Rory Cellan-Jones

Media on your mobile

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 12 Feb 08, 18:42 GMT

Do you really want to watch movies on your mobile? And would you rather get unlimited music bundled with your phone, or pay for each track? As media giants examine new opportunities and risks in the mobile world, these are two questions being pondered by industry executives in Barcelona. And by Isabella Rossellini.

The actress and film-maker – and daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini – is one of the more unlikely visitors to the more Mobile World Congress but she certainly made a far more interesting interviewee than most of the executives with their stream of acronyms and jargon.

Ms Rossellini is here to promote a series of short films she has made especially for mobile phones, in a project backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Channel. Her five films are called “Green Porno” and, believe it or not, are about the sex lives of insects. As she explained, how can you go wrong with a mixture of innovation, environmentalism and sex?

Isabella Rossellini said she wasn't the right person to comment on the business model for mobile movies – then went on to talk in some detail about the attractions to advertisers of a medium where you know exactly who is watching your content.

For now, short movies are likely to be seen as little more than promotional gimmicks used by operators to show off the capabilities of their handsets. It's in the business of music on the mobile that the real media battle is now hotting up.

Both the record labels and the mobile industry are determined not to let Apple's iPhone win the same dominance in mobile music as it has on the desktop. And after saying goodbye to Isabella Rossellini I went to get a glimpse of the secret weapon that is supposed to stop that happening.

Rob Lewis of Omnifone – the British firm whose MusicStation service is used by a number of networks as an iTunes rival – showed me the new LG phone which is supposed to be the iPhone killer. It comes loaded with MusicStation Max, which promises unlimited free music downloads over a 3G network. Well actually, there will be a limit – you can't own more music than the phone holds.

But Mr Lewis was quite convincing about the attractions – the phone will probably come free with an 18 month contract, its contents will be continuously backed up onto the network's server, so if you lose the handset you can retrieve your music, and if you decide not to renew the contract you can keep what's on your phone. The one downside is that you never actually “own” the music – the DRM prevents you from burning it to a CD, for instance.

We were not allowed to film the phone – but I can tell you it's a touchscreen device which looks just like an iPhone but also has a slide-out keyboard. So is this really the device which will give the music industry a chance to halt Apple's inexorable advance as a digital music giant?

Maybe, but music fans now seem convinced that anything cool has got to have an “i” in front of it, so don't bet on it.


  • 1.
  • At 09:40 AM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • me wrote:

Does anyone know what this new LG phone is called, cause ill probably get it as i hate Apple and everything they stand for (so that rules out the rediculously expensive and probably buggy iPhone) and i like my current LG phone "Prada", which actually has nothing to do with Prada apart from the name, but its a decent touch screen phone.

  • 2.
  • At 12:22 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • D wrote:

The new LG phone is not out yet - but is expected by the end of the first half of 2008 ... see this article

  • 3.
  • At 01:09 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Morton wrote:

Am I alone in using my mobile just to speak to people? I've never sent a text, have no idea if my phone connects to the internet, have never played a game on it or bought a ringtone. I bought it originally to call the RAC if the car broke down and keep it because I work in some remote places and need to be reachable. I also only buy a new phone when the old one breaks down and can not be repaired. In 10 years I'm on my third phone which luckily works fine.

Am I a freak or are there others out there like me?

  • 4.
  • At 10:56 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

I own a "3" 3G phone and being able to access live TV etc is handy, especially if I'm on the train going into London.

What I would like to see is better "push" technology using 3G.

Yes I can access TFL on my phone or my laptop using my phone connection, but I'd like sort of one stop summaries that might cover on video say summary of the news, sport and traffic or public transport delivered to my phone inbox for my area.

TFL will send me an email, but only at fixed times, I'd rather have a 90 second summary of info sent to my phone by video.

Come on BBC this is ideal for you lot to do.

  • 5.
  • At 11:59 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • A wrote:

In response to Nick Morton, I guess this is down to what used to be called the generation gap. Not sure if this is politically correct nowadays, but there does seem to be a shift to being constantly told that you cant live without a mobile phone and that you should have it welded to your right or left ear. Bearing in mind that from a certain age, we were told to actually live a real life first hand, You could say technology has overtaken the desire to experience your one and one shot of real living. I don't think you are a freak, but more a content individual with what you have and see no need to adopt something that clearly has no appeal to you. That is the freedom of choice we all enjoy to some extent. The same arguments abound now to the legions of internet addicts who would rather type meaningless drivel into instant messaging programs than actually go out, meet real people, socialise and experience life in the first instance. No rights and wrongs in these comments, just the ability to have and make choices.

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