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FLO TV Plans New Products, Tiered Subscriptions, Recording

3/23/2010 09:15:00 AM Eastern
Las Vegas - Qualcomm's FLO TV subsidiary is readying new products, developing its first tiered subscription options, and planning TV-program downloads to select FLO TV devices, the company told TWICE here at CTIA Wireless 2010.

In new products, the live mobile-TV service plans in four to six weeks to ship the Mophie-made Juice Pack TV, a first-of-its-kind accessory that adds FLO TV tuning to an iPhone and iPod Touch equipped with a free FLO TV app, said product management director Jeffrey Gattis. The Juice Pack TV takes the form of a protective case that incorporates FLO TV tuner, a battery to extend iPhone/Touch battery life by 70 percent to 80 percent, and Wi-Fi to send FLO TV broadcasts to the attached iPhone/Touch as well to up to three more iPhones and Touches equipped with the FLO TV app.

Flo TV is demonstrating the Juice Pack TV at the convention but hasn't revealed pricing, nor did the company reveal the names of the retail outlets that would get the initial shipments.

 Another new product, a FLO-equipped portable DVD player, is targeted for June shipment at a targeted suggested $199, Gattis said. Plans for it were announced at CES. It's not on display at the CTIA show.

Updates on Audiovox's previously announced plans to expand its selection of in-vehicle FLO TV products were unavailable.

In May or June, FLO TV will announce plans for multiple subscription tiers for its handheld Personal Television, for Audiovox-marketed in-vehicle FLO TV systems, and for the Mophie accessory, Gattis said. The options will provide consumers with less-expensive subscription options. For the Personal TV, a subscription costs $14.99/month for up to 20 channels, although six months of service are included in the Personal TV price, currently advertised by retailers at $199. A prepaid three-year subscription costs $8.99/month.

With the lower-priced subscriptions, FLO TV could offer limited-time access to all channels to acquaint consumers with them, Gattis said.

The optional subscription tiers aren't planned for FLO-equipped cellphones, whose subscription prices are set by cellular carriers.

In another development, FLO TV is targeting late-summer availability of download-and-store capability for its Personal Television, which incorporates 4GB of embedded memory, and for cellphones equipped with FLO TV tuner and memory. The download-and-store capability, which can be added to existing devices via a software update, won't be available for in-vehicle FLO TV systems because those systems lack memory storage.

Initially, the company might dedicate some of its bandwidth to push previously broadcast TV programs of its choice to FLO TV devices for local storage, Gattis said. In the future, the service could evolve to enable consumers to use a PC or a FLO device's Wi-Fi to select the programs they want to download and store, he noted.

The company hasn't decided whether to charge extra for the download capability.

Also at the show, FLO TV is displaying Lenovo's Skylight smartbook, due sometime late this year, with canned demonstrations of potential datacasting services, such as sports scores and Twitter feeds, related to live-TV programs. Other canned demos demonstrate the potential to use Wi-Fi or 3G cellular as a backchannel to deliver interactive services over the FLO network.

FLO TV expanded its 700MHz footprint nationwide last July after TV stations nationwide shut down their analog channels, and since then, the number of FLO-equipped cellphones has risen to 12, from about seven to nine about a year ago, a spokesperson said.

A Chrysler-brand dealer-installed FLO TV tuner for addition to Chrysler OEM entertainment systems became available in recent months, the company noted.

 
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