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The Third Screen

I don't know if it's the mobile carriers' PR machines in action but the past week has seen a flurry of articles describing how 'Mobile TV' is just around the corner.  While many remain quite sceptical that this will ever take off, companies such as, among others, Texas Instruments (who recently developed the first digital TV chip for mobile phones), LG (who spent $9 billion to develop a Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) phone) and Qualcomm (who invested $800 million in its own developments) are hot on the trail of this next television frontier.

According to In-Stat, the number of US subscribers for mobile TV could jump from 273,000 in 2004 to 1.2 million in 2005 while revenues could grow to $1.9 billion by 2008.  We all know that these predictions are carried by some hot air but an additional survey of 1,009 people conducted in February showed that "Americans are far more excited about mobile TV than about any other data applications offered so far".

Overall it appears that the (blood sucking) media industry combined with the (blood thirsty) wireless industry are salivating (red) at the prospect of the untold riches that await them on what many pundits are calling the 'third screen' - TV on your mobile phone after the TV screen and PC screen.  Joking aside, considering that there are now more mobile phones than PC's, the industry may very well be right. 

According to Michael Stroud of the iHollywood Forum, "Studios like Sony, Fox, and Disney are pulling out the stops to supply video programming to the carriers. "It becomes hugely important for us this year," said Sony Pictures Digital Senior Vice President Michael Arrieta. According to Arrieta, the Sony unit wants to make made-for-mobile programming and featurettes, as well as repurpose Sony properties old and new—from classic films in recently acquired MGM Studios to SpiderMan 3."

One thing that I can say is be prepared for the ride of your life as literally hundreds (if not thousands) of companies vie for your attention in this space over the coming years - the choices available to consumers will be truly mind boggling.  Do you want to stream movies from your home PC to your mobile phone?  There's a company working on that.  Do you want to stream your TiVo recordings to your mobile phone?  Yep, that's just around the corner too among many, many others.  You'll also have to decide whether you want to get mobile TV from your wireless carrier, your cable operator or your satellite provider or simply get free Digital Video Broadcasts (DVB).  There'll be so much choice to choose from, so many new acronyms to learn and decisions to make that you'll hardly have the time to watch any TV at all!

Among one of the sad things for the early-adopter Treonauts that we all are is that aside from MobiTV which in the past has hinted that it will offer PalmOS support for its service there is not a single mobile TV service in development that is targeting the Treo.  However, palmOne's CEO, Todd Bradley, stated recently at an analyst conference that "video, video messaging, streaming media... these are things that we're working closely with our network partners".  I seriously hope that companies working in this area will soon come to realize that a user base of 3 million Treonauts (projected by the end of 2005) is a pretty good and unexploited market opportunity.  I certainly would like to soon see some official partnerships emerge between palmOne/PalmSource and content/service providers.

There's little doubt that either way we'll be hearing a LOT more about mobile TV over the coming year.  At the same time, I hope that the companies involved won't forget to answer the all important question: "Is there anything good to watch?".

Read more about mobile TV:
LG unveils world's first broadband multimedia phone at Ame Info
Full length movie on 3G handsets at Cellular-News
Start-up beams TV to your hand at News.com
For cell phones, it's TV to the rescue at News.com
Stay tuned for Verizon Wireless TV at News.com
TV May Soon Beam From Cell Phone Screens at LATimes.com
Here Comes the TV Phone at AlwaysOn

Treonauts can't wait to lead the mobile TV revolution... Please consider making a PayPal contribution to help Treonauts.  Thanks!

Posted by Andrew on January 13, 2005 at 05:07 PM

Treo Software | Television

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by Iceman | Jan 13, 2005 9:23:23 PM

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't see it. Remember how herky-jerky the Victoria's Secret halftime show was? No thanks. I have a broadband internet connection at home, and I never watch video on it. EV-DO will not be faster than my home ISP. Also, does anybody want to watch an NFL game on a 2.8 inch screen? Not me!

Music, yesss. I can't wait for my next phone (not on the market yet), so I can get me some internet radio. Frankly, I am a little worried that this too will be herky-jerky, but a bigger buffer ought to solve this one.
DVD movies on an SD card, yesss. I will rip my own, thank you very much. I don't buy movies on demand from my cable company, why would I buy them from my phone company?

Bottom line: There are a lot of reasons why I want a 3G phone/pda. Streaming video is a source of annoyance (I find pop-up commercials annoying, don't you?) (CNET is no longer on my list of favorites). Streaming video is NOT a reason to buy a 3G phone.

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