Economy

TV on mobile… another hype? another flop?

This subject is hot. It was hot last week in Barcelona in 3GSM global congress. People were talking about watching TV on their mobile.

tvmobile.jpg

Reminded me of WAP. WAP is a protocol that could stand for Why Another Protocol. Remember it? It promised to deliver internet experience to mobiles. And it did.

But the experience was not good enough. Insufficient usability and stability, lots of lag, lack of contents and, in the end, the feeling of having someting not worth the cost in your hands. A lot of expectations, a lot of marketing resources and, as I wrote yesterday,not enough accomplished results.

SMS on the other hand… Short Messages. An acronym that you can see useful the first moment that you spell it. 160 characters per message ad maximum. Stripped of images, sounds or even format. Just text in the flesh.

When it came out it wasn’t even advertised. When you bought a mobile phone it didn’t even say if it had SMS capabilities, and you had to ask, or sometimes look by yourself. The companies didn’t give a damn about SMS, it was not sexy enough.

But it rocked. Right now millions of SMS are being sent every day. If the approximate fare for sending one is 0,10€, and being the associate cost so low and fixed: just mantaining an infraestructure that is almost the same used for GSM, there’s a great margin for the provider.

In fact the existence of the SMS business model even jeopardizes the UMTS data model: flat fares for transmitting data from mobiles. How can you try to sell megabits per second with low fares while you’re still charging 0,10€ for a few bytes? This is something I have to think about, but I suspect there’s a cartel here protecting SMS prices.

So, do you think that TV on mobile is something the user needs? More than MP3? At least you can listen to music while walking down the street, but I wouldn’t advise to watch TV while you cross the street. Will it be usable then? Will it be worth paying for?

SMS or WAP? I tend to lean towards the second.

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