A few weeks after I reviewed the FLO TV hand-held personal television, the company has discontinued selling the device to consumers. I'm told service will continune until Spring 2011 for anyone subscribed to watching the personal units, but there's the chance it may end sooner.
Qualcomm, the parent company of FLO TV, "will make approprite refunds" if they discontinue service, the company said. Details about such a thing would be revealed before the plug is pulled. And it seems some FLO TV employees will lose their jobs as a result.
Qualcomm declined to disclose subscriber numbers.
There's no news about the FLO TV for mobile phones, or the FLO TV made for vehicles. As of now, nothing has changed for those devices. And the company worded it in such a way to leave open the option that it could go back on sale sometime.
The official statement from Qualcomm:
As we previously indicated in our July 2010 earnings call, we have been examining strategic opportunities for FLO TV. We have been engaging in conversations with a wide range of partners for both the network and the spectrum. We are seeing strong interest in using the FLO TV network or spectrum to capitalize on the growing imbalance between mobile data supply and demand, the growth of tablets, and consumer demand for high quality video and print content, and a richer user experience. While this process continues, we are suspending our direct to consumer sales of new devices. We anticipate we will maintain the network so that current direct to consumer subscribers will continue to receive FLO programming into Spring 2011. Service provided to handsets purchased through wireless operators is unaffected at this time. In the event of a discontinuance of service, FLO TV will make appropriate refunds, the details of which will be communicated prior to discontinuation. While we are working to redeploy impacted employees, we anticipate that there will be some layoffs.
I enjoyed testing device -- it worked well, but didn't have the rights to show NFL games. That was a major gripe among those who bought it as a way to tune into a game from anywhere. The company recently announced it's working on FLO TV for iPhone and Android devices.
Below is my review that ran a few weeks ago, and a comparison of it to Kula TV, a competitor that is taking a different approach by using streaming Internet channels. For me, I thought it just made more sense to have FLO TV on a phone rather than carry around another device. Perhaps that's one of the reasons Qualcomm discontinued it.