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Technology no longer the issue for mobile TV
Posted: 10-Oct-2007 [Source: ABI Research]

[ABI Research says mobile TV needs to find the "sweet spot" - the right mix for each type of content and each target audience.]

New York -- As recently as 2001, some mobile communications experts were saying that mobile television might be a reality within 20 years, but would probably arrive much later because the technical problems were so difficult. Yet only half a dozen years later, according to a new study from ABI Research, successful mobile video technologies are largely in place. As questions about business models, distribution, and content are resolved, the mobile TV industry will take off in earnest.

ABI Research director Michael Wolf says, "Just a year ago, there was a lot of discussion in the industry about whether unicast or broadcast distribution models would prevail, and it seemed possible that unicasting would soon disappear. The new research suggests that while the major top-ranked channels will follow a broadcast model, unicasting is here to stay as a conduit for the 'long tail' of other content that consumers will desire."

Unicasting also has the advantage of an unequalled intimacy between service providers, advertisers, and their "captive" audiences.

It is a time of experimentation. Most of the formats and distribution models under consideration have both pros and cons, and the effort is to find the right mix for each type of content and each target audience. Pricing is a good example. There are at least half a dozen proposed models for pricing access to mobile video content, reflecting the medium's origin in the collision between the entertainment and wireless communications industries. Some will find the "sweet spot" that will attract and hold consumers; others will not.

Even recent assumptions about consumers' likely viewing preferences are under challenge, in light of the medium's improving quality. "Last year," notes Wolf, "everybody was saying 'We're only going to have 2-minute, bite-sized morsels and mobisodes.' Yet our latest research shows that people are actually watching mobile TV in their bedrooms, for 40 minutes at a time. So many content providers are now thinking about hour-long episodes of prime-time shows."

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