The launch of 3G may be a boon for several businesses. But for video rental shops that thrived over the past decade, high-speed mobile connectivity brings nothing but death. Instead of having to walk to rental shops, video lovers will now be able to rent movies and watch them via apps on their smartphones anywhere on the go.
Watchever is one such app that plans to deliver movie lovers quick access to films. The app had a soft launch in August 2012 and acts like a mobile video rental shop that also includes concerts and live TV on the go _ provided the user is connected to the internet.
Chatchai Tangchittrong, founder of Dreambase Interactive Co, a digital marketing consultancy that developed Watchever, said the movies come in over 10 categories including family, horror and romance.
``Since we are still in the test run period, content currently comprises 50 Korean movies, TV series & K-Pop concerts,'' he said.
Hollywood movies are also available, and negotiations are ongoing with Thai movie producers such as GHT whose movies are expected to feature on the app by the end of the year.
3G will spur the growth of mobile apps that use a lot of video content, says Mr Chatchai.
Trailers are available to help consumers decide before buying.
Movie downloads can be in the form of A La Carte rentals or monthly membership. A La Carte rentals cost 15 baht per movie and can be kept on the phone for five to seven days.
A one-month Unlimited Korean Package is also available for 49 baht.
Users can also track their viewing history and share viewing activities on social networks such as Facebook.
Watchever has had 40,000 downloads on Android, with around 30,000 active users. After the app launches on the iPhone in September, the number of users is expected to reach 200,000 per month by the end of 2012.
By the end of 2013, the number of users is projected to reach 600,000 per month.
After investing 2 million baht on the app, Dreambase hopes to break even in 2013, Mr Chatchai said.
The app works on both 3G and WiFi and will automatically detect the speed of the available network and also determine the quality of the clip accordingly. HD viewing is available on Wifi connections.
Watching the clips on normal mobile internet coverage may yield varying rates of clarity depending on the speed of the connection.
3G will enhance the speed of all downloads and the quality of the video clips, said Mr Chatchai, adding that a network should spur the growth of mobile apps that use a lot of video content.
3G will boost the confidence of service providers as well as app users, he said.
The service provider can be assured the app will work, allowing people to really view live channels and clips they download. App users can be assured the internet coverage is fast enough for the app to work.
Social commerce is mushrooming in Thailand, said Mr Chatchai. Even without 3G people are selling things online, via Facebook for instance.
He suggested app developers use marketing as a guide to development, not just technology. User interface is key to determining the popularity of the app, he said.
``Many engineers are great at coding but in the end no one downloads their app because the interface is simply not attractive enough and too difficult to use,'' he said.
Watchever is limited to those who have a registered DTAC mobile number, but is not restricted to DTAC sim card carriers. An AIS user can also use the app as long as they have a DTAC mobile number registered.
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- Writer: Soonya Vanichkorn