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Live Video Streaming for Cell Phones Hitting, well, the Main Stream

Last week, a friend on Facebook (or actually an acquaintance… someone who I’ve never met in person, but within whom I’ve done a little work via phone and email) offered a link (via Facebook) to a live video stream of a techie industry party on a rooftop over-looking Washington, DC. The amazing thing was that when I clicked the link, it actually worked. Instantly, I was face-to-face, in a virtual sense, with party-goers who were saying things like “I just thought you were taking my picture…” to which this guy says, “No, you’re live on the web” and a quasi interview ensued.

The Video Web is expanding more rapidly than even I realized… and cell phone video, live streaming cell phone video, is to blame.

If you want a more widely-respected opinion, The New York Times wrote up the whole scene in a Sunday Business section column called “Novelties.” The article, “Capturing the Moment (and More) Via Cellphone Video,” includes some even more compelling examples from the likes of LA’s NPR radio leader, KCRW and mentions two leading live webcam video streaming website platforms (which are enabling these feeds): Kyte.com which calls itself “The Universal Digital Media Platform,” offers ideas for “monetization” and offers the image above as part of its self-promotion, and Qik.com which appears to be a bit more popular with the blogging/social networking crowd, including my pal in DC.

Kyte also offers among other things, “The Kyte Premium Facebook application (which) is more than a simple widget – it’s a branded social communications platform, featuring live video streaming, multimedia chat, viral distribution capabilities and monetization opportunities.” Don’t we all need one of those?

My Virtual CES Report

No, I didn’t go to CES (the consumer electronics mega-convention) in Las Vegas, but here are a few tidbits from the web that I’ve found worthy:

Scoble‘s doing Qik videos direct from his cell phone including this interview with the guys from YouTube:

And CNET picked this astoundingly innovative and open source BugLabs platform as its CES Awards winner for “emerging technologies.” I even like their video. Cool.

Set Cell Phones Free

The FCC’s upcoming ruling on wireless bandwidth has raised the issues about cell phones and why that bandwidth is so tightly controlled by the giant cell phone companies (like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg explains very clearly why this is VERY WRONG in his column, “Free My Phone” and I believe it is worthy of your consideration. At the very least, it’s fascinating that no less than a senior writer for the Wall Street Journal compares these telco giants to “Soviet ministries.”

Mossberg says that the approach to controlling hardware and software that these companies have taken (or have been allowed to take) “severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world…”

Bottom line, our cellular bandwidth subscription should not tie us to specific hardware and software any more than our internet provider subscription should tie us to a particular kind of computer, operating system or sub-set of applications. Of course, we should pay for bandwidth. It costs money to build networks. But there’s no reason that that should give the providers the right to tie our hands (within reason) regarding how we choose to use that bandwidth (with any kind of device we choose and any kind of software we choose) just like with the web.

Why does the American government keep letting the big companies get away with this stuff?? (rhetorical question)

New Palm Treo 680, 1/2 the price

Those interested in a “smart phone” with the Palm OS can now get the Treo from Cingular at roughly one-half the price ($199 with activation) of previous Treo models. I also like the fact that this is smaller by the fact that there’s no antenae sticking out of the top. Most of you know that this is the easiest smart phone to synch with a Mac. Here’s a video review from MobilityToday:

Way Too Cheery, But Good Flash-Phone Integration

And for another kind of convergence… Cheerioke! I’ve been enjoying my Gizmo Project software phone (see below). Voice over IP rules. But I’m also impressed with the way that the Cheerioke Flash application for an old time advertiser (General Mills) integrates telephone recording seamlessly into an interactive singing thingy. Listen to me if you dare, of visit Cheerioke.com.

An Emmy for the Leading Role in Mobile Video (cell phones, iPods, etc.)

I dunno. Seems kinda early to me, but I guess a trend is a trend and the National Academy of Televison Arts & Sciences wants to be part of it. NY Times reports: “And the Emmy for Best Actor on iPods Goes to …”

Beyond Skype for Internet Phone Calls

I decided to investigate this after reading that Gizmo Project was an Editor’s Pick in the Wired magazine “Test” issue. They say that Gizmo Project has better sound quality than Skype. No doubt it’s a much prettier looking application (Mac, Windows or Linux). It also includes FREE voice mail, IM integration, conference calls, and a one-click record button that should make it a natural for low budget podcasters. Also, I’m enthusiastic that Gizmo Project is totally committed to open standards.

So, I finally broke down and just ordered a USB headset from Headsets.com. I’ll let you know how it all works for me, but if you haven’t made the plunge into free and/or very low cost Internet telephone calls, this could be the techno ticket. Lemme know what you think.

Treo & Blackberry Look Out. Here comes Moto Q. & Mo’

Personally, I like being away from email when I’m away from my computer. It allows me more time to think for myself, introspection and all that.

But, yo, if you want your network wherever and whenever, here’s some new techno-fashion functionality to tickle yer IM type tastes: Read the ElectricNews.Net story on Moto Q and more.

Apple: the iPod Company (sales rock on)

No longer the Mac company, Apple may now be “the iPod company.” They shipped 7 times as many iPods in the last quarter at the year before, almost 6.2 million units, and only 1.2 million Macs (even though Mac sales did well too and represented more gross revenue). Read the Bloomberg report

Sony & Cingular Ready Next Gen Hi-Speed Wireless Net

Wireless computing is poised to expand beyond the limitations of Wi-Fi hot spots with next generation Enhanced Data GSM networking built into Sony’s new VAIO T300 ultra portables. Verizon will be next with it’s implementation of 3G. Some folks say that the immergence of a true wireless network–think computers with the reach of cell phones–will have an even bigger impact than the advent of the Internet.

In fact, if you haven’t read it, Howard Rheingold’s book, “Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution” makes quite an astounding case for the signifigance of ubiqitous wireless computing, from chips on cereal boxes to all kinds of GPS-empowered devices. The new wireless network is not something to be underestimated, in my not so humble estimation.

More info about the new VAIO and the various new wireless networks here.