Bitbop Streaming TV for Smartphones Goes Live, But on BlackBerries First

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The Hulu-like Bitbop streaming TV service for smartphones is now live in the US, but unlike a lot of multimedia entertainment apps, its here for BlackBerry RIM devices before Droids or iPhones.

For a $10 monthly fee, Bitbop will let you watch full-length TV shows from the likes of Fox, CBS, NBC, Discovery, and Comedy Central — including programs such as Family Guy, 3D Rock, and Mythbusters on your smartphone.You can either view the TV shows as streaming video or download them. 3G and Wi-Fi connections are both supported.

Bitbop will next be available for Android phones. Fox Mobile Group (FMG), which runs the service, hasnt yet decided whether further platforms will even include the iPhone or Windows Phone, for example, said Reid Genauer, FMGs VP of marketing, during an interview at Pepcoms Digital Experience press event in New York City last night.

Why did Bitbop opt to step out first with BlackBerry rather than on some other platform, anyway? BlackBerries have been underutilized, and we feel that Bitbop is a transformative application, Genauer maintained. Bitbop gives BlackBerries a chance to show what they can do.

Traditionally, sales of RIM devices have been strongest on the business side. Conversely, he acknowledged, Bitbop is geared unabashedly at consumer entertainment — although theres certainly no reason why you couldnt take an hour off at lunch-time to catch a couple of shows on your phone while youre away on a business trip.

Multimedia entertainment and business are the two big drivers for smartphones, according to Genauer. Indeed, Apple and Google have been adding new business-oriented apps and features to their phones, but RIM has been working in the opposite direction.

Being delivered in stores this week, Apples iPhone 4 includes a set of so-called enterprise capabilities designed for document encryption and VPN security, server-based remote management, and corporate custom application development, for example.

Just launched yesterday, Verizons Droid X has business-related features such as support for both Microsoft Exchange and G-mail; remote password control and wipe through Exchange server; push delivery of email; filter widgets for differentiating work and home mail; corporate directory and global look-up; a unified calendar for enterprises, and sync with Google Calendar.

Meanwhile, RIM has made a strong effort recently to spark development of third-party apps for consumers, with thousands of apps created in this category by now, said Tyler Lessard, VP Global Alliance and Developer Relations at RIM, in an earlier interview.

FMG, this particular BlackBerry developer, is even planning a series of special promotions this summer to support RIMs mobile phone platform. Although the beta period has ended, you can now get a trial subscription on the Bitbop Web site that lets you access three shows over seven days free of charge.

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