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3G iPhone to make significant impact on mobile TV market

With the imminent launch of its 3G iPhone, Apple has a window of opportunity to have a significant impact on the mobile TV market, according to a report written by Unwired Insight.

There is of course considerable speculation about what next to expect from Apple’s iPhone ahead of CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on Monday.

“The iPhone could become the mobile video delivery device of choice for many consumers, by providing a compelling mobile TV and video proposition before mobile broadcasting networks, such as DVB-H become widely available,” says Mark Heath, co-author of the new report iPhone Shows the Way for Mobile TV.

Many operators are offering mobile TV services, using 3G streaming, but these are constrained by lack of coverage, relatively poor quality of service and 3G capacity limitations (as 3G networks may only support relatively low penetrations of mobile TV users).

Market research shows that many iPhone owners have accessed TV and video content, with greater frequency than subscribers using other types of mobile handsets. With added 3G capability, the iPhone will bring the following highly attractive attributes to the mobile TV market.

Video-friendly specifications, including high-quality widescreen display, substantial internal memory and low battery consumption. Access to a rapidly increasing range of TV and video content provided by Apple or specifically optimised for the iPhone. By May 2008, the iTunes Store had a catalogue of 600 TV programmes and over 1500 films and, by April 2008, Apple iTunes had sold 125 million TV programmes.

The ability to support multiple methods of delivering TV and video content, including sideloading, indoor WLAN and high-speed 3G cellular data access. Sideloading and indoor WLAN minimises the amount of TV and video traffic that needs to be carried on 3G networks, allowing 3G operators to support high rates of mobile TV penetration.

While iPhone take-up has been relatively modest, with cumulative sales of about 5.4 million units by the end of March 2008, this is due to Apple’s initial strategies of constraining worldwide availability and launching exclusively with a single operator in each market. As Apple moves away from these restrictive distribution strategies, there could be substantial growth in the number of iPhones sold.

“If the iPhone is able to achieve significant worldwide market share, it will be well-positioned to have a significant impact on the way mobile subscribers purchase and watch mobile TV and video content,” adds Dr Alastair Brydon, co-author of the report.

Unwired Insight was established in 2001 and provides expert advice on wireless technology, mobile networks, devices and standards, including GSM, GPRS, DECT, UMTS and LTE.

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