Friday, December 02, 2005

Qualcomm teams with Verizon

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Verizon Wireless is the first carrier to agree to offer Qualcomm's MediaFLO mobile TV service to its cell phone subscribers. MediaFLO, which is capable of broadcasting 20 live channels, is expected to launch next year, and Verizon plans to launch the "service late next year in about half of the markets where it provides cell phone service."

Michael King at Gartner commented that Verizon's existing Vcast "service has not generated much interest by cell phone users." He said, "It's been pretty disappointing for Verizon. You've got to wonder how much effort and time and dollars they're really going to put into yet another video product. But, to be fair, I doubt it's going to cost them much," since Qualcomm "is paying for the infrastructure needed to launch MediaFLO.

King added, "This is all predicated on the assumption that consumers want video on their handsets. That's still a big question mark in my mind. It's a gamble."

Obviously, a lot of big questions loom whether mobile TV, and especially Qualcomm's MediaFLO service will resonate with consumers. For carriers, they don't have to shell out for the costly infrastructure and it requires customers to upgrade their handsets, but will there be enough compelling content and reasons to drive consumers to want their Mobile TV?