The iPhone's Challenge to Mobile Video

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The Apple iPhone is a major player in the mobile Internet space, but the iPhone still doesn't support Flash, which means it can't display most of the video available online. What's a hardworking video site to do?

Until the folks in Cupertino decide to allow the iPhone's Safari browser to display Flash content, online video sites really only have one option if they want to reach iPhone users: re-encode their entire library in a compatible format.

That's what how-to site MonkeySee.com did with its 8,000 multi-segment titles. Just this week it made its entire library available to iPhone users in high-bitrate streaming HD.

That might sound like a lot of work, but according to Greg Letourneau, the CEO of Knowlera Media (parent company to MonkeySee.com), the site's automation system made it easy.

Automated Assistance
Most of MonkeySee.com's content is produced in-house, with full HD versions of each video stored on the company's RAID drive. An automated system takes over from there, adding bumpers, trailers, and watermarks.

Getting that automated system to return to the HD source files and create new iPhone-friendly versions of the videos wasn't a problem said Letourneau. The resulting videos are big—900kbps mv4 files—but the iPhone's new 3G mobile broadband connectivity means they play without a stutter.

"Depending on your network connection, it might take a few seconds for it to start playing," said Letourneau, but that's all.

MonkeySee.com could have create lower-bandwidth versions for the original iPhone to play over that device's EDGE connection, but Letourneau said they were never happy with the EDGE experience.

Are you converting your online video so that it's viewable on the iPhone? Comment on the iPhone thread in the WVU forum.

"As far as we know, we're the only how-to-dedicated video site that permits you to view videos on the iPhone 3G," said Letourneau.

An iPhone World
Why worry so much about compatibility with one mobile device, when there are so many on the market? Letourneau said MonkeySee.com views the iPhone as extremely important to its business.

Besides the iPhone 3G's dramatic sales figures—one million units sold the first weekend alone—the iPhone offers a great way to view instructional videos.

"For how-to content, it's really quite handy for a variety of things," Letourneau said. Need to fix a leaky pipe under the sink or need help barbecuing in the backyard? It's hard to bring your computer there, but easy to bring an iPhone.

Streaming all that free HD video is costly, but Letourneau isn't worried about that yet. MonkeySee.com launched this January and is still working on building an audience. The site will begin serving ads soon, and he's confident that ad revenue will cover the bandwidth costs.

To experience the site's high-quality how-to videos for yourself, point your iPhone or computer to MonkeySee.com.

This article was first published on webvideouniverse.com.

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