Mobile TV: To Be or Not to Be?


The Guardian carries an opinion piece today from Sarah Lelic of about the prospects for mobile TV. She points out that survey data from operator trials is positive, but that a higher level view of consumer behavior contradicts the rosy view of mobile TV's future.

If the mobile companies are to be believed, the technology that many have said will spell the end of staring out of the window while on a bus, is on the verge of being wholeheartedly embraced by the consumer.

The importance of this technology to the industry is underlined by the way in which rival mobile operators have been so quick to join forces, both to develop platforms and services, but also to survey consumers and gauge public opinion on such services.

However, she counterpoints with the following data:

…there is anecdotal evidence that UK consumers are still not convinced of the merits of basic 3G technology, let alone further technological developments. Recent research, commissioned by Netonomy, has found that 73% of those who own a 3G compatible phone do not use its next generation capability.

Compounding this, 80% of people questioned said they believed that mobile services were becoming too complicated. If these responses are a true reflection of consumer opinion it does not bode well for the mobile TV industry, certainly in the near future.

Too be fair, 3G services have largely lacked content and services that look much different than non-3G until lately, with the advent of streamed live media. Downloaded video snippets aren't the same as viewing live or longer run TV content, for example. And mobiles have become more complex, though some designers and operators are learning to calm down their interfaces and command menus. My opinion is that by the time mobile TV gets out into the market fully formed, operators and handset companies will have figured out how to surmount some of these barriers. Additionally, portable media overall has surged in evolution in the past year and the average mobile user is a bit more aware of and comfortable with the concept. After all, many own iPods, and portable video players are growing in penetration and ability.

| February 27th, 2006 | Posted in 3G, Analysis, Device Evolution, Mobile Technologies, New Applications |

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