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China Mobile claims 50 million users of TV on the phone


Published: 16 December, 2011


China Mobile said this week that it currently has 50 million mobile video subscribers. We have learned from past official counts in China that they are invariably high, either because they include other technologies, not just the CMMB digital broadcast TV, or because they include everyone that has ever signed for it, even if they have cancelled.

Regardless China Mobile's claims that its broadcast mobile TV has been growing at 150% per annum fits in with our projected numbers for China's CMMB, although we'd say that our polls of local suppliers point to a number closer to 40 million devices which are watching live TV, and that does NOT count handsets which are able to watch analog TV signals, and there are millions of those too. We think that China Mobile also counts streaming On-demand video as part of the service.

But how can a country specify its own technology, bring it to market, attract terminal makers to the cause, and deliver even 40 million people TV on the phone, when Europe which began the process so much earlier (10 years ago) cannot get a single country to a successful implementation of mobile broadcast TV?

Japan has done it, Korea has done it, China is now up with them, and even the US has its broadcasters backing a single, inexpensive standard (so it may happen there), while Europe (which invented broadcast mobile TV) has barely got off the ground? OK, the choice of the wrong technology in DVB-H has something to do with it, but if we hear just one more person saying "But do people want to watch video on their phones," we will scream, it is the single most important tablet application imaginable and still, Europe has no technology to enable it. All video to tablets in Europe is expected to travel as VoD over Wifi.

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