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The next 'killer-app' for the cellular handset

18 May 2005 News

Just when you thought the mobile handset contained every possible function and feature, along comes 'the 75-year-old killer-app': television. The cellular 'ecosystem' is gearing up for this next innovation, and mobile TV will add a new set of players such as broadcasters, content providers, and advertising entities.

In the midst of this excitement, naysayers claim that mobile TV is mostly hype and will occupy only some niche market segments. They object that consumers will not want to watch video when mobile; that the small screen will detract from the viewing experience; consumers will not watch a half-hour sitcom on a cellphone; television will run down the cellphone battery; and that implementing mobile TV is too expensive and does not offer a business case for operators.

Alan Varghese, ABI Research's principal analyst of semiconductor research, strongly disagrees. "Consumers can watch TV when sitting in a taxi or train, or in any waiting room," he says. "For optimum TV viewing, the best viewing distance is 5x the screen size. That is exactly the distance people hold their cellphones, and typical screen resolution is now sufficient for TV."

Varghese concedes that much mobile TV will consist of short clips, but feels that "for die-hard fans, watching their favourite half hour sitcom is not out of the question."

Power consumption? IC vendors and handset manufacturers now have techniques that reduce the power consumption of the TV section, allowing many hours of viewing time.

"So hold on if you are in the market for a new TV," continues Alan Varghese. "You may want to buy a cellphone instead."





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