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Half a billion mobile TV subscribers predicted by 2013

In a new report, ABI Research is predicting more than 500 million mobile TV viewers by 2013.

It predicts that after the upcoming U.S. digital switchover, traditional and mobile TV broadcasters and cellular operators in many regions will launch mobile TV services. And that will point up the difference between content streamed to mobile handsets over cellular networks and free-to-air broadcasting to mobile devices equipped with mobile TV tuners.

“Mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service. It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services," said Jeff Orr, ABI senior analyst. Given the frustrating experience that almost invariably accompanies learning to use a new device or application, most people won't even bother to try it.

But when mobile TV comes over the air, that's a different story. Then it's "television," something everybody understands. People will begin to see mobile TV as an extension of TV services they have at home, Orr said, and just as most people prefer to make phone calls with a telephone, they very likely will prefer to watch television on a TV set.

Therein lies the opportunity for mobile devices that thus far haven't made big impressions on the market. “Mobile TV viewing will not solely be on cellular handsets,” Orr said, “but also on MIDs and automotive infotainment systems. I believe that once the content is available and the services launched, mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are ‘natural fits’ for mobile entertainment.”

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