Motorola Mobility has announced that it would showcase a video streaming device at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in las Vegas, NV in early January. The device would be able to stream videos to other mobile and Internet-connected devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.
The service would complement Motorola’s business in the cable television set-top box, of which the company is a dominant player. Such a service would allow users to watch the content that they had subscribed to as part of their cable TV offerings while on the go. Initially, Motorola will offer streaming service via a separate accessory, that would connect to set-top boxes, and over time Motorola would integrate the functionality into set-top boxes. Fees, whether free or or for a small charge, for the streaming service would be determined by the subscriber’s cable provider.
Motorola’s move in the cable space would be similar to what EchoStar is doing. As parent of the DISH Network, which provides satellite television service and rivals cable TV, EchoStar also owns Sling Media, a company that’s well known for its placeshifting service that would connect to cable boxes, satellite boxes, and TVs to stream whatever would be playing on your home TV to devices like BlackBerry smartphones, Androids, iPhones, iPads, Symbian phones, Macs, and PCs. Sling Media offers both the hardware and the software, and the service is slowly being integrated more closely with DISH Network’s offerings. A move into this space by Motorola could help cable companies erase some of the advantages gained by DISH with Sling integration.
Because of rights and licensing issues, Motorola is saying that placeshifting will initially only be available inside the home, so you can watch TV from your bedroom on a tablet, for instance, if you don’t have an actual TV in your room. Over time, though, placeshifting could move outside the home, like what Sling Media is already offering.
Motorola did not mention what platforms it would target, but a likely platform would be Android. Motorola already makes a number of Android phones and the company is known to be delivering an Android 3.0 tablet in the near future when the OS is ready.
Also, by embracing emerging technologies like smartphones and tablets, cable providers can leverage those technologies in their favor rather than view them as a threat. With competing offerings from Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Blockbuster Video on Demand services, tablets could potentially be viewed as a rival to paid TV.