SAN DIEGO — There are few attendees from the cable industry here at the Uplinq 2010 conference sponsored by Qualcomm and backed by Sprint, Verizon and AT&T, and that’s too bad, because there is much to be learned regarding the next generation of mobile content and how to get it to the customer.

The annual conference caters to Qualcomm’s Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) app developers, the techies who make possible all the ways to use BREW to get voice, video and data to mobile devices faster and in a consumer-friendly way.

“The convergence of telecom, wireless and the Internet has resulted in an explosion of mobile creativity, driving tremendous growth in the development and consumption of mobile apps,” noted Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm’s president and CEO. “These applications, combined with today’s mobile devices, now provide consumers with extraordinary capabilities, and we are rapidly moving toward the next evolution where wireless will be embedded in everything around us, creating truly personal connections.”

He continued, “Wireless will be embedded on everything. You will be connected to everything, and your phone will sense all information available in the environment through the cloud.”

Jacobs also told a press gathering later in the day that cable operators and programmers could use his company’s FLO TV technology first to datacast live programming to customers who want that kind of immediacy, and a premium price could be charged. However, a lot of that content then could be archived for downloading at another time (and perhaps at a cheaper price).

As part of the opening super-session yesterday, Steve Elfman, president/network operations and wholesale for Sprint, said, “Carriers can’t be the purveyors of all content. 
We need to work with partners.” As such, it has been working with Qualcomm to develop a multimode chipset for 3G and 4G phones and other wireless devices. Cox Communications, exhibiting at this show, also is a BREW customer for high-speed data applications.

Here, like at many other recent communications conferences, much of the talk centers on how to make money from BREW apps along with how to make BREW apps more accessible and “discoverable” to wireless users.

On the video-programming side, Madeline Herdrich, VP/mobile for Paramount Digital Entertainment, told attendees of the “Is Anyone in This for the Money?” panel that her group is involved in getting first-run films and clips out to consumers using a BREW app. She believes the first generation of any mobile app should be free, just to get the customer engaged.

“Then we watch how it’s being used (finding new movies, downloading clips, etc.), we improve on it and then we sell it as a ‘premium’ app,” she said. While she admits that mobile apps and the advertising surrounding those apps are in their formative stages and that “it’s going to take some time” to be truly profitable for content companies, “mobile Web apps (that push a company’s content) can save you money.”

Communications Technology also sat in on a product demo of what could prove to be a remarkable (and profitable) BREW tool for cable operators and programmers when it emerges from beta testing a little later this year. More on that when the R&D principals are ready to talk.

-Debra Baker

The Daily

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