Mobile TV is everywhere, and yet, nowhere. Nobody uses it – because the handsets aren't good, the pricing is too high, and the coverage is not good enough. But Qualcomm's FloTV Personal TV aims to change all of that.
Yes, you have a point that we are willing to carry around dedicated devices. Perhaps enough people will carry a personal TV rather than a device that incorporates that capability.
However, the trend is towards carrying more converged devices. For example, we carry music players, but increasingly people are carrying devices that do more than just play music, such as the iPod touch and cellular phones for games, WiFi Internet browsing, etc.
Indeed, Apple and cellular phone manufacturers have seen that people want to use devices for more than one purpose and are catering to that desire.
Perhaps a solution is to turn a personal TV into more than a TV.
Another point: Music players and ebooks are very customizable. We pay for online music, rip CDs or steal music we want to listen to. We buy or download free public domain books we want to read, when we want to read them.
Today's mobile TV packages aren't sufficiently personalized. We can't select the TV programs we like and watch them when we want. You can't record FLO TV for viewing later.
You could watch specific sports programs on FLO TV, if FLO carries them and the schedule suits you. FLO carries Fox Mobile, but I don't know whether "House" is part of the line-up. If not, next year you'll probably be able to watch "House" on Hulu with a Flash 10.1-enabled cellular phone.
As for electronic books, which are the future of books, ebook readers will do more than just display text. Tomorrow's book will be multimedia with audio, video, Internet access, etc.
I'm not sure whether the future of ebook readers will be a Kindle-type device that is designed primarily for books with multimedia capabilities or whether it's an Apple Tablet type device that offers ebooks as one of many capabilities.
So let me ask you to consider this . . . so far, we have a personal music device, an iPod, let''s say. And we have a personal reading device, perhaps a Kindle. Why is it so far-fetched we would have a personal TV device? I'm not saying I like it. I mean, when you add all that up you've got . . . well, you've got a computer taken apart for its specialized functions that are optimized for the experience you're reaching for.
You don't really read books on a smart phone, although you CAN. You don't really listen to music on a smart phone (OK, you can thanks to Pandora, Slacker and the iPhone, but it's still not optimal because you're draining your battery or you can only hold so much). You don't really watch TV on your phone, although you can.
Somehow, Apple, Amazon and now Qualcomm have decided you need a purpose-built device, at least for now. For now, you make phone calls and maybe run Google Maps and some cute little apps that annoy and amuse your friends. But that ONE monster device that does it all? Years away. Hell even Apple is coming out with a TouchPad -- what, the iPhone isn't good enough? Nokia just unveiled its new thingy -- what, the $800 N97 isn't enough? Sheesh, I can get 3 NetBooks for that.
I just think we're on middle ground right now, and I will tell you that when I'm at a swim meet on Saturday afternoon and LSU is playing Florida (or whatever), I'd sure like to have a Personal FloTV. And if I could watch House on Wednesday night instead of Monday (or 8 days later b/c that's what Hulu wants to do to you), then I'll be pretty happy.
Now, if this economy would grow, I might be able to afford it.
700 MHz is FLO TV's dedicated spectrum. Qualcomm bought it for mobile TV, and that's what it's using.
If you'll watch Hulu next week on the N900, it won't be a very good experience, unless the OS is a newer version than mine that performs better. I have seen other videos on the N900, and they work better.
FYI: I was using the N900 via my Verizon FiOS router (802.11g), so Internet speed isn't a problem.
I expect FLO TV on a phone or a dedicated device will, in general, work better than Flash over most cellular phones. But most people will put up with a "good enough" experience if it's free to watch on Flash.
I'm waiting for Qualcomm to get back to me on what spectrum they are using, but I actually don't think it's the 700 MHz spectrum. I could be wrong, but I did ask them in passing and they said something about a dedicated spectrum they have. Either way, proof will be in the pudding on that.
But Hulu on wifi on a smart phone -- that's the killer app as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully Nokia will let me see that next week at Web 2. (Of course, if it's not very good, then that's a deal killer. Kind of like those little portable TVs back in the 90s that you had to hold just right to see a sprinkling of a football game during your kid's ballet class.)
