Asia-Pacific mobile video market will grow to billions by 2013

The market for mobile video services in the Asia/Pacific region is expected to grow to $1.88 billion by the end of 2013, according to a recent analysis by market research firm Frost and Sullivan.

A desire by mobile operators to arrest the declining average per user (APRU) by introducing new types of services to attract customers is the main impetus behind this growth, Frost and Sullivan notes in “Asia Pacific Tunes Up for Mobile TV.” Mobile television in particular is seen as “the killer app” for bringing in alternative sources of revenue.

The region’s reputation as a mobile TV technology innovator may also be a factor. South Korea and Japan have introduced mobile TV broadcast services (ahead of the other Asia-Pacific countries) built on homegrown standards. South Korea spearheaded the DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) standards, launching S-DMB (satellite digital multimedia broadcasting) and T-DMB (terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting) in 2005. Japan launched ISDBT (integrated services digital broadcasting — terrestrial), or 1seg, in 2006.

Other markets that have commercially launched DVB-H mobile TV broadcast services include Vietnam's VMC (Vietnam Multimedia) in September 2006 and the Philippines' Smart Communications in February 2007.

In the rest of the Asia-Pacific markets, digital video broadcast handheld (DVB-H) and MediaFLO remain most commonly selected for trials. In China, T-DMB (a different version from South Korea's) and CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting), both homegrown standards, are being considered for the country's national mobile TV broadcast standard.

The news analysis concludes that while South Korea (which accounted for 87 percent or $383.7 million of the revenues in 2007) will remain as the biggest market for mobile video in Asia-Pacific (outside of Japan); other potential leading markets include Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

Pricing is likely to be biggest hurdle to a wider uptake of mobile video and TV services. In 2007, the total mobile ARPU in Asia-Pacific stood at $16.8 (including Japan), largely due to the region's lower disposal income. In addition, mobile TV broadcast service (multicast) requires compatible handsets, which are not widely available throughout Asia-Pacific as of yet. In markets where an impending launch is expected, mobile handset manufacturers are still finalizing handset requirements with the major mobile operators.

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