Qualcomm’sFLO TV is launching the properly-named-but-it’s-kind-of-a-boring-moniker FLO TV Personal Television device for those who want to watch television on the go. But do consumers want to carry around another device and pay another subscription to watch TV wherever they are?
The FLO TV Personal Television plays live and time-shifted video content over FLO’s multicast network, and promises no buffering or downloading to watch your shows. The 3.5-inch touch screen allows users to surf through channels with the swipe of a finger.
FLO TV does have a decent lineup of channels including Comedy Central, ESPN, MSNBC and MTV. But the Personal Television will cost $250 and requires an $8.99 per month subscription fee.
That’s pretty steep for a technology that hasn’t even caught on with consumers yet, and would be on top of what people already pay for mobile phones and pay TV subscriptions. Though recent research from Infonetics predicts that the number of mobile video subscribers worldwide will grow tenfold by the end of 2013 from the 41 million in 2008, that isn’t all gravy for mobile pay TV providers. In his analyst note, Jeff Heynen, Infonetics directing analyst, Broadband and Video, wrote:
“Though video-capable phones continue to become more widely available, subscriber uptake of pay TV services (not free-to-air video) continues to disappoint. A combination of poor macroeconomic conditions, subpar 3G network coverage for streamed video services, and pricing that puts mobile video services out of reach for many consumers is contributing to the lackluster growth of mobile video services around the world.”
The FLO Personal Television might be a tremendous device, but it’s a question of whether people need it. It doesn’t do anything other than display TV. FLO TV is already available on some mobile phone handsets through AT&T and Verizon, and more video is coming to competing services like the iPhone including live sports and breaking news. Will people want to pay (and find another pocket for) a device that just does TV? Maybe Liz can pick one up to replace her now-useless analog Sony Watchman.