Tablets Propel MobiTV
This Wednesday, Apple is hosting one of its mystery events, where the secret isn’t really a secret at all. The company is widely expected to introduce the second generation of its iPad, less than one year since it rolled out its original tablet.
Since the April 2010 launch of the iPad, video distributors of every ilk – cableco, satellite, telco and cellular – have created applications to stream video on the device. (For more, see Off The Couch: How The iPad Is Evolutionizing Remote TV).
MobiTV offers a white-label technology platform to power mobile TV applications. MobiTV powers several video applications for the iPad, including MobiNOW and UFC Mobile. The company recently announced that its MobiTV Accelerated Media Platform was powering mobile video on the Dell Streak 7 for T-Mobile TV.
In addition to video on tablets, MobiTV’s technology platform runs TV on smartphones, including the carrier-branded experiences for Sprint TV, T-Mobile TV, AT&T U-Verse Live TV and NFL Mobile to Verizon Wireless subscribers.
The mobile video includes on-demand streaming as well as live TV. "Live content is driving a lot of usage on our services," said Cedric Fernandes, VP of technology at MobiTV. "We’ve seen it as a big differentiator – Obama’s inaugeration and now with NFL we run for Verizon."
On average, more than 10,000 files travel through MobiTV’s Accelerated Media Platform daily for encoding, optimization and distribution to devices over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks, culminating in 1.5 billion minutes of mobile video delivered in 2010. Approximately 350 devices run MobiTV’s technology across different carriers, said Fernandes.
According to ABI research, the mobile TV industry is predicted to exceed $20 billion by 2015, while a study from the Nielsen Company showed a 44 percent increase in mobile video viewing in 2010.
Although MobiTV doesn’t have any traditional cable operator customers yet, it has agreements with some cable networks including MTV and ESPN.
"We do have our sights set on cable operators," said Fernandes. "We come at it from the mobile side, which is one of the toughest systems to deploy video on compared to cable IPTV. Some of the use cases for the technology may not be possible in a converged environment, integrated with a QAM-based cable system," he said. "But we can deliver for IP-based devices and still hook into that MVPD’s billing system."
Improved data rates with 3G and now 4G have improved video quality on mobile devices. "Tablets coming to market are going to be a game changer because of their screen sizes," Fernandes said. "As smartphones had larger screens, we saw the usage minutes go up. It’s not just the network that controls quality on these devices. The device is also important."