YouTube Mobile A Bust! (Getting 3GP/RTSP to work on WM5)

This is so cool… YouTube has found itself released from its Verizon contract and can now open up YouTube videos to the rest of the mobile world. Here’s what their new site at looks like on my Motorola Q:

YouTube Mobile Website

Here’s the problem: the videos are streamed using a rather archaic (these days) video format called 3GP. The 3GP format is still used for a lot of mobile phones due to its low file size and thus low bandwidth requirements. You would think that current-day high-end mobile phones such as those that run Windows Mobile Smartphone edition would support 3GP streaming. But they don’t. So, instead of watching a video, you get to watch an error message from Windows Media Player:

ALERT: An unknown error 0X80004005

Pretty cool, huh? Not so much. So today I set out to solve the problem. “There must be an answer out there somewhere,” I thought. And after several hours of research and trying third-party solutions, I’m sad to say that there doesn’t appear to be a solution. Plenty of people in various forums are asking the same question. Some are finding solutions that work for them, but none of them apply to the Motorola Q Smartphone.

A few things I have tried include The Core Pocket Media Player (TCPMP) which is a light 685KB install. It does support 3GP files, and it is easy to file associate them: Options > Settings > Select Page > File Associations > Check “MPEG4 files (MP4, MOV, 3GP, M4A, M4B, K3G, MQV)”. Here’s the problem with this solution:

Error: RTSP protocol not supported

Another “fun” error message. Seems TCPMP supports 3GP formatted video files, but not streaming of them from YouTube’s new mobile site.

My last attempt was based on another suggestion, using the HTC Streaming Media app which required downloading a ZIP file, copying the files to my \Windows folder on my Q, then installing the Resco registry editor to import a bunch of registry keys from a .reg file. After all that effort, yet another error emerges:

The address is not valid. Check the address and try again

I’d like to give up at this point, but I know there is a solution out there, somewhere.

I did learn that the 3GP format used is 176×144, bitrate ~34 kbps, video codec H.263, audio codec AMR-NB. YouTube is streaming these videos using Darwin Streaming Server v5.5.3 (Open Source) running on Linux. Geek out on that, will ya? Why they are using H.263 (3GP) formatted videos instead of the more current MPEG-4 format found on most PDA phones is beyond me. I guess there are still a lot more folks out there using old technologies? From what I have read, the video and audio quality of these YouTube Mobile videos is not that great… so why not go with better technologies?

I’m sure that this version of YouTube Mobile is just the start, and that they will begin to support other formats in addition to 3GP. Or, at the very least, third-party developers will bust a move and add support to their own applications

Side Notes:

  1. Someone added a great YouTube Mobile compatibililty list at Wikipedia, of which the Motorola Q is included in the “Not Working” column. Hopefully that will change soon!
  2. The specs on the upcoming Motorola Q9 Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone include “H.263” support, but then again the current model Motorola Q spec sheet says the same thing. I guess there’s more to it than that!

Stay tuned…

1 Reply to "YouTube Mobile A Bust! (Getting 3GP/RTSP to work on WM5)"

  • Tim
    Apr 1, 2009 (6:10 pm)

    Mpeg4 is just a container… It often uses h264 as well. It’s a standard for streaming video.

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