Friday, August 05, 2005

Will Customers Flow to Qualcomm's $800 Million FLO

Qualcomm's hometown paper, San Diego Union-Tribune (site registration required) writes a lengthy piece on the company's $800 million gamble to develop FLO technology as well as set up a nationwide MediaFLO network in the U.S. that will offer video and audio content to mobile phone users.

Jane Zweig of the Shosteck Group is one of the analyst asking whether customers will "want to do it, and, even more importantly, how much will they be willing to pay?"

Qualcomm is busy developing the technology and setting up the network for intorduction in 2006.

Gartner analyst Michael King remarked "I think that from a technology perspective, this stuff is very well thought out." He then added that "I'm not 100 percent convinced that people are going to consume mass quantities of (television) content on their cell phones. I'm somewhat optimistic that people will consume small amounts of content."

The article presents two hurdles Qualcomm is facing: rival technologies and getting programming.

Regarding the former, Albert Lin of American Technology Research commented, "There's going to be competition to MediaFLO, and that's one of the big risks. The U.S. risks once again getting into another big technology battle. DVB-H is almost certainly going to be one of the standards fighting MediaFLO."

About the latter, Lin speculated, "I think they're hoping they don't have to do anything really, that a Disney will look at it and say, 'This is a good conduit.' I think they're really hoping that they won't have to go out and buy content."