Operator to launch MobiTV streaming HDMI stick in first half of this year

LAS VEGAS--MobiTV said an operator will launch its white-label HDMI dongle, the MobiTV Connect stick, sometime in the first half of this year. The company declined to provide any further details on the operator that is planning to launch the device, including whether it's a wireless carrier and whether the launch will be in the United States.

MobiTV has been pushing its streaming stick for close to a year now--the company in February last year said the device could be used by operators to provide a TV Everywhere solution. In the intervening months, a number of other companies have joined Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromecast in the streaming stick market, including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Roku. Now, however, MobiTV appears to be gearing the device as an accessory for mobile phone users that will allow them to stream video and mobile phone games to their TVs.

In a demonstration here on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show, MobiTV executives described the product as a "mobile first" device that could help operators sell mobile games, video services and other digital goodies to customers who wish to view such content on their TVs. MobiTV would share in the revenues generated by the sale of that content.

"With us it's a service-first approach," explained Cedric Fernandes, MobiTV's CTO, noting that the stick is relatively easy to set up and use, and it can display whatever video content an operator has the rights to distribute. Importantly, he said MobiTV will allow users to easily browse content by the name of the show or movie, or by the channel or network that content is available from. He said that's a better user experience than requiring users to drill down into the content offered by different providers to find something to watch, as he said some other streaming stick providers do.

Interestingly, the stick also supports mobile games by allowing users to control the games on their phone and view the games on their TV. However, users can only play mobile games that MobiTV supports because the company must lay technology over the game so that users can access game controls on their phone while viewing the game on their TV screen. In a demonstration of the game "Jetpack Joyride," a demo phone displayed large buttons and a navigation area much like a laptop's touchpad, while the TV displayed the game itself. MobiTV explained that game makers don't need to modify their games for the service to work, but MobiTV must input the game into its system in order to allow users to play it. Rick Herman, MobiTV's chief strategy officer, noted that this setup will allow MobiTV's customers to potentially sell compatible games and derive revenues from those sales.

To be clear, Amazon's Fire TV Stick also supports mobile gaming functions, but game developers themselves must ensure their games work with the device.

"The market (for digital TV services) is really opening up," Herman said.

MobiTV currently sells its over-the-top streaming video platform to a number of telecom operators via a white-label scenario. In the United States, the company powers the mobile TV products of T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), Sprint (NYSE: S) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T).

For its stick, MobiTV is using Brightstar for distribution, Amlogic for the device's chipset, and Jabil Circuit to build the device.

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