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Mobile Video and the Enterprise

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Long Tail Video has an interesting post today about the state of live streaming to mobile devices and specifically issues with the Android platform:

The Pain of Live Streaming on Android

The group over there know their streaming, and if you’ve never heard of their flagship JW Player, head over to their site and check it out. I’ve worked with it before and it’s a highly configurable, simple and elegant solution for video playback.

What Ed Wolf points out in the blogpost is probably one of the greatest pain points for online video delivery across the enterprise – delivering quality video experiences to end users regardless of platform. It’s by no means a simple solution for on-demand viewing, but it becomes even more complex for live events. The introduction of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) was (as Ed indicates) supposed to solve this issue and make the delivery across platforms and devices simple, but as in all technology simple is a relative term.

As the bring your own device (BYOD) universe in the enterprise increases exponentially, the need for simple, manageable standards for delivery become even more critical. Of course, developing standards across competing brands and OS universes is not simple, and at the best of times standards-making bodies don’t act swiftly. So what’s an enterprise production house supposed to do to handle the inevitable requests for viewers using specific platforms?

The answer depends on your organization and your approach to video. The simplest, though not necessarily most cost-effective solution is to deliver video using a third-party provider and work closely with them to make certain they can handle the most popular devices. There are many reasons to use a third-party anyway, so it’s one more question to raise with them when evaluating vendors. Like every other decision, make sure you test it out thoroughly with all of the key platforms before committing to the vendor right before the big live event with the CEO.

The other option is simply not to offer it at all.  Again this depends on your organization, the maturity of your online video efforts and the company’s position on BYOD. I’ve been in the position of managing live event streaming, but we did it so infrequently to such a small audience that struggling with multiple platforms wasn’t worth the effort. We offered recommended configurations and warned users that it was likely to be a problem if they were outside that scope.

Long term this isn’t really an answer for a company and program that are serious about online video delivery – you will eventually have to find a way to offer the same content to users regardless of platform. Unfortunately we’re still a ways away from finding a single approach that will work universally, but at least there are some options to deliver live content everywhere.

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