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Will Americans Adopt Mobile TV in 2009?

The upcoming switchover to all-digital television broadcasting in the U.S. and other major countries will create an unprecedented opportunity for mobile TV services, according to a new market study by ABI Research.

While mobile broadcast TV was pioneered in Japan and South Korea, following the switchover traditional and mobile TV broadcasters and cellular operators in many regions will launch mobile TV services that are forecast to attract over 500 million viewers by 2013.

There's an important distinction to draw between content streamed to mobile handsets over cellular networks, and free-to-air broadcasting to mobile devices equipped with mobile TV tuners.

"Mobile TV users have yet to value the medium properly because it has not been validated as an independent product and service," says senior analyst Jeff Orr. "It has been primarily offered at the end of a long list of more preferred cellular services. However, Mobile TV will soon be positioned in a more proper role as an extension of traditional broadcast TV services."

Mobile TV viewing will not solely be on cellular handsets, but also on MIDs, and automotive infotainment systems. Once the content is available and the services launched, mobile TV will enable more classes of mobile devices that are natural fits for mobile entertainment.

Who will benefit? Content developers and providers; device vendors, especially MID and cellular handset OEMs; and service providers.

Other winners: multimedia and security software, semiconductor and network infrastructure vendors. Once mobile TV users adopt the service at high growth levels, advertisers will also climb on board to target the significant number of new mobile viewers.

ABI Research believes the timing of the market's emergence is good. As 2009 progresses, signs of economic optimism may emerge, and allow the fledgling industry to establish a foothold before the holiday shopping season.

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