Mobile Video Capture Soars; Now Brace Yourself for Views and Uploads

Thirty-four percent of U.S. cell phone users surveyed in May said they use their phone for recording video, according to a study released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That’s up from 19 percent the year before, and while uploading video and watching it online may be less common today, that’s about to change. After all, what’s the point of capturing something if not to share it?

The shift, however, comes with hefty implications: a huge growth in mobile data traffic and the all-but-certain death of flat-rate mobile broadband pricing, as carriers follow AT&T’s lead (s T) in pricing mobile broadband.

This year, for the first time, Pew asked mobile users about emerging Internet activities like sending photos and videos, posting and watching them online. Note these categories for the next usage growth spurt. Today, 54 percent of U.S. cellphone owners have used their mobile device to send someone a photo or video, 20 percent to watch a video, and 15 percent to post a photo or video online.

Those are significant numbers; as a reference, the total portion of U.S. cell phone owners who use Internet, email *or* instant messaging is 40 percent. More report sending photos and videos from their phones than going online. And of course, this is more bad news for Cisco’s Flip (s CSCO), with its soon-to-be-outdated focus on single-function video cameras.

For signs that mobile video consumption is already climbing, look no further than YouTube (s GOOG), which announced today it has crossed 100 million mobile video plays per day. This makes its mobile video volume about the same as its web video volume at the time it was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in 2006. YouTube’s mobile video views grew 160 percent in 2009. And YouTube has just majorly revved its mobile site for optimized playback and better browsing. There’s no doubt that will only add to usage.

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