FLO TV, the subscription mobile-TV
service owned and operated by mobile phone chip giant Qualcomm, continued its
expansion onto new platforms at CES. Audiovox
showed a line of FLO TV-enabled devices, including both in-car receivers and a
small personal TV, and accessory firm Mophie announced a new battery-pack
device that will bring FLO TV to Apple's iPhone.
Audiovox has developed a FLO TV
hardware system for automobiles that consists of a receiver that is not visible
to the consumer, two remotes and an antenna that is the size of a computer
mouse and is mounted on the vehicle's roof for maximum signal strength. The
system will support both headrest and in-roof displays.
In December, Audiovox launched FLO
TV at the car dealer level and in an OE (original equipment) Mopar program with
Chrysler dealers. Audiovox President Tom Malone announced at CES that it will
launch a retail FLO TV in-car product in late January, first working with the
Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) and existing Audiovox
customers. Full retail distribution will come later this year.
The retail product will run $599,
including installation, and comes with six months of service. FLO TV
subscriptions, which have been selling for $14.99 per month for FLO-enabled
AT&T and Verizon phones, will run $199 per year for the in-car product. FLO
TV is currently selling a $119 yearly subscription for its new $249 Personal TV
product, which launched last fall, but that is price is expected to go up in
Audiovox has been selling its own
FLO-enabled Personal TV for two months in Best Buys and PC Richard stores.
"It's been a phenomenal product,"
said Malone, who introduced at CES a new portable DVD player with FLO
capability that will hit retail later this year, price still to be determined.
He said that Audiovox will also create strap-on kits for the new portable DVD
player to allow headrest mounting in vehicles.
Malone said that he was keeping an
eye on broadcasters' new ATSC M/H [Mobile DTV] system, which he sees as being
"complementary" to FLO. For now, he said that "FLO is starting to be a brand
that's getting into the culture of the U.S. consumer," a point he demonstrated
by showing a CNN clip in which a child told President Obama that he wanted a
FLO TV for Christmas.
FLO's other big CES news came from
Mophie, which currently sells add-on battery packs for Apple iPhones to boost
their power. FLO TV has reached a deal to integrate its FLO TV receiver chip
and antenna into a Mophie battery pack, which will actually transmit the FLO TV
programming to the device over Wi-Fi networking instead of using a physical
"It's the world's teeniest Wi-Fi
connection," said FLO TV Senior Director of Product Management Vicki Mealer,
who expects the Mophie device to hit the market this spring.