Tapioca Gets the Message—and the Video—to Mobile Phone Masses

Tapioca Mobile wants to see your cellular phone play more videos, and the San Diego-based wireless media company has the know-how to do it—no matter what phone you use. Tapioca has created a unique video-transcoding process and has, according to co-founder and CTO Chas Wurster, “the largest footprint of addressable video mobile devices in the U.S. We can get video into the hands of more consumers than anybody else.”

Tapioca is helping users gain access to video in a couple of different ways, by using multimedia messaging (MMS) or text messaging (SMS). Its customers include Univision, NBC, FOX-TV stations, and Border Media, a chain of radio stations previously known as BMP. These customers send video or audio clips of weather reports, news reports, and special messages to Tapioca, which uses its technology to distribute the clips to cell phone users who have signed up to get the broadcasters’ content.

Mass messaging is a technology and market that still has plenty of room to boom, as more video-capable devices come to market and prices come down. But any company attempting to provide such a service faces a daunting technical challenge: it’s not possible to use a single technology to transmit video that can be received by the multitude of cell phones.

For example, when Tapioca gets a video clip from Univision, the Spanish language network, the company processes the video so that it can be used with different messaging technologies. So video of a breaking news event can be sent to Univision’s subscriber base as an MMS message with the video clip or as an SMS message with a link that can be opened using the phone’s net browser. Different phones, bandwidths, carriers, transcoding, and video standards make this … Next Page »

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