Mobile Device Control, Streaming On Display At CTIA

At the annual CTIA show in San Francisco this week, streaming and ad-driven models are being touted as new ways to attract consumers to wireless devices.

CTIA, also known as The Wireless Association, is a membership organization representing all sectors of wireless communications—cellular, personal communication services and enhanced specialized mobile radio. As such, its influence has grown to the point where CTIA events are used to showcase new technologies.

Acknowledging the opportunity provided by additional computing power in portable mobile devices, which the company says is equivalent to desktop computers from the same era when it launched Windows 2000, Microsoft rolled out a set of administrative applications today at CTIA during Steve Ballmer’s keynote address.

Aimed at taking on Research in Motion (RIM) on the turf of massive enterprise rollouts, Microsoft’s System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 is a key tool in the company’s attempt to put administration of Windows Mobile devices on the same ease-of-use scale as RIM has been able to do with its Blackberry devices. The software allows administrators to determine what types of applications and, ultimately, what kinds of rich media, an enterprise user will see.

"Mobile IT administrators don't want to roll out 10,000 devices. They want roll out one device 10,000 times," said Michael Gartenberg, analyst at Jupiter Research. "Microsoft is hoping to replicate the success and the model of the PC." Microsoft’s stated goal is to sell 20 million Windows Mobile devices in fiscal year 2008, which began on July 1, 2007.

On the streaming delivery front, three announcements were of note.

First, Action Engine launched its MediaPro integrated multimedia service that allows mobile service providers, or websites seeking to make their sites more mobile-friendly, to enable advertising for on-demand mobile video content

"Our customers want user-friendly, easy-to-manage mobile applications that deliver streaming media and video advertisements across a wide variety of devices," said Scott G. Silk, president and CEO of Action Engine.

Besides the typical set of features, such as encoding, bandwidth optimization, and content hosting, the Media Pro toolkit, which MSNBC uses, also tracks video and audio usage and ties this information back to third-party billing systems. On the advertising front, the system appears agnostic to types of streaming advertising, including pre-roll, interstitials, and post-roll video commercials.

Second, on the short-clip front, Vantrix, a company that creates portals for major media companies, announced that it’s launching a video advertising inventory service. The Weather Channel will be the first customer to use the service and the news is of interest for the scale at which it will launch as well as the room for growth.

The Weather Channel Mobile is one of the top 5 mobile websites in the U.S., attracting approximately 6 million unique visitors each month, according to Telephia, a research company focusing on the telecom and mobile media markets. Yet the potential growth in the market has barely been tapped.

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