FLO TV Personal Television will, I assume, broadcast signals the same as transmitted to cellular phones. That is, FLO uses Qualcomm's 700 MHz network of towers...as does Verizon and AT&T. It is not broadcast over cellular operators' existing 3G spectrum, but over Qualcomm's.
If you can't get FLO TV over Verizon or AT&T on your phone, you won't, I think, be able to get it on the dedicated device.
Verizon charges $15 for about a dozen channels. With Qualcomm offering some 20 channels with its dedicated device, obviously it's a better deal, assuming you like the channels. (I care nothing about sports, children's shows and MTV).
Speaking of deals, if you're paying $15 for Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV, you have to add taxes to that. But you'll have to add taxes (and perhaps other fees) to the FLO dedicated device, too. Yes, cellular operators tack on all sorts of fees, but those are independent of the TV service.
As for watching Hulu on a cellular phone via WiFi, I'm doing that now. On Monday I got a pre-release version of Nokia's N900 (Maemo 5 OS) with Flash 9.something. Although the experience is poor (it's beta software), it's a start, and I'm looking forward to the "gold" code.
I haven't watched lots of videos on the N900, but I've seen CNET TV, and the quality isn't bad.
I've watched Hulu on the Skyfire browser with Nokia and Windows Mobile phones, but not an optimal experience.
Next year Adobe will be offering Flash 10.1 on phones -- real Flash that can play Hulu (unless Hulu wants to/is able to block it in some way) as well as other Flash videos on Web sites.
Will the FLO TV Personal Television be better than mobile TV over Verizon and AT&T? Maybe, but probably not enough to make a difference when watching it on the higher end phones.
I agree that this device will fail (using your word) "eventually." OK, I took that word out of context, but what you are saying is that eventually this type of service will be available some time in the future. Eventually. When the devices can support it. When the networks can support it. I have had 3G phones for years, with TV service and I cannot watch it because the experience isn't optimized in any way and the price is out of control.
Doing this vblog, I had (still have) no idea what Q'comm's pricing was going to be, but at least you know what you're getting going in, rather than these crazy hidden services the carriers offer (with a million caveats).
IF I want personal TV, this is the device I'm going to buy for the next 2 - 3 years (because that's how long I think it will take to get anything of this quality on 4G handsets; Wifi -- maybe that's a different story . . . do you think we'll see viable Hulu on a mobile device over WiFi?).
Sure it costs money.
Hopefully they'll let me try it out and see how good it really is, and see what the programming offerings are.
I enjoyed your video about Qualcomm's new mobile TV device, but as I just wrote in my IE mobile blog, it's going to fail. I've been watching mobile TV since it was offered in the U.S. at least four years ago.
I believe in the concept, but:
1. The FLO TV Personal Television hardware is much too expensive.
2. The cheapest subscription requires a three-year commitment -- insane. A one-year subscription will be available (price not announced) that probably will be closer to the cost of FLO TV on a phone.
3. Except for harried parents with disposable incomes, few people will want to carry a TV-only device. See many people carrying portable LCD TVs, which have been available for a long time?
4. The selection of FLO TV programs is okay, but it's not the same as on regular broadcast/cable TV, and the program times are often different.
5. The quality is the best of any mobile TV in the U.S., but it's still not very good on large screens. Cellular phones are getting larger, higher resolution screens. I just watched FLO TV on a new Verizon phone (I'll post a video about that), and the quality of FLO, not the screen, is an issue.
Eventually, streaming mobile TV will succeed as part of the mix of mobile video in general that's live and archived on cellular phones. But the Qualcomm device as priced and configured will fail.
Netflix seemed to be a threat to all of TV, but with the current quarterly earnings report, it sure doesn't look as if that's true now. Netflix really proves that even Internet viewing of video isn't immune to profit and other business issues. This is a lesson we need to learn if we want a viable online video model.
A survey by JD Powers found that customer interest in product features is lessening as phones evolve. Rather than features, price is driving purchases, and that change could have a dramatic impact on how IT departments secure these devices.
The drive to stream TV directly to HD sets, to tablets, or to PCs in the home may create a broader demand for streaming, and this could create a major new source of traffic pressure on mobile networks, mobile pricing, and mobile service policies.
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