Amid all the iPhone 2.0 hype, we missed the news last week that Motorola has launched a full-length movie store for its mobile phones. Before you ask: “Who wants to watch a feature film on their tiny cellphone screen, anyway?” Here are a few of the details.
The service is available first in the UK-only, but will eventually extend to France, Italy, Germany and Spain. The catalog is currently restricted to forty titles from one studio — Paramount Digital Entertainment — including “The Italian Job”, “Star Trek” and “Team America: World Police”, priced at between £5.99 and £8.99 per movie.
Unsurprisingly, movies can’t be downloaded ‘over-the-air’ directly to handsets but instead the service requires “side-loading” whereby content is downloaded to a PC first and then transfered onto a mobile phone. Motorola says this is so that customers avoid potentially expensive data charges but it also means that the service can bypass carriers who may offer a competing service. Users will still need to be able to connect their phones to the Internet, however, as each side-loaded movie has to have its DRM certificate verified online, and each device must be registered with Motorola’s store.
“Sideloading is a good option and in the next 12-18 months we’ll see quite a few other players enter this space. That’s why we wanted to get to market now so we’d be ahead of the curve”, Andrew Till, a senior director on Motorola’s multimedia team, tells The Guardian.
Addressing the central question of “whether people will really want to watch full-length films on their phones when they have a 2.4″ screen on their mobile and a 30″ screen at home”, Till says, “people see video on a mobile in a different way. They want something they can watch while they are on the treadmill, on an exercise bike or while they are commuting when they don’t want a large device. We know from the video consumption on phones that consumers want this.”
Of course, not all video consumption is equal, especially on mobile devices. Short form content, yes. Feature films, we’re not so sure. On that note, Till told The Guardian that ‘users typically watch films in chunks of between 22 and 26 minutes’.
Our point precisely.