Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to 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
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