Placeshifting Devices Could Threaten Mobile Video Services

ABI Research has released a report showing that “placeshifting” technologies (Like Slingbox, Orb) will face opposition from carriers who see them as a threat to their own mobile video offerings. This seems to be an extension of a release issued last month and the idea is not really new, although its pointed out that the operators are not the normal combatents against new technology.
“New digital distribution technologies typically meet the stiffest resistance from content owners such as movie studios,” says principal analyst Michael Wolf. “With placeshifting, we believe the biggest opponents will be mobile operators who see these solutions as rogue network applications that could potentially paralyze their cellular networks, as well as keeping consumers from paying for mobile video offerings being offered over new mobile video networks.”
This could be the case…Yesterday WSJ ran a story about some users of unlimited data plans being asked to use less data, which included the tidbit that carriers are developing technology to sense what applications consumers are using — I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that placeshifting technologies are one of the applications they’ll be looking for.
To be fair to the carriers, placeshifting technology uses a lot of bandwidth and doesn’t really add anything to the mobile ecosystem — for example the payments aren’t made through the carriers. In fact, mobile data has a pretty high value. If someone tries to download a large file over the mobile network (not including e-mail attachments) the chances are very high that they’ve already paid for the content. With placeshifting devices there tends to be a one-off payment so the price of the data sent becomes very low.
I still disagree with the carriers’ marketing practices…unlimited should mean unlimited. They should rather set an amount, high enough that a heavy user of mobile content wouldn’t be affected but lower than that required by a heavy user of a placeshifting service.