Telecommunications, Automotive and Market Research

More than 15 years in the mobile telecommunications industry and an industry analyst since 1998.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Video services come to smartphones, and vice-versa. AT&T U-Verse on Windows Phone 7

Now that they are delivering Windows Phone 7 smartphones, AT&T has decided to include their U-Verse application, which is already available on Android and BlackBerry phones (U-Verse is AT&T's home video service that delivers tv programming over a broadband connection.)

If I look through the press release for the exciting parts, it seems to be two-fold: First, Windows Phone 7 users can get U-Verse applications even if they're not current U-Verse customers.  Second, you can use it for an entire month at no charge! After that, it's 10 bucks a month for non-subscribers and U-Verse customers who pay more than $80/month get it for free.

So what does the U-Verse mobile application do, exactly?  I'm sure it makes a lot of sense when you're using it, but it's kind of hard to describe.

  • Program the digital video recorder remotely to record new programs or delete recorded shows
  • View the channel guide and program descriptions
  • Download and view popular TV programs

About that last item... yes, you can download TV programs to your Windows Phone 7, iPhone, Android or BlackBerry phone... with some limitations.  First of all, it's not the entire U-Verse channel lineup that's available, it's a smattering of popular network shows. And second,  you have to download the shows over Wi-Fi, even though the phone is also connected to AT&T's fast 3G network. After that, you can watch the episode for about two weeks, whereupon it will "expire" and be deleted from your device.

The content is fairly limited, with episodes from about 50 shows from ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, Disney, Animal Planet, TLC, and Discovery Channel. You can see Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Cougar Town, Scrubs, Lost plus other shows like Phineas & Ferb, Whale Wars, and Mythbusters.

What does it all mean? What comes through loud and clear is that even the mobile operators are considering TV viewing a routine part of the cellphone experience. Obviously, there are cross-marketing opportunities for AT&T to push U-Verse to mobile users who aren't getting it yet. Plus there's the upsell to existing consumers ("The application is free if you upgrade to the U300 level").

It's vaguely disappointing, though. I'd rather see something like "view every U-Verse channel you have now from any location at any time over any network."

It's not that.

But it's a step in the right direction.

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