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AT&T's iPhone Trick

Phil Harvey
6/20/2008

9:45 AM -- You don't really get a feel for IPTV's potential until you see the iPhone trick.

That trick, as demonstrated during a visit to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Atlanta IPTV lab last week, involves taking an iPhone, connecting to a U-verse home network, and using it as a remote control via a Web interface found at a specific URL or network address.

On the TV, your viewing choices suddenly change from a standard TV menu to the iPhone user's preset favorite channel list. On the DVR, the iPhone user's recorded shows were listed first and take priority while he's in control.

Conceivably, the colors and look and feel of the U-verse guide could have changed, depending on the iPhone user's preferences. Maybe, via the TV menu, you could retrieve some voice mail messages from your home or cell phone and reply to the calls using your iPhone and a Webcam attached to your set-top.

Anyway, the iPhone trick sufficed to make a larger point: When your TV remote is suddenly a WiFi-connected device with a high-resolution touch-screen, you forget, for a minute, about being locked in to a particular way of doing things.

I saw a laptop, for instance, that also acted as a remote control, but it was more of an entertainment console, with channel guides, DVR control, programming previews and other extras that took advantage of the screen size and processing power. Not an everyday function I'd ever use, but a good illustration of the concept that the IP in IPTV really does matter.

I should state here that AT&T has no expressed plans to create a remote control app for the iPhone or the laptop. Nor has it said it will allow folks to check voice mail via U-verse TV menus. And, no, it hasn't provided personalized channel guides for every member of a household. Mileage may vary. Close cover before striking. Etc.

My point: The iPhone trick is a demo and nothing more. Yet.

But all the possibilities -- and the discussions of possibilities -- suggest something good for AT&T in particular and telcos in general, as we've been hearing for the past few years at NXTcomm and other industry shows: If Internet protocol is fully exploited, some new features and billable services become transparent software upgrades. Some of the Web's most engaging activities can make their way to the living room, if the timing is right and if the business model makes sense.

Those are some big "ifs."

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading

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optodoofus
optodoofus
12/5/2012 | 3:38:06 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
Neat trick. But, as you point out, it is just a trick. Is there money to be made by offering such a service? Doubtful. It's neat, but not valuable. It doesn't add any real value to the television experience, and so I predict no one will pay more for it. And if no one will pay for it, why would AT&T productize it? To make their service more sticky? Maybe, but again, when another service provider offers TV for 10% less, people will drop their iphone remote control in a heartbeat (at least the people who pay the bills will; teenagers don't pay the bills so their preferences don't count).

This is the underlying problem with all this Web 2.0 stuff. It's neat but not valuable.

optodoofus
DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 3:38:05 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
Great points. And, yes, a demo is a demo.

But here's a bigger issue: How are these carriers going on an IPTV platform going to stand out from one another?

Stevery
Stevery
12/5/2012 | 3:38:05 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
Ug, sorry for the formating.
Note to LR: Can we PLEASE get html anchors? It's not exactly 2008 technology.

This is the underlying problem with all this Web 2.0 stuff. It's neat but not valuable.

What?! Just who are you to disagree with Microsoft's valuation of Facebook?

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007...

/sarcasm
Stevery
Stevery
12/5/2012 | 3:38:05 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
This is the underlying problem with all this Web 2.0 stuff. It's neat but not valuable.

What?! Just who are you to disagree with Microsoft's valuation of Facebook?

/sarcasm
rjmcmahon
rjmcmahon
12/5/2012 | 3:38:04 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
re "How are these carriers going on an IPTV platform going to stand out from one another?"

I think it's sorta like most businesses in that the distributors that figure out how to pay the suppliers while pocketing a few pennies for themselves will win in the end. For revenue driven unicast TV I'd focus in on things like enabling the home shopping network mashed up with amway feed with Balco's steroids. In this case the ads and the content are one in the same and the rampant piracy doesn't hurt anything.
desiEngineer
desiEngineer
12/5/2012 | 3:37:56 PM
re: AT&T's iPhone Trick
Neat tricks are good for making a business sticky. I still won't get off emacs now that I figured out so many neat little tricks (all of which and more can be done with any dev platform today).

-desi
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