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Can Apple Save Mobile TV?

Sarah Thomas
5/26/2011

8:00 AM -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is responsible for the boom in mobile video, or at least 80 percent of it, according to a FreeWheel study released this week. Consumers with iPhones, iPads and iPods are driving a heap of mobile video traffic, and Apple could have the same catalyzing effect on mobile TV next.



As The Diffusion Group (TDG) illustrated at TIA last week, mobile TV consistently ranks last in consumer surveys on valuable mobile services. Consumers want access to their video on all three screens, but they don't care about watching TV -- yet. (See The 10 Over-the-Top Video Commandments .)

This is something that Apple, and the iPad specifically, could start to change as well. Even with its relatively low market penetration, the iPad already accounts for 20 percent of mobile videos viewed, FreeWheel says. It's the best mobile platform for video, and it's not too shabby for TV viewing either.

Cable operators, TV networks and OTT providers are starting to realize that. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) plans to add streaming to the iPad this year, something Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is experimenting with too, and live TV is already MobiTV Inc. 's strongest suit.

With great devices like the iPad and many comparable tablets planned, coupled with the support of content providers, cable operators and OTT players, mobile TV has more of a shot at taking off than it ever has before. If the price is right (and that's key), TV could be the next mobile video.

Apple is the one to thank for that.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
12/5/2012 | 5:04:10 PM
re: Can Apple Save Mobile TV?


Live events do really well for MobiTV, especially for international events. When you want to watch something in a different time zone, mobile is often your best option. I don't know that consumers will ever prefer a tablet for TV viewing, but I do think it's a nice backup when you're commuting or on the go.

sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
12/5/2012 | 5:04:09 PM
re: Can Apple Save Mobile TV?


I think I'd use it a lot as well, but mainly for watching TV on-demand (so does that count as video or TV, or both??)


You should post pictures of your living room someday. I imagine it to be full of devices and STBs and crazy cable stuff...right?

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
12/5/2012 | 5:04:09 PM
re: Can Apple Save Mobile TV?


I use my ipad for video alot when i'm on the road... either something downloaded for the plane ride or using MLB.tv or Sling to catch up on my woeful Rockies when I'm not home. But I'm noticing that we, as a household , are using tablets in the house for video viewing more and more... sort of like curling up and watching TV like you might do with a  book.  But it's certainly not taking up the bulk of the house's TV viewing... yet. JB

Hassene Akkeri
Hassene Akkeri
12/5/2012 | 5:03:56 PM
re: Can Apple Save Mobile TV?


In february 2011, Tellabs had released a very interesting report where it predicts the end of profit and "death clock" for mobile network operators within 2 years.


In fact, the unpredicted growth of mobile data, the local competition and the ever decreasing ARPU are squizzing the usual business model approaches of the MNOs. The response of some of them is to keep adding dumb capacity on the whole network chain (radio, access and core).


This reaction would lead many of them to disaster if they don't consider immediate rethinking of their network and business model strategy. Network cannot continue being seen as the routine stuff nor just the facility to provide service and get money. Instead, it should be considered as a critical factor of the business equation. A technical strategic mistake can lead to total failure.


Actually, there is no unique pattern of the MNOs around the world. But, in general, most of them are running forward to 3G/HSPA/LTE to find different areas to readjust the ever decreasing ARPU figure through innovative services.


Yet, besides the big expenditure behind the license purchase and the infrastructure building, this evolution is based on "feeding the bandwidth beast" as a key driving value. But for what utilization?


Mobile video will exceed 50% of the total mobile data utilization in 2011 (Cisco's Visual Networking Index). And most of it is through Internet's Youtube, Facebook, etc. So, would MNOs continue selling rated packages for Internet access while playing a rough competition with fixed-line? This seems to be leading to Tellabs' prediction.


Instead, they should play on high-value paid content. And here, Mobile TV can play a serious role if its business model well manages every actor's profit.


But would this be enough? We start hearing buzzes about operators who are thinking seriously to charge Google, Facebook and other websites for getting indirect advantage of their networks; which seems logical but sounds like trying to "grab a lion from his tail". This shows how far MNOs are willing to go to rethink their profitability.


Mobile TV and video are just small parts of the whole evolution picture. The others are: mobile cloud computing (next boom?), mobile gaming, femto/pico/pocket cells and cloud-based RAN (sending the ball back to fixed-line communications).


Apple, access device trends and MNOs starving for business model redefinition would probably save Mobile TV. But for whom?


Would the current pattern of the "Mobile Network Operator" persist as it is. This is questionable and I think it will be subject to a transformation, even more radical than what the incumbent Telcos faced.

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