TVs, tablets, smartphones… although size matters, a screen is a screen is a screen. So, when will WiwWiwWiw (What I want, When I want, Where I want) video viewing actually happen? Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has taken a nice first step into the future with FiOS TV for the iPad. It's an app that lets FiOS customers watch video in their homes through their FiOS broadband connections. After about a week of using the app I can honestly say, "Good effort." That may not be high praise, but I am super excited by the possibilities.
Verizon says its ultimate goal is to let customers have a WiwWiwWiw experience outside the home. It is collaborating with its content partners and Madison Avenue to make it happen. This is such a big step that I can forgive all the things that the app doesn't do and simply concentrate on how awesome it actually is and how super-awesome it is going to be when it evolves.
"With tablets and smart TVs becoming a standard - rather than an exception - in homes across America right now, we're enriching the value of FiOS TV at the right time for our customers," said Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, Director of Product Development for FiOS TV. "We believe that we're introducing these new FiOS TV enhancements at exactly the right moment - just as tablet computers and smart TVs are going mainstream with dramatically growing sales nationwide. The ability to watch live TV channels anywhere in your home, anytime you wish, is very cool."
According to the Verizon FiOS Innovation Index: Borderless Lifestyle Survey, US adults are using a variety of devices to regularly watch video content: 80 percent use TVs, 40 percent use laptops, 19 percent use smartphones, 16 percent use game consoles and 15 percent currently use tablets and depend on a second screen within their home when watching live events on the TV. The number of tablet users is expected to surge based on the Index finding that 12 percent of adults plan to purchase or upgrade a tablet in the next three months.
Krishnaswamy goes on to say, "The living room is going borderless for FiOS customers. With FiOS TV on the iPad, we're removing another wall that limited our customers' ability to watch the TV shows they love - anytime, in any room - throughout their home. FiOS TV is the service for a truly borderless TV entertainment experience throughout the home."
Back to the app! It's called FiOS Mobile, which doesn't make much sense since you can't take it much further than your backyard before it simply becomes a program guide and a remote DVR programming device. That said, when you are in WiFi range of your FiOS router, you can watch an interesting array of video content on your iPad.
The menu is graphical, so you "point to your choice," a lot like ordering food off the Denny's menu. Either Verizon is expecting very young children to use this app or it just is dynamic thumbnail happy. Either way, you can choose from content such as, HLN, BBC World News, ID, Military Channel, H2, OWN, Style, DIY, MTV2 and more. There are select series from USA, SCI, Animal Planet, all the Viacom Media Networks, etc.
There's a nice nav bar at the bottom of the app with soft buttons for "What's Hot," "TV Listings," "Video On Demand," and "DVR."
There is nothing remarkable about this app and, if you have a TV set in your FiOS-enabled home, the only reason you might consider downloading it is for remote DVR control and TV listings. But - and this is a big but - if you use it to watch TV over WiFi in your home, you will see the future. FiOS TV for iPad is a window to how the television business is going to ultimately work. People are absolutely going to take their TVs with them and this app is a real first step.
How will the business change when people are watching both live and on demand content on iPad Minis in the backs of cabs, on public transportation or while hanging out around town? How dramatically different will video advertising have to be to take advantage of addressability, targeting and location on the fly? What does it mean to "own content" in a world of LTE clouds?
I love what this app represents. It is awesome and it makes me smile. It also sends shivers of fear down my spine. For those of us in the advanced media biz, there's a lot of work to do. Thanks, Verizon, for an awesome first look at the future of television. It's a great first step and it's super cool!