AT&T's new mobile TV service: a me-too offering

AT&T's new mobile TV service: a me-too offering

Could AT&T differentiate any less? The operator finally launched its long-awaited mobile TV service using Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology, and the offering doesn't look much different than Verizon Wireless' V Cast Mobile TV offering.

Current Analysis points out that AT&T's entry packages of $13 and $15 for the service mirror that of Verizon's service. And when MediaFLO service is bundled in with AT&T's unlimited Web package, the price is actually $5 more than a comparable bundle from Verizon.

At this point, the only differentiators from Verizon's offering appear to be the fact that AT&T's mobile TV service has a larger footprint than Verizon's plus two extra exclusive channels: Sony Pictures' PIX channel and CNN Mobile Live. Moreover, device price points are expensive at $300 for the LG Vu and $200 for the Samsung Access--hardly devices that will spur big adoption numbers.  

Qualcomm can't be too excited about the rollout given the fact that CEO Paul Jacobs indicated in March that the take-up rates for MediaFLO were disappointing. How can subscriber take-up rates change dramatically when Verizon's competitor has a nearly identical offering?

Maybe AT&T will put more marketing dollars behind the service than Verizon has, but that still won't address the real reasons I believe people aren't gobbling up MediaFLO services. It costs more than $10 a month to watch and requires a special expensive phone, of which there are few models. As the economy continues to falter, you have to wonder whether customers will be willing to fork over the extra money for this on-the-go entertainment.

It may be time for Qualcomm to step out on its own, without the help of carriers, to jump-start the market by courting other industries, such as the automobile industry, to offer mobile TV on alternative devices at cheaper prices. -Lynnette