Just a few months after predicting the adoption of mobile TV as a mainstream service by 2010, a new survey of mobile consumers by Gartner has found little consumer enthusiasm for the medium in Europe.

Earlier in the year Gartner predicted that mobile TV would provide an additional revenue stream for operators, with the market growing from 38m users in 2007 to 356m in 2010.

But a new survey by the same firm has found that only 5% of Europeans are likely to watch mobile TV in the next 12 months.

According to Gartner back in March:

“TV broadcasting will reach 133 million subscribers by 2010 – due in the main to the growing availability of broadcast-enabled phones – with Japan as the region leading the way followed by Western Europe.”

The new Gartner study has found that there is widespread consumer apathy among European mobile users, so does the earlier research still stand up?

Well, Gartner called us to say that they’re sticking by it, suggesting that operators will bundle mobile TV to force it into the mainstream, despite the disinterest among consumers. They might well be right about the bundling.

I remain unconvinced that mobile TV will provide any significant ’additional revenue streams’ for operators. Ultimately this is all about usage, and if people don’t want to use something they’re unlikely to pay for it. Perhaps consumer sentiment will change, but for me the issues are more fundamental.

The main problem with mobile TV is the quality of the viewing experience offered on a tiny mobile screen, the bandwidth considerations, and the fact that most people simply don’t have time to watch TV on mobile.

When using their phones, people want things in bitesized snippets, delivered quickly. And while that works with video online to some degree, anybody familiar with using YouTube Mobile via a handset will know that the payoff is a video the size of a postage stamp. It isn’t the ideal platform for TV, and I can wait until I’m in front of my laptop before visiting YouTube (which, incidentally, I don’t pay anything to use)

The best mobile apps appear to be needs-based, and it seems like most people just don’t need mobile video. They prefer to watch their favourite TV shows on an expensive widescreen TV from the comfort of their favourite chair.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? 

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