Monday, August 29, 2005

Mobile TV In Snack-sized Bytes

The Detroit News writes about mobile TV and the current efforts by the carriers to build out their high-speed networks and offer multimedia services. Currently Verizon is leading the pack with its $15 a month V Cast service. According to David Chamberlain at In-Stat, "It's just like looking at a small TV. I've seen a lot of early technology, but this really amazed me."

Chamberlain "estimates mobile TV subscribers in the U.S. will increase from 1.1 million by the end of this year to 30 million in 2010.
However, not all agree that cell phones are the best medium for watching TV.

Jeffrey Halpern at Sanford Bernstein recently wrote a research note that said, "Video on handheld devices has significant hurdles to overcome," including "billing challenges and the struggle to shrink TV broadcasts to fit on a tiny phone panel."

The article cites an In-Stat poll of 1,500 consumers in the beginning of the year that "revealed more interest in mobile TV than in other mobile data products, including gaming or even downloadable music. About 12 percent of those interviewed said they would buy mobile TV, though few were willing to pay above $12.50 per month."

Pricing will be critical as will the amount and type of content. TV viewing is a sedentary activity while cell phones are meant for on-the-go use - hence the term mobile handset. Programming will have to be tailored for this type of usage model. Several minute clips that are entertaining or informative would probably work well.

Chamberlain sums it up best. "I don't want a whole meal on my handset. I would rather have an information snack," he said.