires some serious hardware –mostly storage and fast specialized CPUs when re-encoding is required–, but whoever has the capital to start such a business and hit a deal with MPAA, there might be able to hit on iTunes. Of course, iTunes is huge atm, it’s not possible to beat it completely, but it is possible to take a big chunk of its legal video market share sales because of the customization is given to each movie purchased.

The idea behind this is because people don’t want to transcode or re-encode theirs or illegal movies. It takes a hell of a time on a 3 GHz PC to encode a DVD to a QVGA video, and it takes up to A DAY to encode a DVD in h.264 format. But specialized hardware should be able to do this pretty fast, and someone with the right money and business connections, could make money out of this need.

Sure, not everyone wants to watch movies on phones, PDAs or PMPs or DVDs at home. But the video craze is only in its beginning, and there is money to be made in that market. If only we had the right CPU power… 😉