Qualcomm loses its FLO

Toward the end of last year, Qualcomm was full of promises for the burgeoning mobile TV market and its Media Forward Link Only (FLO) technology. Yet so far, the market has received less than positive reviews, and we have yet to see another MediaFLO handset be unveiled.

Back in October, when Qualcomm doubled its number of handsets on the market, going from two to four, the industry had cause to hope for more. Since then, however, the company’s guarantee that we’d have more options from various vendors by last year’s holiday season was never fulfilled. Qualcomm isn’t the only one breaking its promises, either. AT&T also said they would launch a MediaFLO-powered mobile TV handset in the fourth quarter of last year. Once again, it is February, and there are still no signs of it.

This lack of progress comes amidst rumors that Qualcomm may be looking to sell its MediaFLO division, based on the appointment of a new senior vice president and its track record for entering and leaving its mobile handset business. The company has been losing money on its investment in MediaFLO, and it is time to reevaluate why.

You could chalk this up to a lackluster North American market for mobile TV, which wouldn’t be entirely untrue. But the fact remains: how can the market improve when customers have so few choices on which explore mobile TV? You can hardly expect demand to increase when the product isn’t even on customers’ radar screens. Having more choice and better quality models is a good place for Qualcomm to start. If they can’t deliver this as promised, then selling off MediaFLO to a company that will invest the energy to make it a success may be the smartest move.

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