TelcoTV 2010: Future of TV Is Tablets, Moto Says

LAS VEGAS -- TelcoTV 2010 -- Pay-TV providers have been working on interactive TV for years, but it's never taken off. That's because widgets don't belong on the TV; they belong on the best-suited companion device: tablets.

That's the somewhat contrarian view Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) corporate VP and GM Alan Lefkof expressed during his keynote address here Wednesday. He noted that over 50 percent of iPad owners use them while watching TV, so the best personalization is that which is timed and simultaneously available over WiFi or 3G to their tablet of choice. (See Startup Builds TV Widgets for NSN.)

From an operator's point of view, this paradigm, which he said will be one of the hottest topics in the next few years, doesn’t require them to uplift and change everything in their delivery system.

"If I were in your shoes as a service provider, you really want to get to the point where you can rapidly evolve your services, but think about adding simple add-on services like we're talking about with personalization," he said.

Motorola has reportedly been working on an Android tablet for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) that would tie closely with FiOS TV, and Lefkof confirmed that an Android tablet is coming (at which time he'll switch from his favorite tablet, the iPad).

Lekhof also talked up the merits of Verizon's newly launched Flex View, a service Moto's believed to be supporting. The whole idea is to differentiate the experience for different subscriber markets, he said, referencing new phones, like the Droid X, that come equipped with better aspect ratios and more pixels. (See TelcoTV 2010: Verizon Takes a Flex View of the Cloud.)

"The opportunity in the industry is to take content and not pound our chest and try to be the one with the biggest library of content, but the smartest library of content and break it down by passion demographics," Lekhof said. Those could be channels like gardening, golf, or fashion that operators could then stream to mobile devices. It could also be a way for them to make money by selling related merchandise, he said.

"You'll never catch up to Netflix; I wouldn’t try," Lekhof concluded. "But what you can do is start small, start focused, start segmented, and both add value and make some money from it."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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