Why Mobile TV Failed?
In a recent article in BBC, Maggie Shiels discusses future of mobile TV (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8210677.stm) and why it was a failure. Once; early 2000, a darling of mobile wireless community, it is now considered a failed attempt. But no one in mobile community has spent time to analyze its failure and propose a remedy for it and other potential technologies like Mobile TV. It started like other hyped technologies by unrealistic forecasting. Analysts predicted more than 80% penetration in developed countries by 2010; US supposes to lead the market because Americans love TV! Shiels argues that one of the reasons for failure in US is lack of smart phone penetration in the market. At the moment, the smart phones make 18% of total mobile phones in the US. However, just 28% of mobile users with smart phones, use mobile TV feature (13.4 million users in US in 2008). She forecasts 300 million mobile TV subscribers by 2013 with biggest growth in emerging markets. This is a quarter of what most analysts forecasting around 2002!
But the fundamental issue that no one has addressed so far is lack of correlation between content and mobile communities. While big vendors, like Nokia and Qualcomm, were pushing for a broadcast model, content community believed in a “snack” model for mobile video. Mobile vendors, were trying to push a full-fledge broadcasting network philosophy, because they like to sell more hardware and new platforms. Content and broadcasting community on the other hand, did not see the value for a 24/7 broadcasting model, because phone was not a perfect “third screen” for them to generate revenue. People were talking about watching football matches and concerts on their mobile phones without considering reality. During “planned events” (like football matches and other important sport events, concerts, etc) mobile operators see a dramatic reduction on their network load in general! Fanatic sports fans who want to watch a football match or Super Bowl in US, planned their party in advance. They will be at home with other friends and use their HD TV to have the best experience. Jonathan Barzilay, Flo TV’s senior vice president of programming and advertising mentioned “we have seen tremendous spikes in viewing for live news and sport”. But he didn’t mention the size of this spike! Of course, there people who can not be at home and watch planned-events, but they are minority. Probably this spike is from 100s to 10,000s; still too low for mobile operators to justify huge investment. And of course there are “un-planned” events. September 11th 2001, everyone wanted to have the news, but even CNN web site crashed! It is not realistic to design and deploy a network for once in a lifetime event.
Lets be realistic next time when we want launch a technology. I am afraid, it is not going to be the last time!