20 March, 2008

The future dims for Mobile TV


I've been back in the UK recently and I have seen the future of Mobile TV and it doesn't involve the live streaming of content to handsets. Oh no, that looks antiquated – like crappy portable FM radios in comparison to an iPod.

So what prompted this? Two things:
  • Using BBC iPlayer – the ability to view high quality broadcasts downloaded to a laptop.
  • BBC’s announcement that iPlayer would work on iPods and iPhones shortly.

Those that know we well will tell you how much I detest television – I despise it.

However if you combine the very high quality of the BBC’s content with flexibility of the BBC’s iPlayer:

Features of the iPlayer
  • You can download content that has been screened within the last 7 days.
  • The content is viewable for 30 days
  • Once you have started watching a programme, you have 7 days to finish it.
  • Big catch: You can only download the content if you are in the UK. No doubt there are pirate sites or proxy servers that can assist you here.
  • It’s a peer-to-peer service (technology from Kontiki) – and works delightfully well.
Those brilliant David Attenborough nature programmes (what a national treasure!) that you missed? And interesting documentary that you missed that everyone’s discussing? Not a problem.

Incidentally, after the launch of iPlayer, UK consumers noticed that they had exceeded their monthly broadband capacities for the first time. See article. In the UK, Broadband is usually capped, started at 1GB / month.

So, if you were to combine the BBC's rich content:
  • with a 'browse the recent back catalogue and remotely queue for download the next time I am connected' service (nicely designed for a mobile screen of course).
  • plus “download this future programme when available” for future scheduling
  • plus always download the most recent news broadcast
  • plus some brainlessly easy phone synch functionality so that you could synch across all your devices (phone, iPod, Wii etc)
  • with a decent recommendation engine that sieved your previously viewed downloads with other people's recommendations
then I would definitely be MUCH more interested in the TV!

I think in-hotel viewing figures would plummet too. Perhaps this is also a fantastic opportunity for the BBC to build a community around its programmes. Nature lovers, sit-com fantatics.

There now, I don't know how many enterpreneurial ventures could be spawned off this little lot!

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