Nearly five years ago, we predicted that Qualcomm was wasting a ton of money
with its MediaFlo effort. The company had bought up a bunch of spectrum to create a special broadcast TV
offering for mobile phones. It didn't take a genius to predict why that wouldn't make much sense. First of all, using spectrum for straight broadcast video ignores that content is increasingly multi-directional, interactive and on-demand. In an age where more and more people were using their DVRs to time shift, their iPods to place shift and mobile phones to communicate on the go, the idea of watching broadcast television on your mobile phone just seemed to be a solution stuck in a prediction from decades ago, rather than one that actually looked at what the technology allowed.
I have to admit that after writing a few negative pieces on MediaFlo, I did get a nasty email from someone at Qualcomm, who insisted that I didn't know what I was talking about, and the demand for such a broadcast TV system, just for mobile devices, was "off the charts." Apparently, it was off the charts in the wrong direction. After spending so much money, Qualcomm recently announced that it's shutting down the effort
(which is now called Flo TV). Next time, Qualcomm, if you're looking to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars, you can just give it to me, and I'll save you the trouble...