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Smartphones

Phone makers and content providers gear up for more video on the go, with Huawei’s Eric Xu saying ‘video is a must’

French and US media giants are already producing short-form content for watching on mobile phones, such as a mini series told in 10 episodes, each 10 minutes long

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 7:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 7:44am

The mobile phone industry is racing to improve its ability to deliver content as the popularity of watching TV series and films on small screens surges, forcing a shift in focus for the sector.

Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 50 per cent annually to account for over two-thirds of all mobile data traffic by 2021, according to a forecast by Sweden-based telecommunications operator Ericsson.

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The growing popularity of video is pushing phone makers to come up with devices with better screens and sound quality.

For telephone operators it is pushing them to work closely with media giants like Vivendi and Turner, who are ramping up production of video content made specifically for mobile devices.

“Video is not an option, it is a must for telecom operators today,” says Eric Xu, the chief executive of China’s Huawei, the world’s third-largest phone maker after Apple and Samsung, at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

French media group Vivendi, which owns YouTube competitor Dailymotion and France’s No.1 pay TV service Canal+, set up Studio+ last year to make high-quality mini series to be watched on smartphones.

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The company has so far produced 25 original series in five languages. Each series consists of 10 episodes lasting 10 minutes, which are distributed to paying subscribers via an app for people on the go.

“Our aim is to be the preferred partner of major carriers,” says Vivendi chief executive Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

The service allows telecom firms to “differentiate themselves” and encourages customers to sign up to plans with bigger data bundles so they can watch more video, he said.

US media giant Turner Communications, a division of Time Warner whose HBO channel is the home to popular shows such as Game of Thrones, has also started production groups that make short-form content “that is really, really specific for mobiles”, says Turner chief executive John Martin. “Mobile is an enormous opportunity,” he says.