You'll learn to love mobile TV
Or the kitten dies
Comment Prophets predict the mobile phone will kill the fixed line and the internet will kill newspapers.
What usually happens is the old systems shuffle up to make space. Nothing dies. Television didn't kill cinema, cinema didn't kill theatres. The internet means newspapers carry less advertising and some things, like stock prices, disappear from the pages, but they remain the favourite reading in bed on a Sunday. Very little goes the way of the LP record and the typewriter.
So I'm not going to predict the death of TV advertising by P2P, but it is threatened. When I get Desperate Housewives using BitTorrent, I don't get the adverts. Some dedicated seeder has chopped them out. And anyway, when I've downloaded the programme at home there isn't much point in Verizon asking "can you hear me now", I don’t have CDMA coverage in London.
Downloading TV has a good future. Sometimes it will be stored and watched on TiVo-like devices, but more often it will be illegal rips of TV shows zipping around the world. And as compression, processor power, memory and wireless USB become important enablers, those programmes will zip into our pockets. Sideloaded into mobile devices.
TV in the bus queue is nerdy now, but then so was listening to a Walkman with funny blue headphones in 1980. It won't just be phones - it's already iPod nanos and PSPs.
Ultimately, this is good for everyone. Not just the bus drivers who have calmer passengers to incarcerate in their abomination of transport.
OK, so the TV companies are ripped off by the pirates, and the carriers don't make anything from the sideloading, but the act of watching TV in the street changes usage. It won't all be sideloaded. Just as radio lives alongside podcasts, it will be streamed or broadcast DVB-H. That's what gives the opportunity. The stolen content is what will initially make people want pocket TV, but once they know and like it they will watch it with adverts.
Advertising agencies are amazingly slow to accept technological change. They’ll talk about the cool stuff at conferences but not have the courage to get a client to fund it. But once the client realises no one is watching their TV adverts anymore they will have to look for other ways to reach into consumers pockets. And there squashed against the wallet is the mobile phone. Or actually the mobile TV which can make phone calls. That's why streaming and DVB-H will get the ad budgets. DVB-H even has the smarts to provide direct buy-it-now links to websites from inside programmes. Direct response like we've never seen before.
Just as TV will have to evolve, so will advertising. We've seen the start of it with premium rate phone lines for X-Factor and the like, but it will take time for more new models to emerge. That time is what will allow conventional TV to shuffle aside and make space for television in the street.®
Catherine Keynes is a electronic engineer turned consultant who works for IT and telecoms companies. She blogs at Cat Keynes.
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