Mobile TV, merchandising take stage at CTIA panel

Just when I thought the industry was part of the hype cycle surrounding mobile TV, Mercer Management revealed the results of a survey of 300 wireless executives. Seven out of 10 executives said video would result in just $5 of additional ARPU for operators, and nine out of 10 said they believed there was little or no chance that the majority of users wold adopt the technology within three years.

Mercer's survey set the stage for the panel that followed consisting of carrier executives. Of course carrier executives dodged any notion of being skeptical about anything, and Sprint Nextel's Paul Reddick, vice president of business development and product innovation, bristled. "If you looked at the numbers we look at, it seems nuts. There is so much to be positive about," he said. And France's Orange gave a glimpse of what its mobile TV viewers are doing: About 30 percent of the carrier's mobile broadband customers are active TV users, spending between 6 and 10 euros per month and viewing about 30 minutes per month.

All operators, however, agreed that discovery of services is a problem. "We've got a Home Depot worth of of stuff to sell and a hotdog cart worth of space to sell it in," lamented Rob Hyatt, Cingular Wireless' executive director. So that "personalization" buzzword popped up again. Carriers say they are working on streamlining the user interface and working on ways to better merchandise the plethora of content so that consumers can actually find it.

- Stay tuned to our continuing coverage of the CTIA I.T. show.