When it comes to mobile technology, it seems that major carriers and phone manufacturers around the world have a common mantra: “they do it in Japan and Korea, therefore …” The statement applies when trying to convince other industry players that a given service/feature will have huge adoption rates in the US or other countries. The phrases sound like this: “The Japanese play 3 hours of video games a day on their handsets, and spend $1023 per month for social networking services and content, so we need to bring this to the US as soon as possible!” For the most part, it’s a lot of malarky (is that really a word?). Why? Well, if let’s say you have one country/culture in which 2-4 hours per day of train-based travel is the norm. And you have another one in which the average commute is done by car and is under an hour. Sounds like you don’t have much of a match, doesn’t it? So a few years back when the discussions of mobile TV first started blossoming in the US, I was personally a bit of a skeptic. And then I helped design and build SlingPlayer Mobile, and I saw the light.
I’ve used SPM (as we were known to call it) to kill time on the tarmac. I’ve programmed my DVR from the long lines at Starbucks. I even watched some of the NHL Playoffs last year on my commutes home (yes, my wife drove, I’m not that bad). Funny thing is, I was once quoted as saying “Nobody’s going to watch the entire Super Bowl on a cell phone.” And while I stand by that statement, for this year’s game I did have my PPC6700 showing the game live in the bathroom so nobody would have to miss a minute’s action (go Stillers!).
As was announced today, Europeans (starting in the UK, spreading outwards in 2006) can soon have the same joy. Instead of Heroes they’ll be watching Eastenders. Instead of the Superbowl, they’ll do the World Cup (in a few years). Instead of The Office, they’ll do.. oh. well… The Office. Hmm.
In an interesting twist, Sling Media launched SlingPlayer Mobile in Europe with a mobile operator, 3. Now 3 is going for some kind of quintuple or octuple-play by bundling a few other options and services with their new X-Series offering (live Webcast tomorrow), and you can read more details about it over at the SlingCommunity site (or Unwired or Gadgetell) . Seems like an interesting play, but I’ve gotten spoiled I guess, since I’m a Windows Mobile user, and the extra services are all available to me on the 6700 I use.
The other interesting element here is this is the first time the Slingbox is viewable from a non-Windows Mobile device. The handsets for the launch are the Nokia N73 and the Sony Ericsson W950i. I think it’ll be interesting to see the performance comparisons as more and more users adopt the service.
Good thing the Internet rumor mill didn’t go too far after Blake mentioned something about a mobile carrier at last week’s Web 2.0 show. Check out speculation at Unwired, MocoNews, and Engadget. It doesn’t take too many hops in the blogosphere to go from “idle comment” to “solid fact” these days. Either way, congrats to Sling and 3 for putting together a great relationship that brings smart value-added services to their customer bases.
Well, time for me to get back to playing 3D interactive multiplayer video games on my mobile phone with built-in GPS, DVR, MP3, and waffle-making capabilities. I’ve got a long way to go to get to Akihabara.