FLO TV Trying to Control Fate with New Device

I'm a critic, in case you haven't guessed, of subscription-based mobile TV. Mobile video is gaining and consumers are increasingly watching video on smartphones. But paying for TV on mobile devices is a different matter.

Qualcomm's FLO TV (just like other mobile TV offerings) is facing an very difficult uphill battle, if not failing. Lackluster consumer adoption has forced the company in a new direction: launching its own device, called "FLO TV Personal Television." 

But this device costs $250 (with six months of TV for free, after that it costs). The device should flop pretty massively. Why? Here's why:

  • People don't want to carry a third device on the go. At home they'll just watch TV or use the Internet
  • The cost (they would need to give the device away with a subscription to really generate interest)
  • Smartphones offer better quality resolution on a device you already own
  • People still don't want to pay anything meaningful for mobile TV (though they will buy mobile as part of a package)

Engadget has a demo video

The winners in this space should be the cable TV providers, which could offer mobile as part of an upsell package or a retention plan, which they'll increasingly have to think about as more and more content alternatives emerge (e.g., Netflix).