Bert and Ernie Go Wireless: IDC Sees Verizon VCAST Becoming A Wireless Babysitter

FRAMINGHAM, MA – June 23, 2005 – Wireless video over cell phones has largely been conceptualized as a world aimed at adults, with sports clips, newscasts, entertainment updates, and 'mobisode' episodes of popular television series designed for cell phone experience. IDC believes that children's programming over wireless handsets is a rapidly evolving area that deserves fuller industry attention and also highlights additional industry issues and needs.

In 2005, wireless video is now one of the top industry-wide areas of focus. 'Electronic babysitting' is a potentially strong value proposition for wireless video offerings to parents of very young children. When Verizon Wireless launched its VCAST video service earlier this year, in addition to the standard offerings of CNN, ESPN,, it was notable that Sesame Street was included in the one- to three-minute video clips. Offering children's video programming to an adult subscriber base using high-end 3G handsets was a gamble. It is an experiment that appears to be proving an early success.

Verizon Wireless has reported anecdotally that usage of Sesame Street has been higher than initially expected. "I have offered my own VCAST phone and service to parents of young children at airports and on airplanes, with a near 100% success rate at tears and tantrum avoidance," says Scott Ellison, program director, Wireless and Mobile Communications at IDC. He noted that in each instance, not only the child was immediately absorbed in the VCAST video clips, but more striking was the positive reaction of the parents.

The rapid evolution of wireless content capabilities, especially video, is creating entirely new markets for the content and wireless industries. Developing wireless content and applications aimed at young children and their parents is a natural progression of the evolution of wireless. Product development that addresses real parent needs is another step in the development of a wireless retail market that is already well underway. It also has the potential to drive additional content and usage revenue streams.

The IDC Insight, Bert and Ernie Go Wireless: The Emergence of the Cell Phone as a Wireless Babysitter (IDC #33524), analyzes the market opportunity for wireless content and video offerings aimed at very young children, and how they might play a key role in driving the adoption of wireless video offerings by parents. It examines how cell phones may morph into 'electronic babysitters,' along with the issues and challenges of wireless content and video programming for young children that will be faced by the wireless industry.

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