My first mobile TV

A lot if said and written about Mobile-TV, what is really is and how it will develop. However I will never forget my first mobile TV, which I received from my father after he returned from a business trip to Japan in the 70’s. Yes it was a real mobile TV solution from Sanyo. The TV set was roughly the size of 2 novels put on top of each other, and it has a Black & White screen the size of a case of matches. The fact that the solution did not contain a mobile phone is no secret. It was a pure TV solution, based on the ground based TV signal, which all Danish homes used to receive TV at that time.
My experiences from that age I will not forget either, the way my friends in the school looked at the TV when I brought it there. One thing was to see the picture come alive on the screen; another thing was to follow the program. Here the screen size, combined with the fact that it was a Black & White solution, meant that it was not the most optimal TV. However it was mobile and it had sound.
Since the 70’s a lot have changed, and I have seen a lot of solutions based on streaming via GSM/GPRS, CDMA, WCDMA, DMB-T, DMB-S and DVB-H. During one of my visits in Korea I had a meeting with a number of players in the value chain that exists around Mobile-TV. We spoke a lot about business models, and how to get a business case out of a mobile TV solution. In much the same way as the people working with DVB-H in Europe, they people working with DMB in Korea had to admit that it is hard to prove a business case, looking at the cost to terminals, tailored content, marketing and day to day operations! Actually the business case and revenue sharing models have not changed since the 70’s and till today. However in the same period the competition on the media market have escalated and the number of players in the TV market exploded, which basically means more players are fighting for the people’s attention, time and money.
My experiences in Korea with DMB did not answer many of my questions. Actually the experiences raised more questions than it gave any answers. Again and again I ended up sitting with the question on how a mobile business case can be justified. We have asked the question to Nokia many times, and even with an intense dialog with Nokia, they have not succeeded convincing us that there is a healthy business case in Mobile-TV. The arguments I hear around Mobile-TV, reminds me of the same arguments which were used to Hype 3G from a number of infrastructure providers. Back in 2000 they claimed that mobile customers ARPU because of 3G would grow to the double by 2006! Fact is that the ARPU development in the same period has been flat, and the promised growth has vanished.
In the summer of 2007, precisely on 29th May I received a Nokia N77 with DVB-H from TDC, and hence access to the 6 most important TV channels in Denmark. I decided to forget about business models, and spend and consume the product without looking at the business models behind. Mobile-TV would be the only for of TV in my life for a period of 14 days. A Nokia N77 would be the way I consumed TV on in this period, and I would watch all types of programs and evaluate both the positive and negative sides of a mobile-TV solution.
The N77 is a good phone; do doubt about that, a phone which has what most people needs. It’s a high-end product with a lot of functions and a reasonable battery life. Using the mobile-TV is easy, fast and simple, and the power consumption is astonishing good (low). To sum it up mobile-TV via DVB-H on a N77 is a solution which functions technologically well considered it is a product in the beginning of its product life time.
It’s no news that skillful engineers can make good products. However something entirely different is the things the engineers can not change, the fact that the screen has the size it has, and that content shown on this screen is designed for bigger screens. Through our work for some of the worlds largest and most interesting media companies, we have learned quite a bit about content, why there is difference on content, and why on how to adapt content from one media channel to another.
You do not need to be journalist or work in the media world to know that content is different in relation to the channel it is consumed, being newspapers, magazines, radio, TV  or on the Internet. Content for mobile-TV needs to be developed for the media channel it is consumed in. This does not mean broadcasting normal TV programs to a mobile phone, and believe that the content will work as well as on an normal 32’ screen.
During the 2 weeks I used mobile-TV, I watched programs all hours of the day. I used it at home in the living room, the bedroom, in the kitchen. I used the solution traveling, in bus, car, taxi, in train and walking on the street. I watched all types of programs, news, sports, documentary, music, movies, cartoons etc. Basically I used mobile-TV any conceivable way imagined, and consumed all the program types known from normal TV.
The conclusion after 2 weeks intense use can be split into 3 parts!
The technological, which programs works on mobile-TV and how mobile-TV is consumed.
Technological DVB-H works, the picture and sound quality is in top, and the battery usage is impressing on a N77. Here the engineers did a really good job.
Regarding programming, one thing stands out, mobile-TV is NOT mobile-TV, but radio with pictures. Programs that demand much visual attention such as sports and movies, do not work on such a small screen. It’s like watching porn through a keyhole. Not a venture that you will ensure for a long time. However programs such as news and music do work. The combination of sound and the possibility to follow the program via pictures makes mobile-TV look like a high-end radio product.
The main conclusion must be the fact that mobile-TV via DVB-H is flow television, and not an on-demand solution. With this in mind, I think we have a good description of what mobile-TV will develop into in the future. The advantage with radio as a media, is that we can jump in and out of the media, and the fact that we accept that we did not hear the program from start, which is in stark contrast with ordinary flow TV, where the viewers are used to watching a program from the start to the end, if we find the program interesting.
So where is the best place to use mobile-TV? Actually anywhere but in the sofa! Mobile-TV can be consumed everywhere, especially places where your are relaxing and have 10-30 minutes time. As mobile-TV is not TV but radio with pictures, you can consume it in the bed, in the kitchen on the run or anywhere you have some time to kill.
Mobile-TV is a fantastic way to limit you phone-usage.
The question that we hear often is if we believe in mobile-TV? The answer is yes! However we have a lot of reservations which needs focus, when evaluating the product.
The first reservation is around the business case! It is hard to find. Especially looking at all the costs, and looking at a SAC against the price customers will expect to pay. The second reservation is the cost of producing content to this specific media channel. We believe that the costs per active customer will be high, if not REALLY high. The delivery form, it is not flow-TV customers want in the future. Ask any director in the TV world, and they will say that flow TV is dead, and the future is TV on demand. Why are technology providers betting on flow-TV when it is a dying technology?
Mobile-TV has a future, but the customers can not see any different on mobile-TV delivered via a DVB-H network or a streaming solution, so we believe that the providers of ground based digital TV for the mobile will face problems in a world where 3G operators offer different streaming solutions, which is both flow-TV and on-demand. We believe that the technology has a lot of possibilities, but it will take time and cost a lot of money to develop the mobile media. Looking at how mobile-TV have developed since the 70’s when I got my first mobile-TV I am not impressed.
Mobile-TV is and will be next generation radio…