Your cell phone is set to become a glorified TV "clicker." Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is developing two technologies that will allow subscribers to channel surf on their cell phones, enabling them to watch real-time, high-quality multimedia content -- though presumably not while driving.

Last month, I noted that mobile TV was coming soon as a consortium of cell-phone manufacturers, including Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Motorola (NYSE:MOT), and Sony Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERICY), were collaborating on mobile-broadcast specifications. On that same wavelength, Qualcomm announced two CDMA technologies designed to deliver video and audio to a large number of users simultaneously.

Streaming content is possible over cell phones now, and a few companies have already rolled out some services, such as Sony's (NYSE:SNE) user-defined and predefined StreamMan service. The problem with such services is twofold. First, it's expensive to deliver multimedia content to individual subscribers, particularly in a large subscriber base. Second, cellular subscribers prefer to access multimedia content the same way they access it on their personal computer: Download it now and watch it later.

Qualcomm's innovations make it more cost-effective for network operators to broadcast multimedia content to large numbers of subscribers. I'll admit to not understanding what an orthogonal frequency division multiplex (OFDM) waveform is, but I kind of get that it permits distribution of multimedia broadcasts that don't chew up battery power, an important criteria for cell-phone users. The technologies reserve time slots at all cells in a region and then broadcast one packet of data to multiple users simultaneously. This is an improvement on packets being sent to a single user at a time. Still, network operators with capacity issues might not want to congest cells with streaming content.

An In-Stat/MDR study says that while streaming content is of high interest to cell-phone users, downloading remains the primary goal. Yet that could be because the industry is still nascent and streaming content has not been widely available. As services become more prevalent, more people may want to access it. But it seems that people may be more likely to be interested in services such as TiVo's (NASDAQ:TIVO) ToGo that allow subscribers to move television programming to other devices, including cell phones.

Mobile "infotainment" may indeed be growing into a $7 billion industry, as Alexander Resources suggests, but it's not certain that channel surfing between MTV and reruns of "I Love Lucy" will be part of it.

TiVo is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Subscribe to the newsletter today and get a six-month money-back guarantee.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey remembers when he didn't need to have instant communication 24 hours a day. He does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.