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HP: Phones not a viable platform for video streaming

Hewlett-Packard won't be bringing 3G support to any of its smart phones until at least 2007. It cites the costs associated with the service, coupled with the fact that 3G's killer app -- TV and video streaming -- isn't yet viable on mobile phones as the primary reasons for its decision.


Chin-Teik SEE with HP's new smart phones

Hewlett-Packard (HP) won't be bringing 3G support to any of its smart phones until at least 2007. It cites the costs associated with the service, coupled with the fact that 3G's killer app -- TV and video streaming -- isn't yet viable on mobile phones as the primary reasons for its decision.

"3G is still only occupying 3% of the world pie," HP's Vice-President for Consumer Products and Mobile Business Group in the Asia-Pacific region, Chin-Teik SEE, told CNET.com.au at the company's "magical mobility launch" event in Hong Kong last week.

"It's a nascent market," he added.

These comments were made in response to questions regarding HP's decision to leave out 3G support from its latest smart phone products, the iPAQ rw6800 and the iPAQ hw6900.

The primary benefit of 3G lies in its increased bandwidth. The technology can reach speeds of up to 384kbps, which is higher than some ADSL connections and head and shoulders above its predecessor's -- GSM-based GPRS -- bandwidth ceiling of 50kbps. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Hutchison all run 3G networks, and there's a huge selection of 3G handsets to choose from as well.

Naturally, the most logical application of 3G is TV and video streaming on the go, but HP's Chin-Teik isn't convinced of the viability of such an application.

"The screen is too small for Desperate Housewives… [and] you won't be watching a full football or cricket match," Chin-Teik told CNET.com.au.

Cost is also a contributing factor to the relatively low take-up of 3G. "It's still relatively expensive from a subscription standpoint and from a hardware standpoint," he said.

HP could work to solve the first issue by increasing the size of the screens on its smart phones, but Chin-Teik says "this screen is [already] reasonably big for a handheld." Rather, HP's mobile entertainment initiative is "more looking to bring notebooks down [in size]."

HP has confirmed that it will introduce integrated 3G support in future notebook products, and Chin-Teik was far more optimistic about the prospects of notebook 3G than mobile phone 3G.

"This will be the next phase of notebook mobility," he said.

Dell and Lenovo have both already announced partnerships with Vodafone to integrate 3G wireless broadband support into their upcoming notebook products. HP is currently in talks with all of the major Australian networks in the hope of reaching a similar agreement, but has yet to make a decision as to which it will side with.

CNET.com.au's Asher Moses travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of HP.