Is the future of vertical video here?

Mobile phones have shifted the demand from the horizontal video format to vertical. But what has prompted people to change their preference? Matthew David examines these trends.

For a hundred years, video has been presented in horizontal format. We even have a name for it: letterboxing. The Web came along and our video preferences did not change.

Then, along came mobile.

There is a big, obvious difference between a smartphone and a laptop: The screen is vertical. At first, all seemed fine because folks still flipped their phone from portrait to landscape to watch movies. Over the past year, however, we have seen that trend change.

This video format for mobile trend is being driven by apps that are compelling to use in a nontraditional way. The incumbent is Apple with FaceTime. Friends, family and co-workers are using FaceTime to video conference all around the world. The quality of the video is amazing, and, more importantly, using FaceTime is easy. The technology does not block the experience.

Two competing technologies, Periscope and Meerkat, extend the FaceTime experience from a one-to-one conversation to a live broadcast experience. With Periscope and Meerkat, individuals can now live broadcast what they are doing. Give it a try at your next conference: Instead of limiting the keynote to attendees, broadcast it live over Periscope to a wider audience. The service is free and viewers can interact and ask questions.

Meeting tools such as Google Hangouts also work well with vertical video on a phone. Now a team split around the world can see each other.

The compelling common thread with all of these tools is that the technology does not get in the way of the experience. It is easier to use GoToMeeting on my phone than my laptop -- where I have to check which version of Java I have and ensure I have the latest software installed. For this reason, millions are using their phones as a means of broadcasting video, and phones are simply easier to hold vertically. Hence, a flood of the vertical video is taking over the Internet.

Expect the vertical video format to continue to grow as more people go online and more services adopt portrait video formats. As an example, Twitter recently added a video playback feature to its mobile apps -- and we can guess what format the video has to be in to play.

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