Mobile Video Qualcomm’s much-hyped Flo TV mobile video platform has been a hugely expensive flop and now the chipmaker wants to unload the whole thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to write off mobile TV altogether. In fact, the idea, which has been around since Dick Tracy first strapped on his 2-way wristwatch, may be poised for a reinvention.
Qualcomm’s mistake, like others who tried mobile TV before it, was to base its platform on wireless technology. It spent upwards of $750 million on dedicated spectrum for the service, then millions more building transmission towers and other infrastructure, all on the come before content owners and distributors had committed to making programming available for mobile.
Both Apple and Google, however, appear to be eying a different approach: building a mobile video platform from the home out, instead of from the outside in. As I outlined recently in a white paper for GigaOm Pro (sub. req.), Apple’s video strategy is likely to involve the integration of streamed, purchased and stored-personal content into a single platform, with a significant mobile component, and with the iPad playing a key early role in bridging the worlds of mobile apps and the digital living room.
Google appears to have similar ideas. Its Google TV platform, as detailed in a separate white paper I wrote for GigaOm Pro, runs on the Android mobile OS, which makes mobile integration an obvious possibility. Right on cue, Motorola and Verizon are reportedly set to announce a new Android-powered tablet. No firm word yet on whether it will feature a Google TV mobile app, but it supports Flash, as Google TV does, and is expected to be tied-in closely with Verizon’s FiOS IPTV service.
The key for both the Apple and Google strategies is that the content is already in place and consumers are already paying for it, in one form or another. The rest, ultimately, is just engineering.