Mobile TV. The two words conjure visions of incredibly unsexy old handsets with antennas jutting out of them. Despite Asia embracing those often bulky phone/TV hybrid devices, they never really achieved a saturation point anywhere else. Little wonder why: Most broadcasters didn’t embrace them, and the few that did realized quickly that audiences weren’t interested in battery drain and antenna reception issues. Then streaming video took off, squelching whatever promise remained for this niche.
Then again, maybe not. A new iOS app from startup Vinson has come along to challenge this notion. Can a company — even one co-founded by Layar’s founder and ex-CEO Raimo Van der Klein — make mobile television relevant again? You be the judge.
The new mobile OTT (Over The Top) TV app offers a more genuine television-watching experience than typical streaming video apps (think Hulu, HBO Go and Xfinity, among others), and trumps offerings like EyeTV and Sling by not requiring pricey external hardware. The Vinson app delivers live television programming, a full TV guide and PVR/time-shifting, as well as videos on demand. The app also takes “social” and cranks it up a notch: In addition to tweeting or sharing what you’re watching from within the app, Vinson enables users to see what pals are enjoying and view content along with them, so friends can watch TV together remotely.
Vinson is showing the application off at Mobile World Congress, hoping to appeal to broadcasters, content aggregators and content distributors, who could use the app to power their own platform or service packages. One of the first customers is a joint venture of Belgium broadcasters, who intend to use it to power its mobile TV solution, “Stievie.”
The demo looks pretty hot. Take a peep and let us know what you think. Could this be the next evolution of mobile television? Is there still a place for it, even in this streaming-obsessed world? Weigh in below.