Sunday, March 11, 2007

Movies "On The Go"

I received a very nice letter from my cellular provider this week, informing me that I can now have the pleasure of watching "Spiderman 2" on my mobile phone.
I might frame this letter as verification of the moment one of our telecom giants officially acknowledged that they don't have a fricken clue and are completely out of touch with not only their customers' desires but the potential of their own technology.

"NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING" no longer only applies to screenwriting and Hollywood.

The phone pictured in the Ad is the one I own, a state of the art Samsung a920. It's a pretty good phone. It has a videocam and a camera, emails, text messages, links to the web, plays MP3s as well as having USB ports and a media player. I've had it for a year and still haven't mastered all the bells and whistles, but I'm fairly certain I can also make and receive phone calls.

Unfortunately, my subscription also gives me full access to Bell Mobility's much advertised video service, which I can best describe as a complete waste of time and money.

The service offers news, usually from yesterday; hockey highlights from 2 days ago and business updates from last week, all displayed on a 2" screen. Maybe I could actually make out the numbers on the player's sweaters if I switched over to a Blackberry, but that still wouldn't make the highlights more up to date, would it?

Never mind the age of the internet, these guys are behind radio and bi-weekly community newspapers.

I know Bell Mobility has access to current information because it's part of the ginormous media conglomerate that includes the Globe and Mail, CTV, TSN, ROBTV, Expressvu et al. And to be fair, my phone also allows me to watch MuchMusic live, along with CBC, FOX, and TLC were I to purchase a "Fuel" bundle.

But what Bell Mobility lacks in immediacy, they make up for with eye candy. I can tune to a channel called "Babes and Hunks" where (in the Babes section) the titles range from "Bathtime" to "Kinky Undies" and see 90 seconds or so of barely legal young women dancing in bikinis and lingerie.

This reminds me of those old flip card penny arcade machines that offered Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties for a nickle. As they say in LA, content never changes, only context.

There are actually three separate female model channels in "Babes and Hunks". Interestingly, the "Vixens" sub-channel seems to feature young women who are Asian or Black. Is Bell trying to insinuate something here...?

For research purposes, I checked out 2 titles in "Hunks". Both featured guys I'd guess were 16 and Eastern European playing with their soccer balls.

You surfers from the CRTC will be pleased to know there is identifiable Canadian content. That would be "Nicole from Hooters in Hamilton" (as we all know Hamilton is Babe Central in the Hooters empire). Nicole informs me she likes "camping and long walks on the beach" as she stretches in her bikini.

I'm not going to ask who watches this crap. I know. It's people stuck in cubicles at Bell Mobility. People who never see windows let alone encounter other human life forms unless it's in the lunch line at the Druxy's down in the lobby.

I'm certain this is the case because only people with absolutely no access to any form of media except their complimentary company phone would find any of this insipid drivel interesting.

They are part of a corporate culture so insular and out of touch, they now apparently believe somebody wants to pay $5.99 to watch a 2 year old movie dependent on visual effects and Dolby sound on a 2" screen and hands free headset.


That's an exaggeration.

The Ad says "starting from $5.99" and, given Bell Mobility's various "frame enhancements", the actual video image on their top of the line Samsung a920 is 1"x1.25".

Unless they Letterbox it.

Excuse me?

Yes. Some of Bell Mobility's offerings are letterboxed, reducing the size of their screen to 1.25"x.5". They look something like this.

Boy, that'll deliver Spidey in all his glory, won't it? "I think he's the little red dot between those two skyscraper shaped things."

This just is not the way to use this technology, let alone attract new customers.

One of my heroes is Mark Cuban. Those of you who don't link to his blog, should. (He's on my list -- up and to the right). Mark made his Billions by being on the forefront of internet broadcasting and now owns the Dallas Mavericks, HDNet, 2929 Productions, Magnolia Films and a whole lot more.

We first met in a hotel elevator where I cracked him up with "Hey, you're that guy from the future!" and our paths have crossed a few times since.

Mark "gets it". He understands where we might be going in this business, correctly predicted the post Google decline of YouTube, initiated the concept of simultaneous release patterns and continues to warn the media dinosaurs that without quantum change, their extinction is imminent. He has this to say about the bells and whistles on my Bell Mobility phone -- they're TIME WASTERS.

They have replaced buying magazines, crossword puzzles and the like as ways to fill our odd moments. They are snacks not meals and they are certainly not the way anyone wants to experience a motion picture.

Last year, I attended a seminar on new distribution systems that included representatives from major studios and networks, Blockbuster, Tivo as well as P2P and cellular providers. They all had their individual grand plans for the shining future. But all were dependent on the same thing -- selling the content they already owned over and over again in every imaginable format until the only guy who hadn't seen it was deaf, dumb, blind and living in a mud hut in Gabon.

Noticeable to anyone not drinking the Kool-Aid was that as the returns on distribution diminished the technology required to disseminate and access it became ever more expensive. They were spending dollars to chase dimes.

At $10/month Bell Video already offers me nothing and for another $5.99 I will be able to download a movie I can't even see.

If the Bell guys really understood their customers and the way that audience uses their digital services, they'd realize that nobody is going to spend the two hour and seven minute running time of "Spiderman 2" staring at their cell phone. Even the nine year olds who might be gullible enough to fall for this began downloading chunks of "Spiderman 3" two weeks ago! You Bell guys remember two weeks ago. It was when Buffalo beat Toronto in the hockey highlight reel you're still running!!!

I don't have all the answers for what will work as Mobile phone video. But I have one. It's an idea my banker is eager to finance and the 14 - 25 year olds we've test marketed call "Awesome!". But I can't get anybody at Bell Mobility to talk to me.

So, if you're languishing in one of those cubicles, surfing the net in search of real porn or maybe a glimpse of what's going on in the world, give me a call. I think I can get your company into the 21st century and maybe get you an office with a window plus enough money to take Nicole for a walk on that beach she loves instead of ogling her over a plate of wings or squinting at her on your phone.


wcdixon said...

To pull a page from DMc's book, that's just 'tarded.

CAROLINE said...

I just want my crap phone to work as a phone ... I don't want to watch anything on it. Is that too much to ask, says she who is dropping her phone off tomorrow for a third attempt at repairs. Grrr.

Jiangtou said...

This ad campaign burns me up every time I see the ads on the subway. So out of touch. I linked your post on my blog as that little ad hits a tender nerve...