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I guess it's up to me to debunk this tv on cellphone fad

There's a type of strange, counterintuitive faddishness at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that to me, defies all manner of logic.Since few if any other bloggers will speak out about it, I view it as my role to do so.
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Written by Russell Shaw on
There's a type of strange, counterintuitive faddishness at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that to me, defies all manner of logic.

Since few if any other bloggers will speak out about it, I view it as my role to do so.

I am referring to rampant, contagious "platformitis-" the mad rush to enable all types of video content on just about any form factor. That would be from 70-inch plasma tv giants all the way down to eentsy weentsy 2-inch wide cell phone screens like Verizon Vcast's plans to air network tv shows in real time.

This is truly the march of the fevered and clueless. And its not only the big content players and access providers. Even on the taxicab line at the airport last night, I overheard two hyperexcited types talk about how they were going to get Japanese animation on cell phones, and how cool all the main cell phone networks think this will be.

I now shout with all my might: outside of a few million eager adopters- few of whom are old enough to have their own credit cards for buying the products the frothing-at-the-mouth types envision as financial ballast for these service- full-motion video on cell phones ain't gonna work.

Yes I know about processors, 3G and realistic frames per second. But no. The average tv series, sporting event or movie has more visual points of reference within each frame than is capable of fitting on a small screen. The tired but true analogy of "Grand Canyon on a Postage Stamp" applies. I just don't think a demographically or numerically significant audience will watch even part of the show. The whole show? Eyestrain, plus the distractions more easily able to penetrate the brain of someone attached to a 2-inch screen than a 40.

That's not to say some rich media won't work on cell phones. YouTube videos, which tend to focus on a central subject where the background scenery is not important, do work on cell phones. But tv shows do not. And that's not even taking into consideration the fact that when these hyperdeals result in prime-time series being available on cellphone networks, the evening hours will find cell users either out on the town and not caring about what's on cellphone tv- or at home with a large screen tv nearby.

And on the other end of the scale, sure the Slingboxes can toss YouTube video to your big screen tv. But is all this effort worth short videos with pixel-y Flash?

Of course not.

I have to tell you what is behind all this madness. A deranged fever among programmers that we have to get our stuff in front of as many eyeballs as possible. And of course, the manufacturers and carriers (anticipating sales of devices/minutes/subscription upgrades) are only happy to enable. Add to that at CES, we have lots of consumer electronics retailers who have been sucked in by this silliness.

Can't we think of something more creative we can do with consumer technology than this madness?

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