Redefining mobile media delivery

* Bamboo MediaCasting's SilverStripe system

If I had to pick one area of new media that was guaranteed to show astronomical growth in the next twelve months I'd pick the mobile world. The potential of mobile media to capture new audiences with new business models and technologies is enormous.

That said, one of the big problems with most of the mobile media models is that they rely on streaming and the majority of our wireless infrastructure is not fast enough to deliver streaming content to large numbers of subscribers. Add to that the streaming content requires an “all you can eat” plan unless you want to bankrupt yourself and you can see the barriers to widespread mobile media adoption are significant.

There’s also another problem with streaming: The quality of both the image and the delivery. The former is because you’re trying to squeeze a lot of data down a relatively narrow (for the medium) pipe and the latter because the pipe isn’t that reliable (buffering helps, but only so much).

But what if you could get around the problems of streaming? That’s exactly what Bamboo MediaCasting offers with their SilverStripe system.

The simplest way to describe SilverStripe is that it is like a digital video recorder for mobile devices (i.e. cellular TiVo). You can use your desktop browser or the browser on your mobile device to log in to your Bamboo account, select which channels you want to receive (both audio only and video content can be delivered) and during off-peak times (i.e. overnight) the content is downloaded to your mobile device. When new content becomes available your mobile device cache is updated.

Bamboo currently supports mobile devices running Symbian, Java, and Windows Mobile. A crucial aspect of the service is that Bamboo knows exactly which customers have downloaded what content along with when and how long they watched or listened to it. This data can then be used to create contextual advertising streams that can be optionally incorporated into the programming.

Bamboo’s service is aimed at carriers to resell to their subscribers. For example, Orange France currently offers something around 400 ‘channels’ via Bamboo services to its customers for 5 Euros per month. The channels are created from content that is ‘passed through’ via licensing deals with third party content owners.

I’ve seen the service running on a couple of mobile devices and I was impressed. The video quality was outstanding and the Web-based services can be configured to integrate seamlessly with the client site.

Bamboo offers carriers the opportunity to be content managers and providers rather than simply a “dumb pipe” for the transfer of streaming content. When the service is hosted by Bamboo, implementation takes about 3 months; and when the carrier wants to do their own hosting, implementation takes longer depending on the level of customization required. Pricing starts around $500,000 with a per customer per month charge.

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