22 January 2013
CES 2 - Mobile TV
CES2013, the year of Ultra HD (see other blog). At this year'fs CES, there were also a few announcements/products relating to Mobile TV on show. In many cases, this was a case of little to no real new news, but announcements being made anyway.
One of the new products announced and being shown at CES was a tablet from RCA. This tablet had the unique feature of built-in TV tuners. The tablet has both standard ATSC and also ATSC M/H tuners allowing the users to pick up both normal broadcast TV, and mobile TV where available. The tuners, as is mentioned above, are built-in as is an extendable antenna. The tablet is due to launch in the "spring" into a crowded marketplace at a price of $299. TV is the main message being used at this stage to justify the price point and also to drive interest in the tablet. However, the tablet is also a capable Android based device, with all the normal specification points. It will be interesting to see how the market responds to this new device. Is it the start of a new category of integrated devices?
So what about the mobile broadcast offerings in the US? Dyle announced a partnership to support audience measurement and also that an android compatible device would be developed. More accurately one of their partners announced the intention to develop an android compatible product. The final press announcement concerned the RCA tablet discussed above. There were no new announcements regarding additional stations, content or real user services.
In parallel to Dyle, there exists another consortium called the Mobile 500 Alliance. Mobile 500 also use the ATSC M/H standard and they seem to be adopting MyDTV as they competitive brand to Dyle. At CES they announced a "soft launch" of MyDTV in Seattle and Minneapolis where 750 devices (the same physical device as used by Dyle) would be distributed in each market. Key for the Mobile 500 Alliance is that they have signed up brand names to advertise during channel changes and also with banner ads.
Neither Dyle nor MyDTV are promoting that the same device can be used to pick up each other's broadcasts. This would surely be a key point for consumers confused by the two potentially competing services.
One product announcement which was different at CES, came from the satellite provide Dish Networks. Last year, Dish announced their "Hopper" product, which was in reality a high end STB. Hopper had the ability to use an external device for placeshifting as well as other functions, including the controversial add skipping capability. At CES, Dish added the placeshifting capability into Hopper and a new feature, the ability to transfer recorded content on to a portable device for later viewing. As with the add-skipping this feature is sure to gain attention from content owners, specifically those supplying content which is not available free to air. However, it is also showing that there is a user demand for this capability.
Tablet TV is ideally positioned to take advantage of devices such as the RCA tablet. The marketing being done by the mobile TV groups promotes the concept of live TV on portable devices, which of course Tablet TV can do in a more extensive manner. Finally, Hopper from Dish shows the interest in providing customers the ability to take recorded content with them on their tablets etc. Something which Tablet TV does with free to air content, removing issues associated with pay content.
Dr Glenn Craib
Vice President Products & Services