Is MobiTV a New Webvan in the Making?

GigaOM and PaidContent report that MobiTV raised another significant round of money ($30 million), bringing the company’s outside funding total to over $100 million. MobiTV has a number of deals and, according to GigaOM, a million direct subscribers. For example, MobiTV is behind AT&T’s broadband/PC TV effort.

If my memory serves me, Webvan raised over $1 billion from investors to build a massive distribution infrastructure only to go out of business because it “misunderestimated” (as George Bush might say) consumer behavior and other factors. There was too ambitious a plan, too many costs and a fundamental misreading of the consumer marketplace. It’s too bad because it was a good service.

Given all the money now flooding into MobiTV and the company’s emphasis on delivering video over wireless phones, I’m lead to make the comparison.

While many consumers do seem willing to watch full-length programming on their PCs today, although it’s a clear minority, that cannot equally be said about mobile phones. A number of 2006 consumer studies by RBC Capital Markets, AOL and the LA Times have indicated very limited interest in watching video (certainly full-length programs/videos) on cellphone screens.

Of course as devices improve and the mobile TV experience gets better all this might change. But right now the picture’s pretty clear . ..

Related: Michael Arrington surmises this investment really isn’t about mobile TV but rather about broadband/PC TV. YouTube to go mobile next year.


11 Responses to “Is MobiTV a New Webvan in the Making?”

  1. Mobile Video: Yes or No? « Screenwerk Says:

    […] iMedia today has a longish article on mobile video. The author cites a Jupiter survey showing relatively high consumer demand (44% interested) for mobile video. Other surveys indicate little or no demand for mobile video, even among teens. There are a few issues here: consumer demand and adoption of mobile video (which implicates the user experience) and the business model (subscription vs. pre-roll). Right now, however, basic adoption is the big challenge for those promoting mobile video and related business models. I’d have to say that while I remain something of a skeptic, I was really moved to re-examine my thinking after seeing the clarity of the images on that tiny iPod screen. I now think that at some point — probably farther out than most people anticipate — mobile video will be a fairly mainstream phenomenon. […]

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