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Japan watches TV on iPhone

Posted: 12 Feb 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iPhone  mobile TV  TV chip 

Mobile TV is not a myth in Japan. Rather, consumers expect it as a standard feature in any brand-new handset.

Nearly 90 per cent of mobile handsets shipped in recent months in Japan already come with a mobile TV receiver, according to market researcher In-Stat.

Siano Mobile Silicon, a mobile digital TV chip supplier, has disclosed that its multi-standard mobile digital TV receiver chip is designed into the recently launched iPhone 3G accessory in Japan.

Called "TV & Battery," the new iPhone accessory unit—which looks like a small, sleek iPhone— the size of a business card—is "a charger to go" and a mobile TV receiver in one.

By connecting the two (iPhone 3G and "TV & Battery" unit) via cable, a user can recharge iPhone 3G. By connecting the two units via Wi-Fi, a user can also watch TV (supporting Japan's ISDB-T One-Seg TV broadcasting standard) on the iPhone 3G handset, while the accessory unit tucked into a purse or shirt pocket wirelessly sends received mobile digital TV signals to it.

The accessory unit incorporates Siano's mobile TV chip and Marvell Technology Group's Wi-Fi chip.

SoftBank BB and SoftBank Mobile, who designed the new "TV & Battery" accessory, may have found a way to get around one big hurdle every mobile operator in the world faces: Apple, and Apple alone, controls the iPhone design and nobody can tell Apple what to do.

But the Japanese operator, with Apple's blessing, came up with the accessory that squarely addresses iPhone 3G's two fundamental flaws in the local Japanese market: 1) iPhone 3G is more power-hungry than other handsets, and 2) it lacks a mobile TV receiver.

Siano Mobile now hopes to ride on the coat-tails of the iPhone boom worldwide, taking the SoftBank's "TV & Battery" unit to the global market.

When the chip company meets its potential clients at the Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona, Siano plans to pitch its mobile digital TV chip, also capable of receiving DVB-H and DVB-T, in a new "TV & Battery" accessory for iPhone 3G, should operators outside Japan decide to adopt this sort of accessory model for their iPhones.

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