Live television programming is on its way to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone. But the big questions are: Where? And is anyone going to pay for it?
Digital video company PacketVideo says it’s done with its mobile video app for the iPhone, which it will offer to carriers to sell their own branded mobile TV services.
PacketVideo, a division of NextWave Wireless (WAVE), says to “expect to see a major mobile operator launch this application within 6-8 weeks.” But a PacketVideo rep wouldn’t disclose if it would be AT&T (T), the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. carrier.
AT&T currently offers two other mobile TV services, but nothing for the iPhone. It sells MobiTV service for some phones, including a business TV service for the newish BlackBerry Bold, and Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Flo TV for other phones. MobiTV doesn’t have an iPhone app yet, and Flo TV requires a special chip to work in phones — a chip that Apple hasn’t built into the iPhone. So a PacketVideo-powered live TV app for the iPhone could potentially be a revenue maker for AT&T — if the carrier can get content deals figured out, etc.
That is, if anyone signs up for it. Mobile TV is popular in some countries — especially in Asia — but hasn’t taken off here. Just 2.1% of U.S. mobile subscribers watch programmed TV on their mobile phones, according to comScore M:Metrics.