Amps Up Cell Phone Video


Happen to catch a wild car chase or a clip of your friend wiping out on his skateboard, using the camera on your cell phone? Send in the video, and the next month’s bill will be torn up.

That’s the latest motivation for Americans of all stripes to be video bloggers. It’s a marketing ploy from new wireless entertainment company Amp’d Mobile and Web site Getting users to become mini-movie producers, they hope, will drive sales of Amp’d mobile phones, while boosting video content for and visitorship for’s site.

“We’re trying to inspire people to use their mobile handsets as a content creation tool,” said CEO Keith Richman.

Amp’d and — which is changing its name this week from — are looking to take advantage of the increasing number of consumers shooting short video clips with mobile phones and inexpensive digital camcorders. They’re encouraging men 18 to 35 to share the videos with friends equipped with Amp’d Mobile phones, which are expected to hit the market in the next few weeks. They will also be found online, through

Richman, whose Web site draws 600,000 unique visitors daily — generating more traffic than the online operations of MTV: Music Television, Comedy Central and Playboy — likens the success his company has had in hosting funny videos submitted by users to the way that eBay Inc. empowered individuals to make a business of selling products via the Internet in the late 1990s.

“We think of ourselves as similar to that. We’re allowing these content creators to have a distribution method they’ve never had before,” said Richman, 32, a co-founder of online payment company Billpoint, which eBay acquired in 1999 for $125 million in stock. has 15 employees, most sifting through videos submitted by users.

The Los Angeles-based firm has no marketing or ad-sales staff. The company’s only marketing money this year went to 500 T-shirts and 30,000 postcards sent to colleges to promote its name change. Richman says relies almost entirely on “viral marketing” — Web surfers e-mailing friends links to funny videos.

Bigger media companies are also turning to viral marketing to promote the creation of video clips on the Web. America Online executive vice president Kevin Conroy said the company’s new In2TV service will contain forms Web surfers can use to send videos to friends via e-mail or instant messages.

And Google Video is offering to host an unlimited amount of videos for free for both individual producers and big media companies.

While Google and AOL are beginning to offer long-form content on the Web, most of the videos produced for mobile phones run only a minute or two in length.

Amp’d Mobile is leasing the EV-DO network from Verizon Wireless in order to offer its service. EV-DO offers average Internet download speeds of 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps, and can hit speeds of up to 2 Mbps.

Amp’d plans to charge $2.99 monthly for unlimited access to videos, Richman said. Subscribers who upload videos that are used by get a free month of service, he added. was the 326th most popular site on the Web during the last three months, according to That tops the popularity of Web sites owned by MTV (410), Playboy (817), Comedy Central (2,093), Spike TV (21,317), USA Network (17,974) and Home Box Office (1,331).