Since 2008's Almost Over, Now Looking To 2009 As The Year Of Mobile TV

from the its-that-time-again dept

Each of the last, oh, 4 or 5 years has been heralded as "the year of mobile TV," despite plenty of questions over the real demand for a paid recreation of old-school broadcast television, a medium that's falling out of favor as people look to DVRs and on-demand services. It's already looking like 2009 won't be any different, as Qualcomm is talking up the expansion plans for its MediaFLO network, saying it will be available in an additional 46 markets by the end of next year. The implication is that by having 108 active markets instead of 62, it's primed to take off. But if the people in those 46 extra markets have roughly the same demand for the service as those in the existing markets, it's hard to see a huge bump in growth. Indeed, as the original story notes, "MediaFLO hasn't taken off as quickly as [Qualcomm] had hoped, and it's unclear how many users the service has through its partnerships with Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

It adds, however, that among its user base, live events like the US Open golf tournament cause big spike in viewer numbers (again, though, that's viewers -- not subscribers). This is one area where mobile TV could hold some promise, as live events like sports or breaking news still call for a traditional broadcast model. But the subscription-based model remains a big barrier, particularly as consumers look to reign in their spending. There are lots of mobile services billed as being "just $5 or $10 a month," but given tighter household purse strings, that "just $5" is going to hold back the growth of many of them.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    dssstrkl, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:24pm

    Mobile TV's already dead

    No one cares about mobile TV. Even the people who like to demonstrate it to show how superior their WinMo brick is have to admit that they never actually use it. Sorry, but I'd rather watch that high-def show that I got off the Pirate Bay (or iTunes. Sometimes.) The net based TV by already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    MJ, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    The Year Of Mobile TV? I thought it was going to be the year of linux on the desktop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Dave, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:50am

    Mobile TV is alive

    I know lots of people who download shows using bittorrent and put them on their mobile player/cell/what have you. It's a great way to share them with friends.

    Now if you mean streaming, that's another story, nobody wants to pay $XX dollars a month to watch half a TV show on their mobile while waiting for a bus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Video, Yes. TV, no,.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Video, Yes. TV, no.

    You are all correct. Broadcast TV, other than live events, may someday be widely used, but only at a price near free. As comment #3 said, who wants to pay for an impersonal, poorly timed service on a tiny screen, when they already pay to get it at home, and when broadcast TV is free over the air anyway?

    But the concept of mobile video, that is people watching moving pictures on their phones, is one that is only going to grow and grow. I have no doubt that in a few years, masses of people will be watching video content on their phones. The thing is, it will not be the "billed content" that the carriers and Qualcomm are hoping to sell. It will be video sideloaded (legal or pirate) to the device, or video streamed from their PVR (or cloud PVR), or some form of free online video like Youtube.

    That's a lot of video, and it will contribute to rising unlimited data plan sales for carriers. They should be happy with that.

    BTW, to comment #1, I use my WinMo "brick" to watch video a fair bit. It's Youtube content, which is short-form and often fits into a conversation, and it's off of my Tivo through Slingbox. The Tivo content is stuff I would watch anyway, so I watch it while I'm waiting at the dentist office, then pause, then I pick it up where I left off on my home TV. Very personal, very efficient, basically free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Tom, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 7:11am

    I don't know what these guys are smoking but I sure as heck want some. I don't know about you guys but I bought a large TV to enjoy TV, I don't want to watch TV on a small screen.

    Now if they paired it with the ability to watch it on your notebook PC on the go, then maybe it'll work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    chris (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    doesn't work in the US

    asia and europe are great markets for this kind of thing since there is so much public transportation.

    in the US it's illegal to even think about touching a mobile phone when you are in a car, so mobile TV in the US is DOA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Cross, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 2:39pm

    Yesterday I sat through over an hour of wait time for my flat tire to be repaired. Thankfully, and thanks to skyfire on my Q, I was able to watch Family Guy on hulu So I don't see this tv service stuff working out when I can just go and get content where it is, when I want it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    chris (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 3:43pm


    Yesterday I sat through over an hour of wait time for my flat tire to be repaired. Thankfully, and thanks to skyfire on my Q, I was able to watch Family Guy on hulu

    i hope you were a safe distance from the car while operating your mobile vehicular homicide device.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Nobody, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 4:21pm

    I'm no expert, but couldn't people make updated versions of those old, portable TV's? Wouldn't they be a lot handier in picking up air channels after the digital switch?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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