Guest Commentary: Standards, Content Falling Into Place for Mobile TV

Mar 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Mobile TV—it could have 210 million viewers and global earnings of $11.7 billion by 2011. But while transforming promise to profit is acknowledged to be a challenge, the service characteristics of personalization and convenience, driven by video convergence and supported by original value-added products, can create the compelling experience that’s imperative to switch on and retain a loyal audience for mobile TV.
The fundamental building blocks for mobile TV—standards and content—are falling into place.
The industry is making progress on infrastructure interoperability and content management. Within the next 12 to 18 months, mobile TV handsets will be available that aggregate content from different technologies (such as 3GPP Multimedia and DVB-H systems) and across service provider networks.
Content has long been touted as king in attracting viewers. And improved compression technologies are making it easier to digitize and distribute entertainment for a high-quality mobile viewing experience.
Our research and system trials show that personalized, convenient and original services, reviewed below, are key ingredients to making mobile TV a “must have” product.
Personalization: Mobile TV will be a flexible medium. Accessed over a feature-rich, highly personalized mobile device, subscribers will be able to quickly consume entertainment at times and places convenient to them.
Users will benefit from “time-shift” TV, enabling them to pause live programming, restart at the same place when convenient or even replay critical action they may have missed.
As well as time-shifting, network technology will record what we watch and our favorite transactions. The intelligence will be applied to tailor services through the mobile TV device.
Analogous to a “smart client,” the TV viewing screen will be surrounded by a “context aware” border. This will house menu icons as well as services complementary to the program, such as screen savers or ringtones for purchase or one-click access to content such as news clips, weather and favorite mobisodes—programming designed for mobile consumption.
We’re often asked what the killer app is for mobile TV. While it’s the overall experience rather than one particular product, in our view, that will capture viewers, it’s when we have time to kill that mobile TV really comes into its own. By proactively offering services such as access to last night’s sports highlights to a viewer on the subway, mobile TV will provide immediate, intuitive and personalized entertainment.
Convenience: The mobile device is a “can’t live without” companion. And with an engaging and personalized single electronic program guide (EPG), its convenience and range of services will be significantly enhanced.
The EPG will connect users with aggregated content from across networks including DVB-H, cellular and IPTV systems. As well as searching and accessing favorite shows while mobile, the EPG will transform the device into a wireless remote control. Subscribers will be able to send instructions to the home set-top box or digital video recorder to record programming or download a movie.
They also can set alerts through the DVR to be prompted when categories of programs such as sports or soaps are available to watch live, either on the home TV or mobile handset.
Value-added applications: Think you’ve got a lot of digital data now, from MP3s to MPEG videos? As digital entertainment becomes ubiquitous, we all will have a whole lot more “stuff.” Service providers can protect these cherished files and make content delivery more efficient by creating a converged media network.
In this converged network, subscribers can have access to secure online storage to catalog their content and access it from any device, including mobile TV handsets.
It also will be a breeze to share it. Images or videos taken on the mobile device can be uploaded (using HSUPA networks) by subscribers to their digital stores and also to their friends’ and families’ libraries.
Mobile TV demands a broad technical compass: Networks must be aggregated and a single EPG created; retail systems (to sell content) must be developed; the provision of access to near-on-demand or on-demand content must be supported; all user transactions need to be recorded; users will require network storage; and interactivity and seamless connectivity is required across devices.
Mobile handsets also need to be more intelligent, providing a primary interface to tailor the viewing experience to users.
While these are clearly challenging requirements for the industry, we are meeting the challenge. For example, at Motorola we have broad experience across all components necessary to deliver mobile TV and the converged media environment, helping to reduce the risk of major investments and directing a TV experience that will turn subscribers into viewers. n
Bilal Saleh is director of applications and mobile TV services for Motorola.
Sources: Informa Telecoms and Media, “Mobile TV: Broadcast and Mobile Multimedia”; Juniper Research, “Mobile TV: Watch It Grow.”


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