Coming soon to a cell phone near you

At first, I thought, "They're crazy."

Then I thought, "Yeah, crazy like a mongoose."

(I get tired of clichés.)

Sony Pictures Television just announced yesterday that it's going to be the first Hollywood studio to offer full-length movies by cell phone, the Associated Press is reporting. It won't be movies on demand; they'll play in a loop, interspersed with commercials.

Starting in May, Sony will offer a slew of popular films like Ghostbusters, Karate Kid and Roxanne--you know, starring Steve Martin. Boy, that's a great one. I always crack up when Martin's in the bar, and he does all of those nose jokes at once, and...--Er, never mind, I digress. If you're thinking, "Well, I've seen those movies, um, a hundred times," that is the point. Sony seems to recognize that nobody's likely to sit and watch an entire movie on a two-inch screen. China's news service, Xinhuanet, has an article about the new service and quotes Eric Berger, vice president of mobile entertainment at Sony Pictures Television. "This isn't for people looking to view a movie for the first time," said Berger. "It's OK to miss the beginning."

Still, I had my doubts until I thought about all the times I've been stuck at the airport over the years, with three or four or eight hours to kill. While Sony's likely right that this is for people who like to channel surf and just want to watch a few of their favorite scenes from a movie and then move on, I'm sure it'll be a lifesaver for others. And for the rest of us, and that would include me, we can just sit at the airport and entertain ourselves with shadow puppet theater.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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