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Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) stuck an IPTV 2.0 badge on its lapel today with the integration of social media applications from Facebook and Twitter, plus the addition of Internet video services, to its FiOS offering, a move it says will "bring the Web to the TV." (See Verizon Enhances FiOS.)

The social media capabilities, which are limited versions of the online applications, are part of Verizon's "Widget Bazaar Applications Marketplace," while access to user-generated online video will form the operator's "Internet Video Service."

Verizon also announced it will offer an open development platform for FiOS TV applications (or widgets), which will enable third-party developers to create new applications for its Bazaar.

Today's move, though, is some ways off from the carrier's long-term vision for FiOS. (See Verizon Broadcasts Its TV Visions.)

The carrier says it has worked with Facebook Connect, Twitter Inc. , ESPN, Veoh Networks Inc. , Blip.tv , and Dailymotion to "create a truly converged Internet-to-television experience that lets FiOS TV subscribers connect with others while watching TV, plus search and view a variety of online, personal PC-based videos on their television screens."

Verizon says FiOS TV subscribers, of which there were more than 2.2 million at the end of March, will be able to follow "Tweets related specifically to the program, movie or sporting event they are watching… They also can select from a list of top topics to view Tweets associated with today's hottest topics and trends, search for specific Tweets, and create and save a favorite-topics list."

FiOS TV subscribers with Facebook accounts, meanwhile, will be able to log in to Facebook through the FiOS TV Widget and update their status to show what they're watching, view their own photos, and view their friends' photos and status updates. It's not, though, the complete Facebook experience.

That, though, is a good thing, according to Heavy Reading senior analyst Adi Kishore, author of the recent report, "IPTV 2.0: Delivering the IP Promise."

"Replicating Facebook on the TV would be a bad idea. This offering is quite basic, but that's the right approach. It needs to be rolled out slowly and simply. Verizon is doing the right thing, and they seem to have done a good job with the interfaces they've developed," says Kishore.

For that reason, he's also not too disappointed that the Internet video service -- which will allow FiOS customers who subscribe to the Home Media DVR service to search (using keywords and "most watched" menus) and view user-generated videos -- includes content from just three video-sharing sites: blip.tv, Dailymotion, and Veoh. (What's worth noting, though, is that the service does not include YouTube, which had been part of a beta test shown to journalists last October -- see Verizon Tests Internet Video on FiOS.)

Kishore thinks bringing online video onto the TV set is now regarded as the natural course to take: Multiple studies have shown people want to watch video content on their TV sets, rather than on any other devices, he notes.

He would, though, have liked the Internet video service to be incorporated into Verizon's video-on-demand service: He notes that anyone looking to check out the full range of on-demand video on FiOS would need to navigate up and down multiple menus rather than be able to access it all in the one location.

Kishore says that, potentially, the most exciting part of today's announcement is the Open Development Platform for FiOS TV. Verizon will make its software development kit (SDK), which uses a programming language called Lua, available soon for developers to create new widgets in much the same way they do for Facebook and the iPhone apps store. Verizon notes that some of these applications will be free, while others will command a fee.

Overall, Kishore is positive about Verizon's move. "The whole point of deploying IPTV is so the carriers can develop and offer something superior to the cable and satellite operators, which are the established players. Carriers need to do some cool things, and this hits the spot -- this is what you'd expect from IPTV."

He also expects other operators to follow Verizon's lead and adopt the same sort of model. "I'd be surprised if AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) doesn't announce something similar very soon," says the Heavy Reading man.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading


Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:00:37 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

According to the cable grapevine, TWC, Comcast, Cox, and the U.K.'s Virgin Media are among cable MSOs that are developing hybrid QAM/IP set-tops/gateways that share some traits found in VZ's QIP boxes.  The big question, though, is WHEN these will actually arrive on the scene.  Not all that long ago I was told that the TWC version is still more than a year away...but I wonder if VZ's move today might needle TWC and the other MSOs to kick it into another gear.


