Mobile telly may yet be set for the big time - research predicts the number of subscribers will jump from a niche 4.4 million today to 155.6 million by the end of 2012.
That's according to analyst Datamonitor - which predicts mobile TV's global subscriber base will swell to 65.6 million in 2010 and then more than double to 155.6 million by the end of 2012, a year-on-year growth rate of 66.2 per cent.
The region expected to be most switched on to pocket-sized screens is Asia Pacific, which is set to have 76.3 million subscribers by 2012, according to Datamonitor. This will be followed by Europe - with 42.7 million subscribers by 2012, a growth rate of 102 per cent year-on-year from 2006 - while North America is forecast to gain 35.6 million square-eyed mobile users.
Chris Khouri, associate media and broadcasting analyst at Datamonitor, told silicon.com the European mobile telly landscape is set for "strong growth" between 2009 and 2012 owing to the analogue to digital switch-over freeing up spectrum for carrier technologies such as DVB-H and MediaFLO.
Khouri added that a possible push by European commissioner for information society and media, Viviane Reding, to standardise carrier technologies could also help drive mobile TV's adoption.
But he said, when it comes to making mobile telly a success, the biggest issue is still consumer education - getting mobile users switched on to the notion of consuming tiny TV. Because, while web TV has taken off in Europe, mobile users in the region have not as yet been falling over themselves to get TV piped to their handsets.
Khouri stressed there must therefore be a big push from mobile operators to market the tech to consumers if it is to really take off. "In most cases, consumers need to 'see it to believe it' in order to see value in subscribing to a mobile broadcast TV service.
"Strong and innovative marketing campaigns, such as viral marketing or traveling exhibitions, will considerably aide in the mass-adoption of mobile broadcast TV services," he said in a statement.
When it comes to business models, Datamonitor sees monthly subscriptions likely to come out on top in Western Europe and North America - with a price of around $8 to $12 per month.
In related news, a report by analyst Informa Telecoms & Media predicts the mobile content and services market looks set to become a multi-billion dollar industry.
According to the report, half of revenues for the market - worth £661m in 2006 - come from the 25 to 34 age group. But it found a significant number of occasional consumers of mobile content - such as music and video clips - exist.
If these sporadic users can be encouraged to put their hands in their pockets regularly, said the analyst, then the potential is for mobile content revenues to increase by 150 per cent over a three-month period.