Blog Post

Video On the iPhone: A Few Theories

It seems all but confirmed by Apple (s aapl) that video capabilities will be present with the next-generation iPhone. It may be in a few months. It may be next year. But what I’m really curious to know is what will video recording on the iPhone look like? There are a wide range of possibilities and I have a few theories, so let’s take a look.

Record now, upload later

This is the most boring of the possibilities. iPhone users will record videos, watch them on the iPhone, and eventually sync with a computer to upload them. In this case they will probably appear in the Movies section of iTunes on your computer where they can be exported to iMovie or uploaded to YouTube directly. I’m limiting this scenario to YouTube because that functionality already exists in iMovie.

This will be a closed system. Third-party applications on the iPhone will not have access to videos. The only way to upload the videos to the Internet is through syncing with a computer.

Record now, upload through the camera app

This is another closed system. The difference is iPhone users will be able to record videos and immediately upload them to the Internet through the camera app. Possible services include:

  • YouTube — Likely because it’s an established feature in iMovie.
  • Flickr (with a maximum length of 90 seconds) — The latest version of iPhoto allows Flickr photo uploads, so this may be an expansion of that relationship.
  • Facebook — Likely because it’s another new photo upload service in iPhoto. A video agreement between Facebook and Apple could significantly increase the number of video uploads to Facebook.
  • MobileMe — Perhaps Apple will introduce a basic video upload service for MobileMe subscribers. Anyone can view the videos, but only subscribers can upload to the service.

This will most likely require a Wi-Fi connection since AT&T’s (s t) 3G bandwidth is so limited.

Record now, upload from any application

Videos will be able to upload through any third-party application on the iPhone. For example, Facebook’s iPhone application will have a new button for recording video. Flickr apps, like Mobile Fotos, will also have this new button. Now imagine your favorite Twitter app (Tweetie!) adding a video record button. The recorded video will automatically upload to a video service, and a tweet will be generated with a link to the video. Cool!

Sadly, this will still require a Wi-Fi connection.

Record now, upload any way you want

Upload from any application. Upload with any connection speed…except Edge. This is obviously the most “open” format, but it seems it would fight against Apple’s desire to control the details.

What do you think? If and when video comes to the iPhone, what do you think the functionality will be like?

7 Responses to “Video On the iPhone: A Few Theories”

  1. Jim O

    I once had a Blackberry that was “photo-only” with no video caopabilitites. A software update to that phone provided video, and it was great. I now have a brand new iPhone 3G and was surprised that video (and turn by turn nav) were not available. Apple should be able to add the video functionality to the existing platform without waiting for the new platform. As always…it is a money issue…

  2. There is no doubt that upload will be possible over 3G – limiting it to WiFi would be like telling iPhone users they should have just got an iPod touch with no need for a data bill.

    AT&T (and I’m sure many of networks around the World) are doubling the speed of their 3G network as we speak, presumably in preparation for the next iPhone. Sure, this will be great marketing – “The Internet, Twice as Fast, AGAIN” but it will also allow them to handle a) a great increase in the volume of data traffic – from MORE iPhones and b) more data traffic from more transfers – video as an example.

    I don’t believe we’ll see video conferencing in this version of the iPhone – I kind of want it, but I don’t think Apple are going to take the risk of doing it until they have it spot on. They have a ton of patents for putting cameras in/behind the LCD screen itself to give true eye to eye conversations, but this is no easy task – I don’t think they’re ready to launch this mainstream anytime this year.

    All in all, video will be here soon, and we’ve already seen a supposed video upload screen for MobileMe. It’s only a matter of time until it gets thrown into developers’ hands too.

    Video? There’s an app for that.

  3. Gazoobee

    Given that Apple already supports integration through iLife with Flickr, Facebook, MobileMe, and is joined at the hip to Google and YouTube, I think that we will be able to upload or interact with all of those at minimum.

    I don’t see any reason why the video upload would be restricted to WiFi only either. what’s the point of paying the huge data bill every month if you can’t tether, can’t upload anything big, can’t download a podcast or a video etc. etc. They may not allow this right away, but I don’t see AT&T getting away with all these data restrictions at the same time as they supposedly speed up their network and have such high prices. At least not for long.

  4. I believe Apple to be a game changer. I have several iSight camera’s and nowadays all Macs come even with camera’s build in. So would it be to far out to think Apple will be the first to deliver true video conferencing with the iPhone? If not than we’ll probably see a Flip Mino competitor.