Okay, maybe you don’t want to watch some version of mobile TV that delivers content that has been boiled and strained. But would you want to watch your favorite shows on your cell phone or other 3G-capable device? That’s going to be possible, now that AT&T has announced a deal with Sling Media (a subsidiary of the satellite TV service, EchoStar).
According to the AT&T press release, the SlingPlayer Mobile app is already available and works with a WiFi connection. This program lets you control a Slingbox with your phone, including changing channels to watch live television, or access recorded content. The news is that AT&T has tested the app and says that it makes “efficient use of 3G network bandwidth”. As a result, it will support the program on its 3G network.
This is an interesting move on AT&T’s part. The company has been hammered by Verizion for its poor 3G coverage, but this announcement indicates a commitment to move ahead with cutting edge applications. This announcement also has interesting implications for the “TV anywhere” efforts by cable and satellite services to deliver broadband access to their subscription content. Will consumers need that if they can get the same functions for free with the Slingbox application? Finally, what could this mean for Mobile DTV? Broadcasters are planning to deliver digital content for mobile devices; will users want to take what’s available over the airwaves, or will they prefer to access the choices they have back in their living room?
There’s a lot of new technology coming into play, and I expect that things will happen fast over the next two or three years. Expect that winning and losing won’t decided just on the merits of one approach over another. Sometimes a solution gets hot and consumers flock to it. Critical mass of users will be the real determinant of which approaches will survive.