DEMO: How start-up gets TV to smartphones through 3G pipe

Not content to let Hulu and Netflix dominate the video streaming market, Bitbop is determined to break ground in the mobile world by creating a video streaming service tailored specifically for smartphones.

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The start-up was featured this week in Santa Clara, Calif., at DEMOFall 2010, an IDG Enterprise conference focused on emerging technologies.

Although 3G connectivity might not seem like the best way to stream video, Bitbop has an array of features to make watching video over 3G more feasible. First of all, unlike with Hulu, you don't have to stream television shows and can instead download them directly onto your phone if you so choose. This means that you can start downloading a show and then watch it in its entirety when it's finished without worries about jitter. Second, Bitbop can also snag data through Wi-Fi connectivity, giving it a second connectivity option in areas where 3G is weak.

From a payment standpoint, Bitbop is a subscription service that lets users get unlimited television shows for a flat rate of $9.99 per month. This flat fee covers both streams and direct downloads, so users won't be charged extra if they decide to store episodes on their phones. Eventually, says Bitbop Vice President of Marketing Reid Genauer, Bitbop users will be able to go beyond accessing their favorite shows and films and will be able to access live entertainment and games.

"In its current incarnation, Bitbop is mobile television," he says. "But we think of it more as a mobile content delivery system."

And like many other mobile applications, Bitbop will likely benefit greatly from the deployment of 4G mobile technologies such as WiMAX and LTE over the next couple of years. Since those 4G techs are designed specifically with mobile video streaming in mind, Bitbop could stand to be one of their biggest beneficiaries.

"4G technologies will enable higher resolution streams, connectivity will be better and user experience will be more fluid," says Genauer. "I don't know if the difference will be quite this dramatic, but in a lot of ways it's like the difference between dial-up and broadband."

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