MediaFLO still in European game
By Kate Bulkley
Wednesday October 5, 2005
Amsterdam. MediaFLO's Omar Javaid, responding to the recent decision by the EU's media and information society commissioner, Viviane Redding, to favour DVB-H for Europe's rollout of mobile television, believes that any further mandate of DVB-H would result in a "wide and broad industry backlash" that would be "very time-consuming," writes Kate Bulkley.
Speaking at an IBC Business Briefing in Amsterdam last week, Javaid, who is vice president of global development, marketing strategy and business operations for Qualcomm MediaFLO Technologies, said that Redding's views "have not deterred any of our commercial partners who think we have a tremendous opportunity in Europe." These partners include BSkyB in the UK, which has already run trials using MediaFLO technology.
Mark Watkins, director of mobile media solutions for National Grid Wireless, said that Redding's comments were "inappropriate and confusing," especially at a time when the business model for mobile TV is in need of bolstering. "It's not a technology issue," said Watkins. "The barriers to mobile TV at the moment are not technology or issues about whether it is MediaFLO or DVB-H. It would have been far better if Ms Redding was more worried about the business side and how Europe could play a role in that development."
Watkins strongly believes that mobile TV is a technology in need of a business model and a USP that will make the services catch the appetite of consumers. "People who are dropping the service now are doing so for quality of service issues," said Watkins. Paule Goode, senior analyst at M:Metrics said the subscriber numbers for mobile TV are low but that is partly a function of the low base of TV-ready handsets; only 16% of European mobile handsets are TV-enabled.
Mobile TV viewers are not as young as many people think - most users are between 25 and 34 years of age - and they are predominantly male. The biggest problem is usage: only 3.5 % to 7% of people with enabled handsets are watching broadcast TV in the big five European countries. According to M:Metrics research in Italy, which has the biggest commercial European rollout of DVB-H, fully one third of people equipped with DVB handsets watch TV, versus only 5% of those on 3G cellphones.