Video services

What Is Mobile TV?

1:10 PM -- Every major service provider can serve up TV on a mobile phone. For a fee, you can watch some old shows, some CNN, some Weather Channel, right from the comfort of wherever you are. It's what people want.

The problem? No one that I know of is creating truly mobile content. If they are, maybe I'll meet them at CTIA in 10 days.

I'm calling truly mobile content a genre of programming, built for mobile devices, that has real relevance to your current location. It's place sensitive, if you need a marketing word for it.

Truly mobile content is not Seinfeld on a mobile device. It is video content filmed with more close-ups, produced to play on tiny screens, with slower refresh rates. It is served up when and where you need it, and, best of all, there's no telling where the money will come from to fund such an effort.

The world of truly mobile content is dangerous territory, for sure, but it can't be any more of a Hail Mary than all the attention that's been heaped on IPTV's mythical interactive programming potential.

There are a lot of nearly truly mobile content, but nothing that takes into account all the characteristics I've noted above. Some examples include:

  • TurnHere makes great Internet videos about cultural hotspots. In reality, they're usually scary, run-down, horribly overrated neighborhoods like Deep Ellum in Dallas. Great stuff, but it's not mobile.
  • Walki-Talki provides self-guided audio tours. Cool, but it's not on-demand based on my location.
  • Kyte has lots of user-generated content about lots of locations, events, and restaurants. But the content is user-generated. So it remains a great mechanism for sharing your experiences, but not a sure thing for getting quality content on-demand that's relevant to your location and interests.
  • Nearly the same story with Google's Dodgeball, and other mobile social efforts like (deep breath) Dopplr, Rummble, Socialight, Whrrl, and Zyb. They're all about meeting friends at the mall and such. Nothing specific to a truly mobile video experience.
So the search for truly mobile video will take me to as many booths as I can reach at CTIA. Drop me a line if I should stop by yours.

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading

Michael Poole 12/5/2012 | 3:45:17 PM
re: What Is Mobile TV? Interestingly, over here they're all sitting on the trains happily watching the ordinary telly on their phones. Mind you, that's probably the only time they get to watch it anyway. By the time they get home, there may just be time to grab a bite and get to sleep. Long commutes? Yes, quite long, but long hours is a bigger problem.

Different societies, different solutions.


DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:45:16 PM
re: What Is Mobile TV? great point. there's definitely a built-in audience on commuter trains around the world.

the publishing industry over here realized this with "commuter papers" -- broadsheet tabloids (The NYPost, Quick in DFW, the old SF Examiner) that read more like tabloids than the NYTimes. And were easier to fold.

so where does that leave mobile tv? seems someone somewhere would be thinking of a commuter TV service that provides relevant news and entertainment -- something to soothe the average jobber on the haul from shimbashi to yokohama, or whatever.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 3:45:03 PM
re: What Is Mobile TV? Another thing to think about when developing apps/content for the mobile context is power consumption.

Any streaming application over a 3G network that lasts longer than 5-10 minutes uses too much battery to be worth it. Those Mobile TV viewers in Japan must be using a broadcast network.

I get "charge anxiety"GǪ. E.g. better stop listening to internet radio in case my battery goes flat before I get home.
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