Mobile TV was one of the topics that held a lot of interest in MWC08. Some of my clients i discussed Mobile TV with wanted to wait for MWC to check which direction the wind is blowing. The news seem to be that most of the handset manufacturers seem to be looking at it now.
According to this report in Forbes magazine:
Many Chinese can already catch analog television signals on some handheld devices. The Chinese government, however, intends to use the Olympics to showcase the next wave of digital mobile TV, based on standards developed in China.
Huaqi, a Beijing manufacturer of handheld devices, is planning to build inexpensive, user-friendly portable media players and navigation devices. Four different models, priced around $300 apiece, will debut in June, says Guo Hongzhi, Huaqi's general manager of resource management. Outfitted with 4.3-inch screens, they will also be able to play music and video and will eventually incorporate global positioning satellite data and wi-fi.
Some of the nuts-and-bolts technology, however, is coming from elsewhere. Alon Ironi runs Siano Mobile Silicon, an Israeli firm that makes the specialty TV receiver chips that receive signals encoded using the unique Chinese standards. Siano's chips can receive both satellite and terrestrial signals--an unusual combination that will eventually make the network more affordable, Ironi predicts. For now, that's hardly a concern: The Chinese government plans to subsidize the mobile digital TV service for the first year to whet Chinese users' enthusiasm for the technology.
The Olympics promise to be a picture-perfect showcase for China's digital mobile TV service. Work on digital TV has been going on for several years. Public trials in 35 cities are slated to begin in April. By the time of the highly anticipated Aug. 8 opening day of the games, China plans to be broadcasting digital mobile television to 65 cities throughout the country.
The magnitude of the Chinese mobile market, the largest in the world, with more than 540 million subscribers, means that the summertime experiment could turn into big business.
This would also be a boon for mobile TV around the world. Despite success in countries like Japan, Korea and Italy, which began broadcasting mobile digital TV as early as 2005, the technology has yet to take off worldwide.
There are many problems at present with adoption of Mobile TV. First is the high prices and poor quality:
There is a fast-growing army of ex-mobile TV users in the U.S. and Europe’s major mobile markets. Disgruntled by the high prices, and dissatisfied by the poor quality and reliability of the service, consumers are turning their back on the service in their droves. So much so, in fact, that the number of ex-mobile TV users now outnumber more than two to one mobile TV users in Germany, Spain, France and Italy.
This is the key finding of a survey conducted by M:Metrics, the results of which are published today. By comparing mobile TV usage patterns in January 2007 with those during November 2007 in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the U.S. — more than 34,000 mobile users were surveyed in total — M:Metrics found the size of the mobile TV audience had increased by 36 percent. The bad news for mobile operators, however, is that the number of former mobile TV users had grown by a whopping 68 percent.
The second most popular reason for mobile TV disillusionment among M:Metrics’ survey respondents was poor quality and reliability, cited by an average of around 25 percent of ex-mobile TV users across the countries surveyed (ranging from 22 percent in the U.S. up to 30 percent in the U.S.).
The others are more due to technological limitations which will be overcome with time:
Receiver chips must be energy-efficient to preserve battery life--an important consideration in any mobile device. At the same time, they must be sensitive enough to transform even weak TV signals into clear images and function in sheltered places, like garages, and at moderate speeds, such as on trains or in fast-moving cars.
And then the standards:
Clashing standards have slowed adoption. Like many cellular technologies, mobile TV standards differ by region, forming an alphabet soup of acronyms: wireless technology company Qualcomm's MediaFLO in the U.S., DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) in Europe, T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcast) in Korea, and ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial) in Japan and Brazil. The standards are largely incompatible.
And ofcourse the business models:
That fragmentation extends to business models. There are "free to air" services, which, like basic TV channels, can be picked up by any device with the right chip or receiver--no service provider necessary. Particularly popular in Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia, these channels generally offer the same programs a home TV would show for free. Then there's the paid model, predominant in the U.S., in which mobile carriers provide premium TV shows to subscribers for a fee.
According to Ericsson's Mobile TV Research Study:
Mobile TV use is set to surge due to strong consumer demand, with the service ranked as the number one application users want on their phone, according to a consumer behaviour study conducted by Ericsson and the #1 international news broadcaster, CNN.
The results show more than a third (34%) of respondents ranking TV as the most in-demand application and almost half (44%) of the respondents poised to adopt mobile TV in the next two years.
Key findings also revealed that photo and video messaging look to be set for wide-scale adoption as consumer pricing and functionality improves. 57% of respondents use photo technology to send and receive images on a monthly basis, making it the most popular activity. This trend is mirrored by popularity of CNN International's user-generated content service iReport, which launched in 2006. The service garnered 50,000 submissions, including mobile phone footage and images, from 189 countries worldwide in its first twelve months, driving the worldwide trend for 'citizen journalism' and giving audiences a deeper connection to network news.
According to the report, nearly one in four (24%) current mobile TV users watch daily with around half (52%) tuning in on a weekly basis. At 77%, news leads genre viewing patterns, followed by scheduled television at 48%.
And ABI Research's report:
mobile TV services expand over the next five years, ABI Research sees the total number of subscribers growing to 462 million, driven in large part by the expansion of 3G networks, and flat-rate plans for mobile video. The build-out of mobile video delivery networks and an increase in the amount of available content will also contribute to the market’s growth.
ABI Research sees the Asia-Pacific region as the overall leader in the adoption of mobile video services. The number of subscribers to mobile video services in Asia-Pacific will grow from 24 million in 2007 to more than 260 million by 2012. High levels of penetration will occur in both Japan and South Korea, each a leading market in mobile video services, while China and India will both contribute significantly to the overall total due to very large subscriber populations, even though the overall penetration of video services will remain much lower than in more technologically advanced countries.
“South Korea and Japan will continue to lead worldwide, while some countries in Western Europe will also continue to see strong growth,” notes Wolf. “North America will also see some strong uptake as more services become available in 2008 with the launch of AT&T’s MediaFLO service, the continued expansion of Verizon Wireless’ MediaFLO subscriber base, and the growth of on-demand mobile video services.”
Combining the design concept of Panasonic large-screen flat-panel TV ’VIERA’ and its high-quality picture technologies, the P905iTV is a sliding handset featuring "One-segment" mobile TV. Adopting frame conversion technology from 15 frames to 30 frames per second enables users to enjoy smooth, vivid and high quality "One-Segment" mobile TV together on a 3.5 inch Full Wide VGA large screen.
The handset employs Panasonic’s original high-resolution technologies, "Mobile PEAKS PROCESSORTM" and "Mobile Double Contrast AI" that achieves a high contrast ratio of 4000:1, enabling users to enjoy vivid and high resolution "One-Segment" mobile TV and motion pictures.