Get a Move On!

New videophones are fast-forwarding to the future.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The move from camera-phones to videophones capable of capturing motion clips is a natural evolution. These little wonders are on the market now and should one day become as ubiquitous as regular camera-phones are now. The good news is that their cost, size and battery consumption are pretty close to their high-end still-camera brethren, so you won't make big sacrifices in any of those areas. But while early adopters will jump on board, you may want to check into the cost of the accompanying services that allow you to transmit the videos you capture.

Since these are first-generation devices, you can only capture a short clip (usually about 15 seconds). You may run into issues as you send clips around--other devices may not support the formatting. This will improve as future generations of phones come out. "The digital video pictures are not like the movie camcorder pictures we have today," says Muzib Khan, vice president of product management and engineering wireless terminals division for Samsung Telecommunications America. Think about the quality of still pictures on cell phones, and you'll have an idea of what the video looks like. Future videophones will feature higher quality images, especially as the U.S. mobile phone networks are improved to better handle higher data rates.

Khan sees many business services growing up around videophones. He points to real-time video-teleconferencing phones that are already in use in Korea as something we can look forward to reaching the United States. Video messaging, however, will come first. Look for interest in this and multimedia messaging in general to pick up by the end of year.

As with still-picture camera-phones, expect entrepreneurs to come up with creative uses for these devices. They could replace traditional digital cameras or camcorders in cases where super-high image quality isn't necessary, but fast transmission is. Khan says, "We can envision businesses using this for advertising, insurance processing or trouble-shooting." Whether it's capturing a completed project or beaming back footage from a trade show, videophones will find a place in growing businesses.


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