Report: Mobile TV to gain millions

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BRUSSELS -- Mobile TV subscribers will grow to 462 million by 2012, driven in large part by the expansion of 3G networks and flat-rate plans for mobile video, according to new research published Thursday.

The report, by industry analysts ABI Research, said the build-out of mobile video delivery networks and a rise in the amount of available content will also contribute to the market's growth.

"Mobile operators' sustained investment in video delivery will continue to be rewarded by subscribers' growing adoption rates, particularly as they upgrade to new video-capable handsets," said ABI research director Mike Wolf. "Consumers are being increasingly enticed by better experiences through more powerful and larger screens as well as by a widening array of subscription options."

The report said the Asia-Pacific region was the overall leader in the adoption of mobile video services, with subscribers growing from 24 million in 2007 to more than 260 million by 2012.

Japan and South Korea are both leading markets in mobile video services and will remain high penetration territories, it said. And China and India will both contribute to the total thanks to very large subscriber populations, even though the overall penetration of video services will remain much lower than in more technologically-advanced countries.

"South Korea and Japan will continue to lead worldwide, while some countries in Western Europe will also continue to see strong growth," Wolf said. "North America will also see some strong uptake as more services become available in 2008 with the launch of AT&T's MediaFLO service, the continued expansion of Verizon Wireless' MediaFLO subscriber base, and the growth of on-demand mobile video services."

The ABI report tries to take account of issues such as common standards in its forecast, although the proliferation of different technologies in different regions has so far held back a number of handset makers and content providers from major investments in mobile TV.

A separate forecast, last November by Infonetics Research said global sales of mobile video phones would more than double over the four years until 2010, rising from $58 billion in 2006 to nearly $125 billion by 2010.
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