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Cell phone video company draws Hollywood interest

PacketVideo, the company that hopes to bring video to the mobile phone, says it has attracted the interest of blue-chip Hollywood and online media companies.

PacketVideo, the company that hopes to bring video to the unlikely medium of the cell phone, says it has finally attracted the interest of a long list of blue-chip Hollywood and online media companies.

The company has built technology that allows video to be streamed to mobile phones' tiny screens, with hopes of turning handsets into a genuine entertainment medium for commuters stuck on the bus, vacationers in the back seat of a car, or anyone else with a few minutes to spare.

With today's phones--which connect to the network at about a quarter of the speed of a regular dial-up modem--this doesn't provide much of a draw. But the company is looking down the road to new generations of cell phones that will rival high-speed telephone or even cable modem services in download speeds.

To that end, they've been working to spark interest among the big-name media companies, hoping to have something to stream when the bandwidth is ready. Today, PacketVideo said they've succeeded in this regard, attracting the likes of Sony Pictures, Time Warner, Disney Online, Hollywood Records, Universal Pictures and others.

"Many people expected the TV to merge with data services on the set-top box," said Robert Tercek, president of PacketVideo's programming division. "Now it's clear that convergence will happen on many devices, including mobile devices."

This "convergence" is still in the very early stages, however. The companies have only agreed to a field test of the service. Even PacketVideo says the companies are working to "explore" the idea. Actual content provided over the networks is still some time away.

The closest in this regard may be AtomFilms, which has already dedicated a portion of its online short-film Web site to providing content geared for handheld devices like Palm Pilots or Microsoft's PocketPC. The company said it will also be making this content available for cell phones.

PacketVideo, which recently filed for its initial public stock offering, is attracting attention in the wireless carrier world, too. The software was one of the featured applications at an open house at AT&T Labs last week, demonstrating the possibilities of broadband wireless networks.