Mobile TV: A Traditional TV Rival?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 07, 2006

Ever since mobile TV debuted several years ago, people have been pointing out that it’s not up to par to traditional TV — not even close. The cell phone screen mobile TV is designed to be viewed on is small. Footage is jerky. There’s no way mobile TV can make a dent in cable/satellite TV viewing, this thinking went.

I think this thinking is changing. Mobile TV quality has improved drastically. I’d just trialed Sprint Nextel’s TV service, and the quality was excellent. The colors were vivid. The quality of the video was so much better than when I tried TV service half a year ago. In fact, telco execs I’ve talked to recently say that mobile TV viewers are increasingly consuming longer content. While, in the past, they would only watch 5-10 minutes of video at a time, now some of them are watching 30-minute episodes. That’s as long as we watch sitcoms on TV.

The small cell phone screen is not going to hamper mobile TV’s spread for much longer, either, I think. Recently, Bill Gates demoed a capability where you plug your cell phone into a large TV screen at an airport, or a cafe, or at home, or a train. The screen receives footage from the phone vs. cable or satellite. Knowing that Gates typically demoes functionalities that would come out in the next year or so, I would expect such large cell phone screens to start popping up soon.

The bottom line: Mobile TV could emerge as a real cable/satellite TV competitor.

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Reader Comments

Guigo

February 9, 2006 09:52 AM

well, it might be in near future, but for now i think the idea "phone plugged in TV" ain't gonna work, because people need simple solutions. hm, phone with bluetooth streaming to TV with bluetooth receiver?..

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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