Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Microvision: Personal Mobile TV/Projectors

It is my belief that in the coming short years all sorts of video devices and services will dominate our communications, collaboration, networking, entertainment and learning world… and smartphones, mobile TVs and pico projectors will play a major role.

Mobile TVs for business or personal entertainment are no more a vision of the future… but indeed the reality of the future that is already here.

This is what ABIresearch has to say...

“The mobile TV market is a dynamically evolving convergence of the media, mobile communications, and consumer electronics industries. It consists of a global ecosystem of content providers, service providers and retailers, network operators, and network and device equipment vendors. The mobile TV ecosystem collectively provides an end-to-end, information and entertainment (“infotainment”) service over wireless networks to end-users in mobile environments. The mobile TV market has tremendous long-term promise as a next-generation infotainment experience. It will emerge over the next few years to grow to a value of more than $50 billion by 2013.”

Here’s the link to a reasearch report by ABIresearch...

Free mobile TV [on a cell phone] is very popular in many countries in the Asia/Pacific region, specifically Japan and South Korea. However, despite the large number of viewers, these advertiser-supported offerings have problems generating sufficient revenues… but that is not going to change the eventual adoption of mobile TV by the millions.

Currently, mobile TV in the US is not as poplar as it is Asia/Pacific region. Any new effort to promote Mobile TV is likely to run into skepticism, in view of the adoption rate for subscription mobile TV so far and competition. MobiTV Inc., a company based in Emeryville, Calif., has been offering a service that uses conventional cellphones.

MobiTV has around 8 million mobile users. Flo TV, a new startup by Qualcomm, has not disclosed the number of mobile users. MobiTV uses a carrier's data network; Flo TV, a television spectrum and is considered as the desirable technology.

Mobile TV Has Bright Future

As it is with any new technology or service, the product must first find the need and then fulfill it in the most compelling and cost effective way. Here are four very powerful consumers need that, when marketed strategically, can change the mobile TV adoption here in the US and globally…

1. Demand for Mobile TV:

Every survey of mobile TV viewers that I’ve seen lists sports as one of the most popular categories. There are a huge number of sports fans around the world, obviously, and most — if not all — prefer to watch events live.

It’s a major reason why some people subscribe to mobile TV.

ESPN has become a mobile information powerhouse, including transmitting some 63 million mobile alerts every month and receiving more than nine million unique viewers on its mobile Web site, whose traffic is increasing 78 percent annually, according to FierceMobileContent.com

Here’s the link…


Smartphones are responsible for 70 percent of the mobile Web traffic, with BlackBerrys at the top of the list, the article says. But the Apple iPhone also represents a major opportunity. To this, now you can add the Qualcomm’s FLO TV available today [November 13th] at Amazon, Best Buy, Radio Shack and other select retailers. Just in case you missed the recent buzz about Qualcomm’s FLO TV, it is a pocket-sized personal mobile TV that is strictly for watching TV on the go.

FLO TV Personal Television, as the product is called, is expected to be offered by retailers this holiday season at a suggested price of $250. Qualcomm also will offer its own programming service, with packages expected to cost $5 to $15 a month.

This is what CES 2010 write-up says about Qualcomm's FLO TV...

"Qualcomm’s FLO handheld television offers users instant access to live and time-shifted content, including CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Fox News, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon. The $250 device weighs just over five ounces and features a 3.5-inch QVGA touch-screen display."

"Pro: FLO TV renders high-quality video without streaming, buffering, or downloading by tapping into an advanced national mobile television network. The FLO also features a long-life battery that provides over five hours of viewing time and approximately 300 hours on standby."

"Con: The FLO will most likely appeal only to television addicts. In addition, the handheld TV is competing against cheaper portable DVD players and netbooks capable of streaming Hulu and other digital content."

"Recommendation: Flo is the perfect choice for individuals who prefer to watch high-quality videos and live television shows without buffering delays."

Mobile TV is Huge Opportunity… but there are challenges:

2. Free Mobile TV:

Free mobile TV that is financially supported by advertising may help with the adoption rates. However, there is a strong case in favor of “pay for content” mobile TV…

John Zehr, ESPN’s digital media senior vice president of product and product development, views cellular “as a major growth area for us, and importantly, people seem more likely to pay for content on mobile than they are for the PC, so that opens up additional opportunities.”

John Fletcher, an analyst at the market-research firm SNL Kagan, estimates MobiTV subscribers will reach seven million this year, or about 2% of all U.S. cellphone users. He estimates FLO will have about 350,000 users, or a fraction of a percent.

Mr. Fletcher notes that Americans have tended to shy away from buying conventional portable TVs, which have the advantage of free content over FLO's paid offering.

But Bill Stone, FLO TV's president, says it offers an array of content that is available on cable TV but not over-the-air broadcasts. A bigger hurdle, he argues, is that people simply aren't aware of its offerings. By going direct to the consumer, FLO TV has "a lot more control over our destiny and our messaging," Mr. Stone said.

3. Dedicated Mobile TV:

One advantage for a dedicated device is that TVs tend to be a shared resource where cellphones are seen as personal, Mr. Stone added. Parents and kids, might hand a TV back and forth as different kinds of shows air, he said.

Qualcomm, though now known for chips, has had forays in hardware before. The San Diego-based company offered its own cellphones early in its history. Last November, Qualcomm announced that it had developed a design for a home computing device that uses its cellphone chips rather than PC components.

Now consider this…

A personal TV with 3.5 inch diagonal screen is great for personal viewing on the go and its dedicated feature also allows it to be shared between parents and kids, for example. However, the creator at Qualcomm may not realize the bigger picture impact of this dedicted Peronal TV on the traditional TVs in a household… if and when a laser pico projector is embedded for large screen HD viewing.

