Bitbop, Fox Mobile’s subscription-based TV program showcase, has made its debut on Research in Motion’s BlackBerry this week and is now preparing to begin beta tests on Google’s Android system. The beta will launch in two weeks, Joe Bilman, Fox Mobile’s EVP, Global Products, told paidContent in an interview. In addition, Bitbop is also working on an international expansion as well. This fall, the mobile VOD service, which costs U.S. subs $9.99 a month to stream over 100 popular TV programs, will be available in Germany. In contrast to the U.S., at least right now, the German Bitbop will allow viewing on PCs in addition to mobile.
Bilman declined to discuss why it isn’t yet available on the PC in the U.S., but it probably has to do with the different licensing deals for TV programming in the U.S. Aside from its international goals, Bitbop is also looking to eventually create an app for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. But unlike the rest of the of world, Bitbop isn’t rushing to knock down Apple’s door to the iTunes App Store.
Bitbop’s argument is that apps for the iPhone have reached a saturation level, where it’s harder and harder for new services to break in. The BlackBerry, on the other hand, has largely been ignored as a vehicle for entertainment while it still positions itself mainly as a tool for business professionals. In Bilman’s view, those individuals like to watch videos as well, so why not carve out a niche there as it seeks to build its name?
“Why did we choose RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) as our first partner? The potential of the smartphone has barely been tapped,” Bilman said. “In a sense, it’s easier to make a video app for the iPhone — that’s a large part of what it’s intended for. For the Blackberry, which was built for e-mail and SMS, making a video app is a much more transformative experience, by making more expansive use of its capabilities.”