Mobile video is frequently talked about as a rapidly growing driver of social sharing of videos, but it will have a much farther reaching impact than that on the future of video in general. We have talked about the importance of being mobile ready, but new data from Ericsson elucidates how critical it really is, as well as the additional ways mobile is driving change for online video. Read on for our five year forecast for mobile video.

A Look At the Numbers

To say mobile video is growing is an understatement. New data from Ericsson mobile forecasts mobile video to grow 13x over the next 5 years, outpacing every other mobile activity.

Ericsson chart of growth in video mobile data traffic
Chart Credit: Ericsson Mobility Report.

It will also represent more than 50% of all mobile data traffic by 2019, up from around 35-40% in 2013:

Ericsson chart of video mobile data traffic
Chart Credit: Ericsson Mobility Report.

User behavior is changing, and rapidly. As those charts from Ericsson clearly demonstrate, an increasing percent of viewers are choosing to watch on mobile devices rather than fixed screens. This is not great news for traditional broadcast TV and fixed TVs, but for app developers and the new original content producers like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, it’s fantastic news.

Lines Are Blurring Between Devices

Partly in response to these shifts in behavior, the lines between smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs are eroding. Smartphone screen size is increasing, as is the resolution, while optional keyboards for tablets, touchscreens for laptops, and smart TVs are increasingly commonplace. Operating systems are becoming “tabletized” and UX is shifting to either touchscreens or even gestures. The computing power of mobile devices is also increasing exponentially, making tasks like video editing and other memory-intensive tasks now easy and slick on most mobile devices.

These trends will fundamentally change how video appears on the web. HTML5 video is better suited to mobile playback, and as others have posited, the future of Flash is uncertain at best. The groundswell being interactive video and mobile advertising will only accelerate this trend.

Also, the smarter phones get, the better mobile video will look. Video encoded for playback on mobile devices used to be encoded at a low resolution due to the speed of the networks and the processing capabilities of the phones. Today, you can get true HD playback on a phone or tablet, and ultra-HD is not too far away from becoming a reality for mobile viewers. This chart from Ericsson compares the bitrates necessary to stream different video resolutions using the H.264 codec and the H.265 codec:

Ericsson chart of bitrates required for different video resolutions
Chart Credit: Ericsson Mobility Report.

If you think video looks pretty good on your phone now, just wait a year or two. The pace will depend not just on device manufacturers, but also cellular and WiFi networks.

What This Means To You

The importance of having a mobile-optimized website and mobile-optimized video is more clear than ever before. Responsive design is the new standard, while interactive design is becoming more popular by the day. Acquiring the skills or the talent needed to implement these new trends will help your business benefit from these emerging trends, and stay abreast of the shift towards mobile video.

Do you watch video on your phone? Has the experience changed noticeably for you in recent years? How do you see this impacting your business? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Twitter.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted June 4, 2014

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