With the imminent launch of a 3G iPhone, analysts say Californian gadget manufacturer Apple has an opportunity to make a significant impact on the mobile TV market.

While there is considerable speculation about what to expect from the next generation iPhone ahead of CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco next week, 3G is a given and the device is already punching above its weight in terms of wifi-based TV and video consumption.

Although many operators are offering mobile TV services using 3G streaming, these services are constrained by lack of coverage, relatively poor quality of service and 3G capacity limitations. Meanwhile, research from Analysys Mason shows that many iPhone owners have accessed TV and video content with greater frequency than subscribers using other types of mobile handsets. “With added 3G capability, the iPhone will bring highly attractive attributes to the mobile TV market,” the analyst said, highlighting multiple methods of delivering TV and video content, including sideloading, indoor wifi and 3G cellular data access

Mark Heath, analyst with Analysys Mason, said, “The iPhone could become the mobile video delivery device of choice for many consumers, by providing a compelling mobile TV and video proposition before mobile broadcasting networks, such as DVB-H become widely available.”

The iPhone’s opportunity would be buoyed through access to a rapidly increasing range of TV and video content provided by Apple or specifically optimised for the device. By May, the iTunes Store had a catalogue of 600 TV programmes and over 1500 films and, by April, iTunes had sold 125 million TV programmes.