The Reuters news service is reporting that Sprint Nextel will announce a new service today that will allow its mobile video phone users to watch full-length movies, tv shows, concerts and comedy specials.
Vendor MSpot will provide the service, which will be offered for a flat monthly fee of $6.95.
Initial programming includes "Night of the Living Dead," the Marlon Brando western "One-Eyed Jacks," and "Short Circuit." Sprint says it will add seven films a week, and is in negotiation with film studios to do so.
I have trouble wrapping myself around the idea that people will watch a feature-length film on a 2 or 3-inch cell phone screen. Why?
- Many films have wide vistas, fast action, split screens and multiple colors, which do not work well on a small viewer.
- The physicality of the viewing experience also strikes me as uncomfortable. How long do you expect film viewers to squint?
- Sprint Nextel is saying that users will be able to watch portions of the movie, and then go back to view more from the point in the film where they left off. But given the small screen, I doubt whether specific scenes will register with viewers in such a way that they will feel compelled to go back. It's one thing watching a movie in a theater of at home on a DVD where you can pay full attention, and drown out the rest of the world enough to have that suspension of disbelief kick in. But a 2 or 3 inch screen when you are out in public and already have other things on your mind? Keep in mind that screen view has to compete with all the visual and sound distractions that will be around you when you out and about.
- Given that the type of mobile user who might be the most interested in watching a movie on their cell phone would also be a heavy voice user, I'd like to be sure that the movie-to-call-back to movie shift is seamless and without bugs.
- I know the specs of these phones indicate a battery life run time at least twice that of most feature films, but as cell phone and handset users know all too well, battery life specs and real world performance can vary.
- The $6.95 price point is reasonable, but I wonder about technologies that will subvert that model and lead to easy conversion of illegally obtained movie streams to cell phone format and size.
- Then, there's the noise factor, especially if you don't have a headset. I mean ring tones are annoying enough. But a scream from "Night In The Living Dead," let loose over your tinny cell speakers in a public place?