Still-in-beta web video platform Babelgum will later today reveal a partnership with Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) that will bring its service to both iPhone and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) handsets. The well-funded European outfit has convinced the carrier to zero-rate data transfer for its VOD content in its native Italy and in the UK, meaning watching the service will be free to users.
Babelgum quietly launched its iPhone app globally, certified by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) a few days ago, around the same time its big P2P TV rival Joost did the same thing. But, unlike Joost’s app – and unlike that under development by live TV streamer Livestation – Babelgum’s will work over 3G as well as WiFi. Vodafone, which carries iPhone 3G in Italy, is eliminating the data charge. Babelgum will also tomorrow launch a version for Nokia N95 and 6210 via Vodafone’s live! portal, with an N96 version to follow, and is investigating an Android version. Though Vodafone doesn’t have the iPhone in the UK, the data arrangement applies there, too. Vodafone will market the app through its portal and direct to customers.
Almost all content from the web-based Babelgum is accessible through the mobile apps, but not some shows for which it doesn’t have mobile rights, and the service will focus on promoting short-form content of 30 seconds to five minutes. Content will also be tailored for British and Italian audiences and will include concerts from the Coldplay and Kaiser Chiefs. Playlists created on the web version also appear in users’ palms through the mobile version.
For Babelgum, which is heavily backed by Italian telecoms billionaire Silvio Scaglia but has replaced three of its top executives in just over a year, this is a commercial trial to examine how viewers use its normally web-based TV service on mobile. The iPhone app comes with some nifty features – shaking the handset refreshes the program listings, and users can click to share shows via Facebook and Bebo.