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Dispatch From Barcelona: Mobile Video Is Here

From videoconferencing to video chat to mobile TV, mobile devices can now do it all
MobiTV is solving a slightly different problem: getting actual TV content onto mobile handsets and tablets. The company has been at it since early 2000. It works largely through carriers--in fact, company spokespeople said they would prefer if the product was completely white labeled, just part of the offerings from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. MobiTV has deals with each of those carriers and others. For example, Verizon's NFL mobile package is from MobiTV.

MobiTV uses a variety of intelligent schemes to provide both live and video-on-demand streams, including the ability to auto-detect the end user's bandwidth (and even adjust when that bandwidth changes, say from Wi-Fi to 3G if the person is suddenly on the go), and the user's device (including adjusting for screen size). In 2010, when sales of high-end smartphones exploded, the number of MobiTV subscribers also took off -- 15 million in the U.S.

The company also provides an app on iTunes, and at Mobile World Congress it demonstrated an Android version as well. One of the challenges, of course, is getting enough content to make paying for the service worthwhile. Content partners such as Fox, MSNBC, and ESPN certainly helps on the news part of that equation.

MobiTV's latest announcement concerns the elusive idea of convergence -- that is, being able to play your TV content on multiple devices, switching between them. MobiTV will have a product in that market later this year; the company was demonstrating it in Barcelona. You can see a video demonstration of it directly below, as well as the company's newest MobiNow product, available for Apple iOS and Android devices. Not only can those devices get live and on-demand video programming, but social features are built in as well.

During the past holiday season, 3D video was a hot topic of conversation, a conversation that was accelerated at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, thanks to a host of new technologies that eliminate 3D glasses. While 3D is still a novelty for most, the advancements are happening quickly. LG demonstrated its newest Optimus 3D phone, capable of capturing and displaying 3D video.

Of course, video requires a hefty bit of processing. LG's 3D capture, for instance, requires dedicated hardware. As more features, like video, start to find their way into our mobile lives, the chips that power our devices get so sophisticated, it boggles the mind. More on the underlying hardware in my next dispatch from Mobile World Congress.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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