Yesterday’s rumor was true: FLO TV is discontinuing its direct-to-consumer service. Actually, it’s not that straightforward. Owner Qualcomm says it’s suspending sales of devices and considering its options, but that service will continue through the spring of 2011 and that it’ll issue refunds if appropriate. To quote an old bit Bob Newhart bit, the service has died…but not quite.
Tag Archives | FLO TV
PaidContent.org’s Staci Kramer is reporting that Qualcomm is shutting down the direct-to-consumer version of FLO TV, its mobile TV service that provides a broadcast-like experience on the FLO TV Personal TV gadget, in-car systems, and a handful of smartphones. Judging from the FLO TV site, she’s right: It seems to have been scrubbed of all “where to buy” information except for that pertaining to Verizon and AT&T phones, which remain available for now.
FLO TV was–can we speak of it in the past tense yet?–a classic example of the right product at the wrong time. Judged on its merits, it was quite impressive: It delivered live TV with no hiccups, and Qualcomm lined up an impressive roster of big-name content partners. If it had been around a decade ago, it might have been an iPod-like hit. But in the age of plentiful Internet video on smartphones, it felt pricey and a tad retro. And one neat device that could have made it more appealing to more people–Mophie’s FLO TV jacket for iPhones, which was announced in January at CES–hasn’t shipped, and now presumably never will.
Hulu Mobile. It doesn’t actually exist, but when and if Hulu arrives on cell phones, it’s going to have a huge audience. And in the meantime, you might want to check out Bitbop, a new TV-on-phones service which was announced yesterday at the CTIA Wireless show. (It’s part of Fox Mobile, whose parent company, News Corporation, is part owner of Hulu.)
Bitbop will offer TV shows (and, later, movies) from Fox, NBC Universal, Discovery, and other sources as both streams and downloads, via an app that will be available in iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry versions. It’s a for-pay service with a Netflix-like business model: Ten bucks a month gets you all the content you can watch. The company plans to make the apps and service available within the next few weeks.
I got a quick peek at Bitbop at the MobileFocus press event in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, and it was enough to leave me wanting to try it out, at least. Also at MobileFocus was another pocketable TV product which I first saw at CES in January, and which still hasn’t shipped: Mophie’s Juice Pack TV for the iPhone. It’s a version of the company’s Juice Pack Air case/battery pack with a built-in tuner for Qualcomm’s FLO TV service.