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Video will bloat e-mail systems

Here's a scary thought: In the next couple of years, e-mail systems may be clogged with attachments as big as 50MB to 200MB in size, says David Ferris, president and senior analyst at San Francisco-based Ferris Research.

Those attachments will be video clips generated by consumer devices like cell phones. Today, cameras like Sony's Cyber-shot can capture VGA (640 x 480) high frame rate (up to 30 frames per second) audio/video clips. At that rate, a video clip will consume 50MB of capacity in just 60 seconds.

This could spell trouble for e-mail systems, which already operate at close-to-maximum storage capacity. Administrators may have to impose limits on attachment types.

But restricting video attachments is problematic, Ferris says, because the video snaps may be used for legitimate business purposes. Imagine geographically distributed employees. Instead of using e-mail to describe a process, taking a two-minute video "may be the most efficient thing to do," he notes.

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