Not entirely discounting what's going on with tru2way, MSOs have a variety of ways to bring Web-sourced video and apps to the TV screen, but some of the biggies seem to be endorsing the gateway concept over some of the other options. But they're also giving some attention to vendors like ActiveVideo and ClearLeap that let MSOs to bring in IP-based video services and apps over their legacy MPEG-based digital architectures.


 


 

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:00:37 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

Yes, we have noted that in the past and even leave Verizon out of some IPTV lists because it's not running what we would call a 'real' IPTV infrastructure. THis, though, is about the applications and service development of a traditional telco stepping into new territory - calll it what you will (Web 2.0, IPTV 2.0 etc) 


Seems to me, and this just my own opinion, that Verizon has broken cover here with an early example of the 'convergence' we've been hearing about for what seems like decades, albeit with a small step.


But this can't be in any way easy to manage -- this must have involved a lot of behind-the-scenes development with multiple interfaces and OSSs. And if the apps dev program takes off, then that would be a potentially critical short-term advantage to have, wouldn't it?


You could argue that, in the long term, hardly any network operator/service provider has much of a differentiator over the other -- BUT a successful first mover advantage could be critical in gaining further customers and 'stickiness' in the short- to  medium-term.


Of course it could all go terribly wrong for Verizon too, as the Facebook and Twitter users will no doubt pour some level of scorn on this early effort, and could break it, rather than help make it  -- but I think this development needs to be viewed in the short-term, not the long-term.


And if we look short-term, if this wouldn't be a big deal for the MSOs to do too, then can we expect the cable companies to follow suit shortly?


Just my view tho.


Ray

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:00:37 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

 


You guys do realize that FiOS runs the bulk of its broadcast video over RF spectrum just like Cable.  In essence, they are using the PON bandwidth to provide some IP video features.  Nothing a cable company couldn't do if it build IP connectivity into its STBs.  So, other than being ahead of cable - not sure how this can be a long term differentiator.


 


seven


 

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:00:36 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

 


Ray/Jeff,


 


Should be interesting to see how effective the 3rd party app bit is.  I think large companies (both Cable and Telco) need to realize that their liklihood of being "cool" is quite low.  So, if they can find a way to get some interesting things done then it is an advantage.  Time to Market on the App thing might be a long term advantage (iTunes and iPhone being the example).


 


Wonder when Android is going to show up on these STBs?


 


seven


 

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:00:35 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

From a revenue generation and pareto improvement perspective I'd expect thousands of home shopping networks from an IPTV infrastructure (EBAY meets infomercial.)  VZ could setup a colo to host the video servers.  The challenge is the number of FiOS subscribers may still be too small. 


FB and Twitter don't bring much of anything to the FiOS table.   Those apps are more about connectivity (hundreds of millions) and less about bandwidth.


I'd also expect some home control products (security, etc.) that end users would pay for.  You don't need massive audiences to sell those.


 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:00:35 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

No doubt. Seems like everyone's trying to do their own app store in the path of Apple's big success.  There's even been some talk about a tru2way apps store, though that's viewed (even by the MSOs) as an ideal, way out in the future  scenario at this pont.


I'm curious about the Android idea too. Maybe with the right middleware, an Android OS in a STB might be feasible.  For now, Moto's already denied the existence of an Android OS in that "au" box.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:00:34 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

Also, VZ could probably figure out how to help transition all the stored analog stuff to digital.  (The lifetime of things like Video 8 tape is said to be 15 years which is reaching end of life)  Widen the upload pipe exclusively to their colos.  Setup some regional sites that can do mass conversions (think of it like the old days of dropping your film for development).  Keep the FiOS subscribers connnections slow to compeititors hosting sites.  There can be an encoding and hosting fee, though they'd have to be reasonably priced, i.e. no connectivity pricing for a bw app/service.


Digital Pickle is an example of a service that should be part of the base FiOS package in my opinion.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:00:34 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS

re: "Seems like everyone's trying to do their own app store in the path of Apple's big success"


The key is in monetizing the data itself.  The app is merely a way to proprietarize someone's data.  Apps are free.  Access to your data (which has value) costs.  That'd be my rule of thumb.

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 4:00:32 PM
re: Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS No way can Verizon and ATT start getting into over the top applications. These folks are dino's.
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