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FiOS Ain't the iPhone

6:00 PM -- Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced enhancements to its Twitter and Facebook widgets for FiOS today. (See Verizon: No Need for Facebook, Twitter Fans to Leave Couch.) But really, the occasion was also a chance for Verizon to reiterate the whole social-widget strategy, including the pending applications store analogous to the iPhone's.

Of course, today's press release also touts how cool Verizon must be for doing all this. Here's the lede: "Social networkers who love Twitter and Facebook will really love FiOS TV..."

Stop the presses!

I suppose it's keen to be able to send Tweets from the TV (although Verizon's optional pre-written Tweets sound like a ticket to Block City). And when The Diffusion Group (TDG) surveyed users, it found 80 percent interested in using these widgets on TV.

"We were stunned at the responses. People really get this, because the iPhone has shown them what they can really do with these pieces of technology," analyst Colin Dixon says.

That's nice validation for Verizon's widget developers, but it doesn't mean instant success for a FiOS app store.

"They'll find there are a lot of customers who love it. They'll have a tougher time recruiting third-party designers," Dixon says.

That's because FiOS is a unique network that has limited reach: just 2.5 million users, with growth constrained by geography. Contrast that with the globe-conquering iPhone, which has 9 million users on the AT&T network alone. (See AT&T's Q2 Profit Lowered by iPhone Launch and Mapping the iPhone.)

Sure, some applications aren't that hard to write. Still, if you're a software developer, which platform would you spend your time on?

"When you own your own architecture, and it's completely different from everybody else's architecture, how many people are you going to get?" Dixon says. "If Verizon does their app store, and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) does their app store, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) does their app store, it's not interesting. They're going to be islands."

("Comcast" was thrown out there hypothetically, by the way. Because cable's broadband and TV connections are separate, Dixon doesn't expect any cable app stores to show up any time soon.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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