While I’m generally not a believer in “killer apps”, and I’m possibly even less keen on TV, Barron’s columnist Mark Veverka argues this weekend that mobile TV, on cellphones, natch, is a really, really big deal:
SOMETIMES A GADGET OR SERVICE COMES ALONG that knocks your socks off and possibly takes an entire industry by storm. Mobile video could very well have that kind of impact.
When I first heard about it, I yawned, figuring it was another geeked-out feature that would be too impractical or too difficult for the rest of us to use. Plus, the idea of watching television on a tiny screen on my cellphone didn’t seem especially enticing. On top of that, I’ve been trying to watch less television — not more — to set an example for my young kids.
Still, I think broad adoption of mobile video, which is being rolled out by wireless carriers and a few startups, is inevitable, because the price is going to be right. And I think people are becoming addicted to their mobile devices. Especially kids.
At least a couple of privately held startups have been making the rounds in Silicon Valley and beyond, chatting up their approaches to mobile video as they begin rolling out their services, MobiTV and GoTV. I met with both outfits this week, and in many ways, they’re very different.
MobiTV, which is operated by Idetic of Berkeley, Calif., basically is providing a live, streaming feed of popular broadcast and cable channels (some on-demand programming is available too).
GoTV Networks, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., not far from the studios’ back lots in Burbank, provides specially packaged “on-demand” versions of your favorite programs and networks. Both companies’ services can be watched on dozens of PDAs and mobile phones with color screens. Naturally, the more advanced the screen, software and chips, the better the quality of the picture. A JPEG chip — a special microprocessor designed for video — is often a key ingredient to better viewing on the hardware side.
Just to add personal fuel to the fire, I visited a stealth startup yesterday that did a jaw-dropping (in their favor) side-by-side comparison with MobiTV. I’ve also been looking at another startup that is taking things the next step: Mobile-to-mobile streaming video. Very neat.