Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 18/1/2006My turn to slip the surly bonds of work and traipse off into town — this time to the ultra-humane environment of Charlotte Street, the Fitzrovian haunt of many a posh media company. In an understatedly swanky modern hotel, IPWireless is displaying its wares.

Wednesday 18/1/2006

My turn to slip the surly bonds of work and traipse off into town — this time to the ultra-humane environment of Charlotte Street, the Fitzrovian haunt of many a posh media company. In an understatedly swanky modern hotel, IPWireless is displaying its wares. At the back of the room, an entire mobile phone base station is whirring away; at the front, a wide variety of portable devices are playing television programmes. This is the launch of TDtv, which IPWireless claims is the best way to put telly in your pocket.

It's an impressive story, especially when compared with O2's identically themed press conference the day before. In O2's favour, it was reporting the results of a live trial across an entire city while IPWireless was here merely promising trials to come. In every other respect, IPWireless swept the board. O2's favoured system needs bandwidth that doesn't yet exist — IPWireless has its all mapped out, with tons more to come. O2 needs a brand new transmission network. IPWireless' slots neatly in with existing 3G systems. O2's system won't scale nearly as well across territories as IP Wireless'.

Time will tell which one works best — if mobile TV turns out to be what people want anyway — but at the moment, assuming there aren't any regulatory issues to darken the joyful picture painted by IPWireless, then I'd put my money on them.

However, there is much fun to be had. O2's live trial had automatic monitoring of what people were watching and also got them to keep a diary. This showed a peculiar usage pattern: everyone had expected people to watch their tiny telly while commuting on trains or buses — but no. Most of the watching took place at home, in the office or at college. While this may reflect on the Oxonian work ethic, it perhaps more closely mirrors the way people read newspapers and books. Which, as the O2 presenter coyly admitted, includes a considerable amount of time in the one place where you can be sure not to be interrupted.

This revelation cheers me up. It also catches the imagination of my Silicon buddy, Jo Best, who is with me at the O2 launch and decides this is the best theme for her story headline. So we indulge in a bit of scatological brainstorming. BBC Twos? Pee-ality TV? Mobile TV — It Knows Its Crap?

In the end, we settle on Bog Standard Telly. "I'm not really surprised at the results of the survey", I tell Jo. "After all, O2 did ask the triallists to keep a log."

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