Monday, October 24, 2005

Download v. Streaming

First, a shout out to the Seattle Times for pointing to our blog in today's business section. Thanks, Tricia.

Spend part of the weekend playing with a streaming solution for mobile podcasts. Interesting experience, and while I tried to keep an open mind and not think like a competitor I found it hard to think that streaming is the better way to listen to a podcast on a phone. At the same time streaming has some differences that consumers might find preferable.

Streaming allows more handset coverage because, at least this solution, uses WAP. Because it uses WAP it pushes consumers to a web page for customization, which is more familiar. Because there's no file download there's no podcast size restriction.

On the other hand, the streaming solution forces the consumer to make some choices they may not understand. Before I could play a podcast I had to select my preferred codec. OK for me, not for my mom. To play a podcast I have to enter the WAP address in my phone browser, and I have to do this every time I want a podcast. Cumbersome process made harder based on the phone.

We did some user testing with Mobilcast this past week. Other than the headache of entering the download address into the phone browser the user experience was pretty good. Consumers had no problem finding and launching the app, searching for a podcast, and downloading it to the phone. Gave us confidence that we were making the right choices.

I think the next step is to find some consumers and have a shoot out with the streaming solution to determine which one provides the most user friendly solution, and to continue to understand consumer expectations so we can exceed them.

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