Can you imagine the impact of this tiny dedicated Personal TV/Projector that can offer all the functionality of a traditional large screen TV plus gives you mobility, transferability, private and public viewing option and at lower cost of overall ownership… that is cheaper to own and cheaper to operate.

Companies that manufacture large screen LCD and Plasma TVs should not only be concerned but really worry about their future. I don’t think these TV and glass plate manufacturers realize the future impact on their business model from faster adoption rates of dedicated mobile TVs that have embedded HD laser pico projectors.

4. Low Energy Cost of Operating Mobile TV:

Another aspect of dedicated Personal TV/Projector is the low power requirement of less than 5watts. PicoP display engine embedded in all things digital and built into Personal TVs and projectors may just extend our resources [financial and natural] and save the planet Earth from slow death. For example, the biggest energy guzzlers on this planet are big screen TVs.

News from October, 2009 says it all…

California appears poised to be first to ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs
The LosAngeles Times
By Marc Lifsher
October 14, 2009

“Reporting from Sacramento - The influential lobby group Consumer Electronics Assn. is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to dissuade California regulators from passing the nation's first ban on energy-hungry big-screen televisions.”

Here’s the link to the news…

The energy problem is not just in California… it’s a world-wide problem that needs addressing now before the planet destroys itself with too much “carbon footprint” or due to lack of “energy” to fuel and feed the world’s 6 billion population. Energy conservation, in a big way, is coming soon to every single US state… and it’s just the matter of time. Electric brown-outs and rationing is in our near future... that is if we, as a nation, do not make an aggressive and collective effort to conserve.

Talking about conservation...

The use of PicoP display engines in dedicated Personal TVs and projectors that give us high definition; large screen; always in focus display at a fraction of power [less than 5watts] may just be the answer to our worldwide energy problem… where a billion or so TVs suck the energy out of planet in exchange for a few hours of wide screen HD entertainment.

I’m sure you will agree that Microvision’s PicoP display technology is disruptive [of a mega proportion] and of a nature that could cause dramatic shift in “technology paradigm” and the “social paradigm” around the world.

Specifically, for the third world countries, for example, the technology paradigm shift would be…

“20inch energy guzzling TVs replaced with a Personal TV/Projector with external speakers, at HD resolution image projection of up to 80 inches on any surface…always in focus…at miniscule power usage of less than 5watts… and at about $599 US dollars.”

The Personal TV/Projector market in the developing countries is over 1 billion worldwide with an adoption rate ten times bigger than you can hope for the embedded Mobile phone market. Consider this…

• Total population of India and China is over 2.8 billion and growing. Considering an average household size of 5 [for India] and 4 [for China] you have about 650 million households. Ironically, the current Mobile phone market in India and China is also about 700 million. Assuming that the middle-class [only] can afford a Mobile phone then there are 700 million households that fall in the middle class category in India and China.

• Assuming that a household that can afford a mobile phone can certainly afford [and own] a Television. Therefore, in India and China there are at least 700 million TVs. The middle class in India and China is growing at a 10% rate per year. To this growth, you add the rest of the third world and Eastern European countries [for 300 million TVs] and you have potentially 1 billion TVs market world-wide that is looking for low power consuming, high resolution and large screen experience of a Personal TV/Projector.

If Microvision [and an OEM partner like Qualcomm] can mass produce a Personal TV/Projector with external speakers, at up to 80inch projection at HD resolution and consume no more than 5watts of power… you have a billion households worldwide as your potential customers… with an adoption rate of ten times higher than that of PicoP embedded Mobile phone. This is a huge market with tremendous financial rewards for the slow and steady hand that can deliver on the promise of Personal TV/Projector to the energy starved world of ours.

Not only that, the low power requirement of the Personal TV/Projector may just extend our resources [financial and natural] and save the planet earth from slow death.

Unlike the US and other western countries, electric power in highly populated countries like India, China, Eastern Europe and other third world countries is in extreme short supply. Not everyone has electricity and those that do have… face constant brown-outs and rationing. With the world energy supply dwindling, and costs rising dramatically, the electricity is a precious commodity.

Here’s a wish list Personal TV/Projector based on Microvision’s laser based PicoP display engine…

Personal Mobile TV/Projector Model 60:


• Low power requirement… less than 5watts for Personal TV/Projector

• DVD quality display larger than on a 60″ widescreen TV

• Easy setup — just plug, load and play

• No focus adjustment required

• Built-in handle and carrying case included

The ultimate Personal TV/Projector that delivers all the big-screen drama, sound and excitement you desire — just plug, load and play.

It works with any blank wall or screen and projects DVD movies larger than on a 60-inch widescreen TV.

Model 60 sets up easily— all you need is an electrical outlet. There are no additional cables or equipment to hook up. It features a convenient strap and soft, cushioned carrying case so you can take the show on the road. And, it delivers natural colors and bright, vibrant images with 1-chip, MEMS Laser technology.

It displays a 60-inch, widescreen image from just 5 feet away, or a 100-inch image from just 8 feet away.

SELLING FEATURES: Low power, high definition, always –in-focus, rich colors, short throw ratio, fast refresh, and wide screen multi-media experience.

The worldwide market for such a low power consuming laser based Personal Mobile TV/Projector is huge.

Microvision and Qualcomm have the technology and supply chain partners up and down the line. All they need is the vision and resolve to aggressively work together to pursue this market themselves or do it in collaboration with their global distribution and OEM partners.

While you are thinking about it...
Please go and vote your 25 votes, as many times as you like, for Microvision’s SHOWwx at the CES 2010 contest.

Here’s the link...

Anant Goel