Monday, January 22, 2007
While people generally don't like to watch television on their computers- as indicated by a number of PC's specifically designed for the living room that have flopped over the years- they are receptive to watching TV just about everywhere else and mobile phones are no exception. People have actually been able to watch TV on mobile phones in the United States for several years now, but the number of choices of channels is limited as it the geographic area where such service is available.
Now it looks like China might be getting on board with television over mobile phones. China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television recently announced that it would create its own proprietary technology standard for mobile TV. Like many other economic developments in China, this one appears to be encouraged by a combination of China's increasing acceptance of capitalism and the fact that China has a massive and upwardly mobile population. Besides being a huge market, it's hoped that the Chinese will be especially receptive to the idea of mobile TV because the use of other mobile phone services is popular in China and because very few Chinese have access to other television services.
It will probably be a while before the standard is established, but Shanghai Media Group has already begun testing techniques that take advantage of 2.5G and 3G wireless networks to download or stream video clips to mobile phones. When the Chinese mobile TV standard is put into practice at some point in the future it will probably be called GY/T220.1-2006 and Chinese mobile service providers like China Netcom Group Corporation Limited and China Mobile Limited hope that it will save them money by eliminating the need to pay royalties to American and South Korean companies for the use of their standards.
This could have interesting ramifications for other providers of mobile TV. Right now big western mobile phone service providers like Nokia and Motorola dismiss the development, saying that it won't have much of an influence on their plans to expand service to China. While this a Chinese standard in and of itself may not get in the way of other providers making a go of mobile TV service in China, the Chinese government may have other ideas. It's true that as of yet no one in the Chinese government has suggested that other mobile TV standards wouldn't be allowed in China, but it wouldn't be surprising if at some point they did outlaw other standards.
While not very sportsmanlike, eliminating the use of other mobile TV standards in favor of their own would be in keeping with how the Chinese government deals with the rest of the world. It's really not that much different than the trade deficit that it has with the United States that's received so much press recently. China's modes operandi when it comes to foreign trade is to sell as much as possible oversees and produce what it needs itself. That way, they can be self sufficient at the same time as accumulating wealth from the rest of the world. Cutting out other mobile TV standards would be in keeping with this strategy.