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Industry’s Answer to iPhone: Sideloading

Watching a movie on a smart mobile phone is a fairly new idea, but getting that movie to the customer is harder than it should be for everyone except Apple. To fix that, according to the L.A. Times, the industry has come up with "sideloading," buying a movie on a mobile phone memory card.

The Apple iPhone is designed to connect to the owner’s computer and download movies or TV shows purchased via the iTunes store on the Internet. However, the rest of the industry doesn’t have an equivalent architecture that’s as easy to use and well integrated as Apple’s iTunes.

Even though a movie purchased over a carrier’s carefully controlled network is likely to be legitimately paid for, the complaint is that it’s too hard for the content providers to present their offerings. Shopping isn’t easy, but it needs to be because the carriers have a convenient situation whereby user selections are simply added to the monthly bill. There’s no credit card guilt.

To get around this problem, content providers are planning to sell movies directly to customers on memory cards. No downloading, rather, "sideloading."

One indication of the problem is the total sales so far on the music side. IDC has estimated that the carriers will sell about US$155M in downloadable songs in 2007. Apple sells that much music in 45 days.

By circumventing carrier bottlenecks, the content providers can go directly to the customer, and demand for content should soar. Interestingly, Apple has been able to put an infrastructure into place in a way that the entire mobile phone industry could not. It’s just more evidence that Apple, a newbie to the mobile phone industry, should be feared.

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