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March - 2007 - issue > Cover Story
Umundo - Entertainment Anytime, Anywhere!
Krishna Kumar
Thursday, March 1, 2007
“I shoot awesome videos and my friends are always asking me to show them right away. I’ve sort of got that news-reporter sense about me, so it just comes naturally. Some of my friends have even told me that they watch my MySpace page just to checkout my latest video clips. I wish that I could create my own news channel and my friends--or anyone--could subscribe to and view it anytime, anywhere; on their cell phones, their laptops, their home computers or their social networking sites or wherever. Why can’t people do that yet?”

“I love going to concerts and games, but I miss them when I’m away at school or on vacation. I’ve got great friends, who shoot video clips at concerts for me with their cell phones, and I feel like I’m right there. I just wish I could watch them anywhere I want, on the beach or between classes. And why can’t I just automatically receive new videos and interviews released by my favorite bands, straight to my cell phone or even to my ipod? Can’t somebody invent something for that?”

Welcome to Umundo, a new era of entertainment, bringing people the services they want and advancing the power of Web 2.0 to create Entertainment 2.0. Umundo enables automatic delivery of digital content anytime, anywhere. (On multitude of mobile and web platforms.)

Of course, if Umundo doesn’t ring any bells yet, don’t worry; you will soon become very familiar with this ubiquitous service that’s geared to completely change your entertainment options. Whether you’re cruising on the interstate, or at a busy outing with family, out at happy hour with friends, Umundo lets you capture those rare moments on video and share them with the rest of the world. All it takes is your video-enabled cell phone, any internet-enabled gadget (or even a video Ipod), and simple web access. Umundo connects you with your favorite songs and video clips and allows you to send and receive thousands of them as well. Imagine having that kind of access while you’re on the move!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just another YouTube. Umundo means "Your World" in Spanish, and it is set to truly revolutionize the entertainment industry. While YouTube and other similar video sharing services allow you to store videos, Umundo's patent pending technology helps you create, store, and distribute videos seamlessly and automatically without any hassle! That means you can even subscribe to content rather than doing tedious Google searches in subjects you’re interested in.

"It’s all about instantly sharing your experiences,” explains a beaming Prashant Parekh, while giving a live demo on his Nokia N93 cell phone. “All you have to do is to shoot a 90 second video clip on your mobile phone and send it by email or MMS to video@umundo.com. The clip will automatically be sent to all your friends, family, and peers who have subscribed to your video clips on Umundo and view it on one or more standard platforms such as MySpace, iTunes, My Yahoo, or Google homepage.

In other words, you make the videos, you take the photos, and Umundo does the rest to publish them and distribute them on net-enabled mobile devices and web platforms anywhere.

With technology pioneered by Silicon Valley based Umundo, you will get "entertainment anywhere, anytime," your experience will never be the same again. Your mobile phone or internet-enabled handheld make your MySpace (or other social networking services) become the go-to channel. This technology promises to capture and distribute media and entertainment content across multiple platforms through one simple interface. And, again, there’s no software to download--just a plug-in interface that lets your cell phone or device connect to Umundo. The company leverages its know-how in content shifting technologies a new paradigm.

Umundo is a media and entertainment 2.0-technology company enabling easy distribution and delivery of personal video content and distribution of entertainment to online social networking groups and mobile devices. For you, this means you can bring out the creative genius in you and create your own channel, with automatic distribution of any content you want! And have your friends and peers subscribe to it and vis-à-vis.

The Marketplace
Umundo has a well-thought strategy as to why such a service is needed and the marketplace it will operate in. "We realized that there are several popular video sharing sites such as YouTube, Google video, and Yahoo video, which allow consumers to upload directly from a computer a personal video and share it with groups and communities,” says Parekh. “However none of them offer an attractive solution to distribute it. Our goal is simple. We want to fill that gap and become the leading enabler of entertainment distribution to the mobile devices and web platforms such as social networking platforms like MySpace.”

With about 2.5 billion mobile phones in use globally and predictions of SMS messaging garnering $67 billion by 2012 (as per Portio Research), it's easy to see the incredible potential for a company like Umundo and the revolutionary services it is offering for the mobile platform. Not to mention its vast potential for community and members to get onto the content sharing bandwagon!

The Umundo Difference
As industry data suggests, the business prospect of such a marketplace is already a money-making endeavor for many, and Umundo is salivating at its prospects.

"We're here to make money, and help others make money as well” Parekh admits. “We will have several models to make this business viable. The major chunk of revenue will be via advertising followed by distribution of private or labeled content.” To prove his point, Parekh points to discussions he’s already having with a leading record company exploring distribution of their video trailers to millions of potential customers on mobile devices and platforms on internet. Umundo has already been used by major music artists to hold video contests which have then been voted by fans subscribing to these videos. This will also set the stage for interest based communities.

