NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorola Inc, which has recently lost cell phone market share, is introducing a mobile device for playing live television to expand its reach in portable consumer electronics.
Motorola said on Thursday that its DH01 device, to be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week, will also play on-demand video clips and programs saved on digital video recorders.
It is the first foray by the world’s No. 3 maker of cell phones into devices solely devoted to mobile TV, an emerging service that wireless carriers hope will boost revenue as phone call prices fall.
Motorola and rivals Nokia, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics already offer phones with live TV. Apple Inc.’s popular iPod and iPhone let users download videos, but does not support live TV.
“I think we’ll see more of these types of devices,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. She said it was not yet clear whether consumers would prefer to carry a stand-alone mobile TV, along with a simpler cell phone, or an advanced device that combines both TV and calling services.
Motorola said the device, set for commercial launch this month, is expected to be sold by television broadcasters, consumer electronics retailers and wireless carriers. It did not name any specific vendors.
The DH01 has a 4.3 inch video screen, a feature that lets users pause live TV for up to five minutes and a battery supporting four hours of playback. Viewers can add memory cards storing up to 90 minutes of video.
The new device is compatible with DVBH, a broadcast technology standard for mobile devices that is backed by handset makers like Nokia and by European regulators.
Services based on DVBH are available in countries such as Italy and Finland, but it’s not clear when they will launch elsewhere in Europe due to a lack of wireless airwave licenses.
“It’s going to take a few years for DVBH to take off in Europe,” said Oppenheimer analyst Lawrence Harris.
Harris said Motorola was likely able to develop the mobile TV device without much additional investment, as its set-top division already has video expertise.
The No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, began offering services last year using MediaFlo technology, a DVBH rival that was developed by Qualcomm Inc.
Motorola also plans to unveil new television set-top boxes at CES and a device designed to connect desktop computers to services based on WiMax, an emerging wireless technology.
Wireless products have become increasingly prominent at CES, the world’s premier consumer electronics show which is set to attract 140,000 attendees and showcase everything from 100-inch TVs to sophisticated car navigation systems.
Motorola shares closed down 2 cents at $16.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill