Phone and TV

Ramesh Jain writes about the implications of an announcement by Texas Instruments that it has developed a chip that will allow TV on mobile phones:

The implications of this for Video-on-Demand are quite interesting.

It will be very surprising if people watched their PhoneTVs as regular TVs. There is a trend worldwide to go for bigger and bigger TVs with very high quality HDTV pictures. Since people will be used to this, they are not going to really enjoy watching TV on a small screen. Another important factor will be a business model. How will this TV will get to phone screens? Most probably, people will have to pay for getting this TV signal in some way. Thus, we are talking about low quality TV for which people will have to pay.

But this definitely does not mean that PhoneTV will not be popular. What it really means is that it will be used differently. Clearly people may not watch a movie on PhoneTV, but people may watch important news events (show me any events related to San Diego), sports events (such as connect me to the game when Patriots get in the red zone), or personalized highlights of these events so that only important things of the event can be enjoyed while not wasting money on routine parts. This will give rise to two different types of technologies: techniques to automatically track events and generate so people are notified of important events and to prepare highlights and present them based on personal preferences. Both these are what will make Video-on-Demand based on what is happening within a program not just based on what the program is. The first technology to track events in an event will require combination of technology for modeling domain events and for continuous queries. This may also require technology to build a live data base of events happening anywhere so based on users preferences and desires, they can be notified of appropriate events and could be connected when such events are happening in real time. This will be a very challenging technology. The second technology to create highlights of events and showing them to people is simpler than the first, but is still something that will be quite challenging.

Broadcast TV will definitely be part of PhoneTV, but will it be the only thing? I think there will be many interesting applications that will emerge because it is going to be available on Phone. Connecting to home or to some other specific places where a particule event takes place, using security or event cameras. Once again, there may be event detection that will result in connecting to a specific phone and streaming video. But this will be different than the broadcast TV.

What is going to happen soon is that your phones may be used more for video (that includes audio) than just plain old-fashioned audio.

WSJ writes on the TI announcement:

The chip shrinks what had been separate TV tuner, demodulator and channel decoder chips into a single device. Rivals such as Xceive Corp. and Dibcom supply just tuners or demodulators. But with TI’s single chip, phones and personal-digital assistants could display as many as 30 frames a second — twice the rate that the best phones today show video clips. TI supplies cellphone makers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and dozens of private-label cellphone makers, but it hasn’t divulged any TV-handset partners. Nokia has shown demonstration models of TV-equipped cell phones.

Unlike household TVs, hand-held sets require a new digital broadcast signal that can be picked up while the cellphone or PDA is moving. The chips will support European and Japanese standards for mobile TV, known as digital video broadcasting-hand-held and integrated services digital broadcasting-terrestrial, respectively. In the U.S., the DVB-H standard has already undergone trials in Pittsburgh using existing wireless transmission towers.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.