Mobile digital TV (Mobile DTV) is one of the new technologies under development intended to bring video programming to portable devices. Mobile DTV is designed to use part of a local television station’s broadcast spectrum to provide a signal for mobile devices, delivering a combination of free and subscription content.
One issue (of many) challenges for this new approach is that many users already have a portable display of some sort, such as an iPhone or iPod or notebook computer. Will these people want to buy a separate display just to be able to watch TV on the go? I’m guessing that they won’t.
Valups is a company that thinks that all consumers need is something that lets them watch TV on their existing devices. At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference this week, the company demonstrated their new Tivizen device. (It was also shown at CES with the “Tivit” name, which Valups has since changed.) The concept is pretty simple; the device has the tuner required to receive Mobile DTV, and then also acts as a WiFi access point so that WiFi-equipped devices can then receive the images. The company expects the Tivizen to ship starting in May for $149, carried by retailers at Amazon and eBay.
It’s an interesting concept, but I still question whether or not a broadcast model will work in this day and age. People don’t want a traditional radio or television system where you get to watch whatever the broadcaster chooses to send out to you at that moment. Consumers expect to have more control over their content, and I expect that services that let you choose what to watch when you want will be more successful. If the display has WiFi support, I expect that most users will be able to access the Internet for video content. And many of these devices also have 3G or 4G mobile wireless Internet support, so they’re not tied down to WiFi access points. The Tivizen may be trying to come up with a new version of an old solution, when in fact, the market is ready for something entirely different.