Mobile TV will not go with the Flo

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. Read More »

Yes. Apple’s streaming platform is about video, not music

Greg Sandoval’s piece from yesterday on CNet about Apple and Lala has been getting a fair amount of follow-up action today. It seems finally to be dawning on folks that Apple’s acquisition of the music-streaming service last year was not simply about parking the iTunes music store in the cloud.

As Sandoval notes, not much has been heard from Apple about Lala since it shut the service down in May. He then quotes “sources” to the effect that Apple has been telling label execs recently that anything it does, streaming wise, in music is likely to be “modest in scope.” The money graf that has everyone’s interest piqued today, however, is Sandoval’s reporting that “most of the time since the acquisition, the Lala team has worked on an undisclosed video feature instead of music.” Read More »

Boucher letter spells trouble in pay-ville

Comcast-NBC Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee tossed a live grenade into the TV industry’s scrum over its online future. In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Boucher urged the commission to approve Comcast’s pending merger with NBC Universal, but only after imposing several conditions. Among those is a demand that none of NBC’s programming currently available for free online or over-the-air be moved to any sort of paid platform.

The FCC isn’t required to follow Boucher’s “advice,” but given his committee’s oversight of the agency’s budget ignoring it would be un-shrewd on Genachowski’s part. But it’s a big ask of Comcast. It’s also not-great news for content creators doing business with NBC or its cable networks. Read More »

Take two tablets as directed

Steve Ballmer

Tablets BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion has summoned the press to an event in New York on Tuesday,

where it is expected to announce plans for a November rollout of a a tablet device. Reports say the device will be called the Blackpad and will feature the same 9.7-inch screen as Apple’s iPad. The device is also expected to be powered by BlackBerry OS 6, the previously announced overhaul of  RIM’s operating system. No word on pricing yet.

Big question for content owners and distributors is whether the Blackpad will attract a significant number of developers and whether the new OS can support rich, immersive media apps. GigaOm Pro mobile analyst Colin Gibbs has his doubts.

While RIM, Google and others rush to get into the tablet game before Apple runs away with it, however, Microsoft seems oddly unhurried. Speaking to analysts last week, Steve Ballmer said,  “We’ll talk about about slates and tablets and blah, blah, blah, blah,” as if they were the last thing he wants to talk about. Read More »