A few notable items are emerging from this week’s CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment conference. I personally didn’t attend because of the focus on infrastructure, entertainment and enterprise (fleet management, medical, etc.).
But there is some overlap with mobile search and local media. Specifically two announcements today deal with mobile TV delivery:
1. Qualcomm’s FLO TV announced what it’s calling a Personalized Television. It will play live and on-demand programming via FlO TV service on a 3.5-inch touchscreen (see image below). It will have five hours of active viewing and 300 hours of standby time. It will be available for the holidays for about $250 plus baseline $8.99 per month.
2. Verizon’s V-Cast announced an expanded library of on-demand video content, which now totals 140 television series (full episodes) from broadcast and cable networks, and 50 more to launch by year-end. Live events are also growing in number (100 by year-end), including NHL playoffs and NCAA football.
These are both streaming video services, which is the current state of the art. As we’ve argued there are lots of advantages to moving beyond streaming to broadcasting television to mobile devices. Not without challenges though (recap here).
Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether streaming video services can scale — at least how they are packaged and priced today. V-Cast and Qualcomm are two of the leaders in the space (in terms of usage) and they both employ subscription models with some ad support.
But it’s yet to be proved that watching long-form video content on the go has the inelasticity to justify additional monthly fees for most mobile users. And in Qualcomm’s case, is the quality of the experience good enough to justify not only additional cost, but also lugging around an additional device?
The personal TV is in fact the first shift from FLO TV’s longstanding model of partnering with carriers and handset manufacturers. But the additional device begs the question of whether the same (or better) format could be accomplished by partnering with devices that people are already carrying — like netbooks.
It’s a classic argument of specialized devices versus those that do everything, but not as well. The market hasn’t born a definitive answer quite yet.