Umundo hopes to generate revenue via advertisements at the time of content insertion and via a premium content route from major or exclusive content providers based on user community profile. "We have the ability to sell content via our distribution, and we hope to release new features and services in the next couple of months," says Parekh.

So what lies ahead? By the looks of this new venture, it seems that yet another revolution is on its way and could hit the blog-space soon. "Imagine what large visual content companies can do with such a technology,” enthuses Raj Narayan, a content manager and aggregator with media giants including America Online and MSN. “A company like Time-Warner can send high impact targeted information of all kinds, ranging from movie trailers to virtual test drives of cars to quick culinary lessons. And the beauty of it is that you can see it in audio-video format instead of boring old print."

Narayan's comments come close on the heels of what this industry is worth. Consider some of the projected industry data. Global mobile entertainment revenue will jump four times by 2008, and the mobile TV business will grow to $8 billion by 2008 from just $136 million in 2005. The digital music industry is already generating 50% of its revenues through mobile phone downloads, while consumers are already spending an average of $5-$10 a month subscribing to services Umundo expects to offer. Even just a slice of such a market is worth a lot! [Umundo service is currently free]

The Rapid Rise
Umundo was started two years ago when its team was working with RSS feeds, an area that was just evolving. The objective was to resolve a complex problem and help Internet users locate the content they require more easily through a syndication program based on keyword searches and meta-tagging.

With its rapid growth, the company is already tapping into star power to market its service. American Idol, Katharine McPhee has been using Umundo to distribute personal greetings to her fan club via her MySpace account. “The video message on the sad demise of Anna Nicole smith was viewed by over 100,000 people, and other messages have also been getting impressive viewership,” adds Prashant. In last month alone, there have been more than a million video clip downloads from Umundo server.

Of course, when the promoters began working with this technology, they were unaware their research could lead to a revolution of sorts; a revolution in the video sharing domain that could help transport content across the wireless space. Convergence was, of course, was the key.

The Umundo Edge
While Umundo has sized up the opportunity, it had to deal not only with its competitors, but with competing service providers as well. For instance, how does the company plan to deal with competing service providers from the BBC and CNN?

"CNN and the BBC can be both our customers/partners, as can other major similar Content Providers,” responds Vadim Zaliva, Umundo’s CTO. “Our technology enables easy and automated distribution of content on the channel of choice of the user. With our mobile client, this content can be easily made available on cell phones.”

What’s more, Umundo hopes to target a younger crowd that is naturally technology savvy and community oriented and would jump at the opportunity to share content across a wider group, much like the way photo-sharing and content sharing works via cyber space.

Also on the radar are families that can share audio and video files across continents and create social networking communities. There is a ready market of professionals and travelers as well as any segment looking for a communication tool to spread their messages to a target audience via the cell phone or a mobile device.

So what is all this leading to? Most definitely a global cell phone community! If one looks at the way Umundo's technology is being utilized, it is something that can give new meaning to thousands of social networking sites. As for the content and service providers themselves, Umundo promises a multi-billion-dollar revenue stream across the world.

Umundo will keep you on the leading edge of social networking. For instance, an Umundo user can subscribe to mobile podcasts that will automatically be received and synced with his or her Video iPod, including clips and photographs sent by friends from their mobile phones or portable devices.

In addition, consumers can utilize the personal content sharing capability offered by Umundo on several existing popular web sites.

Best of all, Umundo is a free service that doesn't require registration or subscription. Video clips and pictures from camera phones and mobile devices can be sent directly via multimedia messaging service (MMS) or via e-mail.

Umundo is designed to work directly with any mobile device through an easy, fast, and fun Web interface. Video clips and pictures can be published to and viewed on popular web properties such as MySpace, My Yahoo!, Google and iTunes. Umundo also provides a flash player for users to view automatically updated video clips.

"There are millions of mobile users in the world equipped with camera phones," notes Prashant Parekh, Founder and CEO of the company. "With the Umundo service, we enable mobile consumers to share their creativity instantaneously around the world, anytime anywhere.

"We have even included e-mail as an option, in addition to MMS, as more and more smart phones provide complete e-mail services,” Parekh continues. “E-mail will enable users to easily share content stored on their computers, whether generated by a mobile device or by any other video capture device.”

Create Your Own Channel:
This may be the best feature that Umundo has to offer. Create and manage your own channel in any area. And you can invite friends, family, and any social networking peers to subscribe to it, meaning your content is distributed automatically. “When people talk about Entertainment 2.0, this is the kind of technology they are really talking about, and consumers cannot wait to get it,” Parekh concludes.

How to use Umundo?
No Registration Required
Step 1: Capture the video and email or MMS it to video@umundo.com
Step 2: The data gets converted by Umundo.com to RSS feed.
Step 3: Your phone or your email becomes your channel ID
Step 4: Friends can go to www.umundo.com and type in your channel ID
Step 5: They view all video on Umundo site or subscribe it to a heterogeneous platform like MySpace.
Step 6: Subscribe and have fun!
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