Samsung, LG eyes patent profit from mobile TVs
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are expecting huge intellectual property income as mobile televisions gain popularity in the United States and other major markets, industry sources said Sunday.
The two, which are the world’s leading providers of flat-screen televisions, already have a wealth of key patents across broadcasting platforms for mobile televisions.
The technologies are aimed at enabling television stations and telecommunications companies to beam digital content to devices such as smartphones, touch-screen tablets and other portable devices.
The patents will allow the companies to reap ``millions of dollars” in royalties, according to sources. The rapid growth of Web-based video services Hulu and Netflix is expected to accelerate the transition toward mobile televisions.
Samsung already has an agreement with U.S. mobile-phone carrier MetroPCS to release a television-enabled smartphone, dubbed Galaxy TV, which supports the Advanced Televisions Systems Committee Mobile Handheld (ATSC-M/H) standards.
ATSC-M/H has been the American standard for mobile digital television since 2009 and LG has been investing heavily in this technology as well.
``The first Samsung smartphone based on ATSC-M/H will be released sometime in November this year after networking tests. MetroPCS is aiming to differentiate its product lineup by releasing the smartphone,’’ a senior executive said, adding the device will use Google’s Android software and sport a telescoping antenna for better reception.
``There are talks with other carriers as well over our television-enabled smartphones, although many wireless operators are still in wait-and-see mode, believing it won’t be too late for them to get in after mobile television proves a hit.’’
A senior LG executive said that Samsung and LG’s ATSC-M/H patents will allow the companies to get $4 to $5 in royalties for each of their television-enabled handsets.
``So if the mobile television market takes off the way we hope, that’s an extra several millions dollars for us,’’ he said.
Around 120 broadcasters in 46 U.S. cities are preparing to launch mobile television services. However, just like another up-and-coming broadcasting platform, three dimensional (3D) television, there are challenges ahead.
The lack of specialized content will be a concern and whether consumers will tune in enough to create a sustainable demand from advertisers remains a question. Korea’s financially-struggling digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) services provide a poor precedent.
And while smaller operators like MetroPCS will need to differentiate, leading U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless have yet to ask Samsung and LG for television-enabled handsets.
The Korean electronics makers are expressing optimism nonetheless.
``Mobile Content Venture (MCV), the coalition of TV stations for mobile digital TVs, will start its service from the latter half of this year. That’s why Samsung plans to release the phone at that time,’’ said the Samsung official.
Fox, NBC, Univision, Telemundo, ION Television and about a dozen large station ownership groups are MCV’s members. Their members have been installing mobile digital TV transmission equipment at 72 stations in 32 markets, which reach half of the U.S. population, according to Erik Moreno, a senior vice president at Fox Networks Group and the co-general manager of the coalition.