You know it’s a strange, finicky sign of the times when MySpace announces that it has launched a beta mobile video site that will stream video directly to handsets around the globe — but that news is almost immediately deflated by what it doesn’t include: namely iPhone support and Hulu content.
That’s a bit unfair to MySpace, which must have worked hard with transcoding company RipCode to add video to the social network’s mobile site, which lets users watch their favorite community and premium content videos on the go. But since the service is streaming and not a progressive download, it won’t work on the iPhone. MySpace knew this was going to be a big deal and even included an explanation in its FAQ:
Why did MySpace choose to support RTSP-streaming at the launch rather than progressive download which would provide support for the Apple iPhone?
Based on research from industry analysts, the majority of the mobile community has streaming-enabled devices, especially in the U.S. market. This is supported by MySpace’s own mobile web site traffic analysis. In addition, device manufacturers like RIM which have historically only supported progressive download, are now rolling out new BlackBerry devices supporting streaming video including the BlackBerry Bold, Palm Centro, Motorola Q9, LG Voyager, Nokia N95, and Samsung Instinct. By launching with support for mobile streaming, MySpace is reaching a wide community of subscribers.
If you have one of those aforementioned phones, you’ll be able to watch videos from the community and from the likes of MySpace’s branded channels such as TMZ, College Humor and VIMBY. But you won’t be able to watch anything from MySpace content partner Hulu (at least not at launch, according to a MySpace rep). This isn’t too surprising, as it’s highly unlikely that Hulu would let MySpace be the first to offer its content through mobile channels.
At the GigaOM Mobilize conference this past September, both MySpace and Facebook talked up their mobile initiatives, though they spoke in terms of communication rather than entertainment.
There was a time when this would have been big news, but mobile video in and of itself isn’t as impressive anymore, and there has been a lot of activity in the mobile video space lately. Joost launched an iPhone app this past weekend, MediaFLO is broadcasting the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on mobile devices tomorrow night, and Qik launched an alpha of its live-streaming service for select BlackBerries.