Qualcomm's MediaFlo to Come to the iPhone

Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 06, 2010

On Jan. 6, Qualcomm announced that accessories maker mophie has built an antenna to catch Qualcomm MediaFlo TV’s programming into its cases for the iPhone and iPod touch. The move will allow Qualcomm to sell its TV service while bypassing wireless service providers, which haven’t been as successful as hoped in pushing the service thus far.

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless have long offered the MediaFlo service for select phones carrying Qualcomm’s antennas, but it’s not taken off as fast as many analysts hoped. Many people balk at paying a monthly fee for the service when they can get plenty of free programming online. And the market growth has been inhibited by the limited availability of MediaFlo-ready phones. The iPhone — one of the most popular smartphones in the world — had lacked the feature.

Now that an antenna is being built into a smart smartphone case, at least one of the barriers to MediaFlo’s adoption will come down. iPhone fans will no longer have to wait for Apple to built the antenna into the smartphone in order to receive MediaFlo broadcasts. They will still have to pay Qualcomm fees for using the service. But at least Qualcomm won’t have to share the revenues with the carriers.

Later on, mophie could make similar cases available for other devices, such as BlackBerry and Android-based phones, I suspect. Qualcomm is sure to benefit from no longer having to depend on carriers for so much of its MediaFlo traction and revenues.

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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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