When Will Mobile TV Really FLO

A big debate over the idea of video on cell phones, is whether or not the consumer will want to watch TV-style broadcast channels. We can envision checking in on the Yankees (or at least Om would) or some other live sports match, but not so sure all TV programs will translate. Qualcomm, who is spending hundreds of millions on its mobile broadcast network for MediaFLO, and Crown Castle, would probably disagree.

ABI Research certainly looks like it’s drinking the mobile broadcast coolaid, and the research firm sent out a release this morning that says “by the end of 2007 approximately four million subscribers will receive entertainment and information on their wireless handsets via mobile broadcast technologies such as DVB-H and MediaFLO.” That’s supposedly in the U.S.

Mobile broadcast phones could end up selling well, but we doubt it can get those numbers by the end of 2007. That’s just way too soon. At CTIA Verizon Wireless COO and VP Lowell McAdam said its service with Qualcomm’s MediaFLO likely wouldn’t be widely available until late Q1, early Q2 of 2007. If he publicly said that time frame, then it probably means it will actually take much longer. He made the statement in response to a question from the audience, and started the answer by sighing and joking if that question came from Paul Jacobs. Not a good sign.