Orange pushes TV on 3G display
Free magnifying glasses?
Orange customers "will be the first in the UK" to watch TV - live broadcasts - on their mobiles. And it will cost them: ten quid a month. And you'll have to have a Nokia 6680 phone. And you'll have to be in 3G coverage...
The good news is, you get an extra gig of data download to watch this. That works out at around 20 hours of viewing time - an hour a day, except weekends. It should be enough, given the demands on battery life - a subject Orange didn't discuss.
"Orange TV comes as part of the Orange 3G package on the Nokia 6680, which gives customers the chance to try new services for free," said the company this week.
New 3G customers can watch the Orange TV channels free for three months and they can access the service using their free 1GB-per month Try data bundle. After three months, customers sign up to a £10-per month subscription which gives them access to the Orange TV channels. That subscription price includes 1GB of data exclusively for use with the TV service.
The catch, of course, is that you can't use that gig of data for data.
For ten pounds a month, you'd sort of imagine you might get some pretty premium content. That depends, probably, on taste.
So far, not a single TV reviewer has said anything about "Celebrity Love Island" except (words to the effect of) "Yeuck!" - but that's available. Extreme sports is available, too. Altogether, the service has "an initial line-up of nine channels including ITN News, CNN, Cartoon Network," plus the "specials" like Love Island and Big Brother.
Optimism inspires Alexis Dormandy, chief marketing officer for Orange: despite the dull fare: "This signals the start of a huge new opportunity for our customers, broadcasters, handset manufacturers and production companies,” he said, hopefully.
The move is almost certainly more market research than market development. Orange is guessing that news will be a tempting way of getting users to pay premium prices for data downloads. This will put that to the test - eventually.
But the fact is, it's probably not going to be a good guide for a while. The requirement to "be in 3G coverage" means that you won't be able to watch this on the move - on a train or in a car or bus, for example - until 3G coverage is far more consistent. And in large built-up areas like metro and industrial, the experience of 3G users - not just Orange - is that you can lose the signal just by crossing a room.
How good is TV on the smallest screen?
Surprisingly, it's OK. The resolution of an ordinary phone screen is very similar to that of an ordinary TV; the Nokia TV phone is rather better, and if your eyes are good, you may find that it's good enough. But if you're over 40, better make sure you take those reading glasses...