Mobile TV proves strong draw for CeBIT exhibitors

Remember Steve Willey's presentation in Japan, transcribed here a couple of weeks ago? About how Microvision is totally focused on being the user interface for mobile multimedia content? The pull is getting stronger than ever. Here's a story from this week's CeBIT conference. Microvision is the only company that can solve the three challenges listed by Dave Stoner, COO of ViewCast:

1. Content must be delivered in a way that makes economic sense; that is, content providers need to be able to deliver an experience that has value to users. TV on a small screen is not a compelling experience. The prices of these services have to remain very low to encourage any kind of adoption rate. With a full-size, full-color Microvision virtual display as part of the handset, the same type of multimedia experience users get at home in their living rooms is now available in the mobile environment. That gives users an experience that's worthwhile and gives content and service providers pricing power that makes the whole effort worthwhile to pursue in the first place.

2. Form factors must stay the same size, or continue to shrink. And yet, the display size must increase. Only a Microvision virtual display, in handheld projector or color eyewear configurations can allow the device form factor to remain small or shrink further, and still allow the full-size, full-color viewing experience that users will need.

3. The method of delivery must be determined, in this case meaning the entire infrastructure of content delivery, culminating in the screen and the user's experience of that screen. If the user's experience is not compelling, there will be no adoption and the effort and huge expense to create the networks and partnerships to deliver the content will not be worthwhile.

Microvision's virtual displays are unique in the marketplace. There's nothing else that gives you THE BIG EXPERIENCE of multimedia in these kinds of unique and ever-shrinking form factors.

I am not making this up. While the share price hits the rocks, the company's leverage in the marketplace grows stronger as the mobile industry comes to accept the inherent limitations on their profit potential that the 2" LCD screen represents.

And Microvision is there, with the answer. So, the question becomes then, who wants to be the first player to team up with MVIS and mass produce Microvision-inside MEMS displays in the kinds of huge quantities that the mobile industry operates in (i.e., hundreds of millions of units annually)?

Which is the greater risk? Going to market with virtual displays that unlock the profit potential of cellular networks? Or hoping that people just buy your mobile multimedia services anyway, even though it's simply not a compelling experience to squint and watch TV on a 2" cell phone screen?

Mobile TV proves strong draw for CeBIT exhibitors, hype over Origami grows

HANOVER, Germany (AP) - Companies like Lucent and Nokia announced new deals to build infrastructure and make mobile phone service faster as providers such as Virgin, T-Mobile and others strive to make TV viewing on tiny cellphones easier and cheaper.

Meanwhile, makers of mobile phones and the companies that provide service to millions of users were touting new high-speed services that will, if their promises hold, deliver television programming from music videos to live soccer to their handsets.

T-Mobile International AG, part of Europe's largest telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom AG, said it would start making MTV available to subscribers in Germany and Austria, with British customers not far behind. While most of the material will be tailored for T-Mobile's users, some existing MTV programming would be used for the smaller screen.

T-Mobile is in the process of expanding its mobile phone networks, particularly in Germany where it is getting help from Finland's Nokia Oyj to build out high-speed downlink data packet access, or HSDPA, networks. That will give users speeds of up to 14 Mbps, ensuring quick, flicker-free and smooth video downloads.

"We can offer both our business and private customers faster services, such as downloading large files, multimedia and music," said Klaus Jurgen Krath, vice-president of RAN Engineering T-Mobile International.

A similar network is to be deployed in Britain and the Netherlands.

The demand for TV on mobile devices is expected to grow from more than one million now to as many as 250 million by 2010, ABI Research has forecast, ultimately creating a market worth some $27 billion US.

Add in the sheer number of PDAs and handheld devices and demand by consumers for entertainment, and it's a market companies want to pursue.

"The technology is there today to deliver video via IP networks to handheld devices," said Dave Stoner, president and chief operating officer of ViewCast, which develops video and audio encoding solutions to help deliver content.

"The challenges lie in developing a business model for content delivery that makes sense economically; the form factor of the handheld device; and the method of delivery."

European and Asian markets have been quick to embrace such technology, though market penetration lags. In Britain, for example, operators Orange, Vodafone and 3 stream programs over third-generation networks.

O2, which ran a trial service in Britain, found that nearly 80 per cent of the people it polled would spend more to subscribe to a mobile TV service.

And Virgin Mobile plans to beam broadcast TV to its subscribers later this year.

In the U.S., a recent survey by In-Stat/MDR found that about 13 per cent of wireless customers were interested in buying video service for their cellphones.

To feed that demand for faster speeds, Lucent Technologies Inc. said it has received seven separate contracts, with a value of $300 million, to expand networks in Poland, Russia and for the U.S. army, among others.

"Our customers' competitive landscape continues to undergo tremendous change as the boundaries between the telecom, media and Internet worlds continue to converge," said Frank D'Amelio, Lucent's chief operating officer.

CeBIT is expected to draw nearly 500,000 visitors during its seven-day run. Last year, more than 475,000 people attended.


  1. In a word, I'd say it will be Japan that makes MVIS.

    The rest of the world will follow.


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