Friday, February 03, 2006

JupiterResearch: Mobile TV: hype or reality?

Thomas Husson takes a look at Mobile TV at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs. Beyond the current 3G efforts, which he views as "a customer acqusition tool rather than a revenue stream," Husson thinks the main topi is which standard will will win out: DVB-H, MediaFlo, DMB?

Husson points out that "3G networks are not economically designed to support mass-market broadcasting, operators will have no choice but to switch to a dedicated broadcast technology." He writes that "because mobile TV combines two of the most successful consumer products, most people tend to assume it is necessary a mass market service. Is that so obvious?" Here are his thoughts:

  • mobile TV is a nascent market, built by mobile operators to sell 3G
  • adoption rate is so far extremly dependent on the 3G installed base
  • the current time spent watching TV (2 minutes / session) is nothing but a show-off service. Look I have live TV on my mobile!
  • Japan and Korea are not that advanced market as far as mobile TV is concerned. Yes, S-DMB is available since June 2005 but it has only reached 300,000 subscribers in 6 months. Yes, T-DMB is available since December 2005, but it is offered for free and consequently mobile operators are not really backing the project due to the lack of a sustainable business model.
  • when it will reach critical mass, 3G will not be the ideal solution if many customers want to watch the same live content simultaneously.
  • mobile operators have invested billions in 3G. Do you think they will so easily say to their shareholders: let's build a new network from scratch? My take is that MBMS is the natural next step since it allows carriers to use their existing infrastructure and that the spectrum is available.
Husson then says:
There is no rush to decide which technology to use. Anyway, it is just another standard war. As always, technology is not really the issue. The real question is about the business model. Which technology is likely to generate volumes and consequently economies of scale on a worldwide basis?