Small Keeps On Getting Bigger4 Nov, 2004 By: Thomas K. Arnold
My hometown paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, just ran a big story about local cell-phone maker Qualcomm's plans to build a nationwide network for delivering video and audio on cellular telephones.
The service, which will cost about $800 million to develop and maintain over the next four to five years, would deliver news, entertainment or sports programs to subscribers of U.S. wireless companies that pay for the service beginning in 2006.
This jives with a half-joking comment Carl Reiner made at our recent TV DVD Conference about one day being able to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” on his wristwatch.
I can see both these scenarios becoming true, with packaged media (as opposed to wireless delivery) also playing a part once the size of the physical medium is miniaturized accordingly (and I'll be the first to say it — the next step in DVD's evolution will be a smaller disc, probably even before high-definition becomes a reality).
There's an interesting thing going on between generations. While we grownups are looking at bigger and bigger TVs, the younger kids are getting quite enchanted with smaller screens. The other day I caught my 6-year-old, Conner, watching a movie on his Game Boy. The screen is maybe an inch and a half wide, but no matter — he's just as content watching a film on his hand-held video game console as he is playing a game on it.
Our publisher, Don Rosenberg, recounted a similar experience with his son, who is 14.
And just think of all the new cars coming out with DVD players. Those monitors that drop down from the ceiling or are embedded in the headrests — they're dinky, and yet the kids don't seem to mind.
Will this fascination with all things small continue as these consumers-of-tomorrow grow up and have serious money to spend? Companies such as Qualcomm appear to be betting that they will — although I have to say, now that I'm past 40, the small print on the back of medicine bottles is getting awful damn hard to read.
And lately, even the morning newspaper is a little fuzzy.
Oh, well. Maybe the folks at Qualcomm know something I don't.