Embattled handset manufacturer Motorola has recently announced its intention to develop a digital movie initiative that would offer full length motion pictures reformatted for their multimedia devices. Paramount Pictures has reportedly signed on as a content partner with others not far behind. Some say that the service could launch in May – although pricing options remain uncertain.
That not withstanding, I am really curious to know who in the world will want to watch a movie on their mobile handset. Can you imagine spending 220 minutes in front of 2” x 3” screen? Even it were free, I don’t get the appeal. Then again, maybe I am not “the target demo,” but given the array of other options available for watching feature length movies, like the PC and, heaven forbid, the TV screen, it seems more aspirational and PR-driven then user-oriented.
This announcement also raises a larger question about the intended purpose and utility of the mobile phone. Back in the stone age, mobile phones were a vehicle for calling other people when not tethered to a land line. Over time, they have become more functional as our lifestyles have become more mobile. The iPhone has opened our eyes to the power of a great web browser on a phone and deftly integrated music/video access with its voice application.
But, as good as that phone is, its glass touch screen gets low marks from the email user who prefers a more tactile keyboard for pounding out emails. Experts contend, and I agree, that most smart phones, tend to serve 2 out of 3 applications well, but rarely score a grand slam and perfect all of what is regarded as “essential” user functionally in one handset.
Now, we have Motorola trying to revive its handset business with a content play that may end up further frustrating its user base even if they get the business model right, which remains to be seen. Instead of trying to give us what I suspect most people would say that they don’t really need or want, Motorola might be better served by perfecting the basic applications of its mobile phones. Maybe offering its subscribers services that people value, created on top of a software platform that incents developers to write applications that will get more subscribers on board, is a wiser use of their limited resources. Motorola’s initiative strikes me as one driven by what’s possible instead of what’s practical.
What do you think?
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Filed Under: Digital Media, Mobile, New Business Models