Telegent's market success with analog mobile TV tuner chips — shown in this clip of the company's field trial on the Shanghai Maglev bullet train — challenges accepted wisdom about the mobile TV market.
Since launching its first products in mid-2007, Telegent reports that it has shipped more than 20 million of its analog and analog/digital hybrid mobile TV receiver chips.
Even though that's about 1 percent of all the handsets sold worldwide in 2008, it's still a big number. The statistics not only make Telegent a market force to be reckoned with, they also bring into question accepted wisdom about the mobile TV market. You could call it backward industry disruption.
“By delivering a TV feature on handsets that leverages the existing broadcast infrastructure, Telegent has introduced a game-changing innovation that allows manufacturers and operators to provide consumers with local popular programming,” said Juniper Research principal analyst Windsor Holden. “The rapid uptake that Telegent has experienced validates the type of TV viewing experience that appeals to consumers on handsets.”
Telegent charted a contrarian course from the start.
"When we got started, every other company was focused on broadcast reception of newly developed digital TV standards," said Diana Jovin, Telegent VP of marketing. "It was believed it was impossible to use analog systems to receive broadcast TV on mobile devices — no chip was low enough power."
The opportunity was delivering a receiver that leveraged the worldwide investment in analog TV infrastructure — not to mention familiar programming — that was already in place.
Telegent beat the technical challenge by integrating the RF input with a new-generation digital signal processor, keeping power low without compromising picture quality.
The company's three single-chip CMOS receivers — two analog (NTSC, PAL, SECCAM) and one hybrid (DVB-H, DVB-T, NTSC, PAL) — include the TV tuner, demodulator, decoder, scaler and a custom DSP running Telegent's algorithms. The design cuts production costs, lowers operating power requirements and simplifies integration into handsets.
The engineering effort is clearly paying off in the developing world. “The ability of Telegent’s TV feature to receive local broadcasts appeals to consumers in our market and differentiates our offerings," said Gustavo Kitazono, director of strategic planning of Telefónica Móviles Perú. "The quality of the video and audio are excellent and the feature is well-received by Peruvian consumers.”
In Indonesia, HT Mobile launched its brand in 2007 with a focus on TV-capable handsets. “In less than two years, TV handsets have garnered approximately a 5 percent share in the Indonesia market,” said HT Mobile's CEO Nur Amin. “By focusing on live TV as a key differentiator, we have been able to leverage consumer demand for this feature into a leading market position.”The company expects to continue to expand its market share with products like its new DVB-T receiver chip for PCs, laptops and netbooks.