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Mobile Videos and TV Gain Smartphone Users, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Fast 3G and 4G networks are boosting the use of smartphones as a viewing platform for video content.  Smartphones, and mobile tablets such as the iPad, benefit from the tens of thousands of entertainment, media and games-oriented apps that can be downloaded to these devices.

Another booming trend is live video phone calls.  Apple led the charge with front-facing cameras in its most recent iPhones, iTouches and iPads, all of which offer a free video calling service called FaceTime.  Tango, which offers a free app of the same name, takes FaceTime a step further.  While FaceTime is limited to people with Apple devices, Tango is a cross-platform app through which users can invite friends to join Tango as long as they have a phone or tablet PC that uses the Android, Microsoft Windows Phone or Apple’s operating systems.  Meanwhile, Skype, owned by Microsoft, offers its own mobile video calling service thanks to its $150 million acquisition of smartphone streaming video service called Qik.

Video calls, since they demand a lot of bandwidth, can be difficult to carry out on a cellular network.  Services such as FaceTime and Tango must monitor transmission rates and adjust call quality to allow for broadband load changes or roaming from one cellular tower to the next.  They have designed intricate network software in order to accomplish this task.

As for mobile TV, Twentieth Century Fox Television is one of several companies producing one-minute entertainment episodes designed for the small screen.  Other popular shows creating “mobisodes” for smartphone viewing have recently included Sesame Street, The Daily Show, Fox Sports and several reality shows.  Download technology has progressed significantly, while 3G and 4G cellular networks are offering higher download speeds than earlier systems.

In the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint, among others, are in the business with MobiTV, a subscription service that charges a modest monthly fee.  The company delivers live television feeds over existing cellular networks.  These feed services provide consumers access to primetime and premium programming, DRM-protected TV and downloadable and on demand programming.  Its technology also allows mobile handset users to access a variety of digital music and radio stations.  MobiTV’s products are designed to support the AppleIOS, Android, BREW, RIM, WebOS and Windows Phone 8 in addition to a multitude of other operating systems.  Other video content providers such as News Corporation, MTV and CBS Corporation are selling content directly to users.

In addition to on-demand programming, Verizon and AT&T offer live broadcast TV in major U.S. markets with hundreds of programs from several major TV networks.  Some content airs simultaneously with what is on television, while a bit more than half is delayed.

Verizon went a step further with the release of its Go90 app, which streams programming from such providers as ESPN, NFL Network, MTV, VH1 and the Food Network to subscribers’ phones.  The company also purchased more than 50 exclusive series from producers such as CollegeHumor and Vice, and offers live broadcasts of sporting events.

Television network ABC has a phone app with a “Live” button that allows users in selected U.S. cities to live-stream local ABC programming.  The stream is available only to paying subscribers of cable and satellite providers.  Meanwhile, sports leagues have launched subscription-based access to real time sports events and video clips, further driving the mobile video market.



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