Verizon Breaks Out Of Your Living Room

Say hello to Viewdini.

Last year, Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) sent some pretty clear signals that it wanted to break the TV experience away from your hard-wired living room. This week, Big Red took the next logical step by announcing a mobile video portal that delivers all the couch-potato goodness you might want right to your Verizon smartphone.

The Viewdini moniker may draw smirks and remind investors of the ill-fated Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) Qwikster idea. But the name is actually pretty apt: The Viewdini portal breaks free from the restraints of traditional content delivery like a modern-day Houdini getting out of his straitjacket and chains.

In many ways, this portal looks like it might deliver the central content library that Google wanted to create in its Google TV platform, or Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) in the Apple TV box. The difference is, Verizon takes the show on the road too. Thanks to its FiOS TV services, Verizon also has the media-industry connections that Google and Verizon never had (outside of the iTunes connection to the music industry).

The first wave of Viewdini content will include all the usual suspects: Hulu Plus, Comcast Xfinity, and Netflix. Verizon's own FiOS will join the fray "soon," with other cable operators and TV station websites to be announced later.

The idea is simple: Search or browse for whatever you're in the mood to watch and Viewdini points you to a handful of sources for that show. Some sources, like Netflix and Xfinity, require subscriptions or one-off pay-per-view charges; others, such as TV station websites, might be available for free.

This is only for Verizon's stable of 4G LTE Android devices at first, though capability for "other operating systems" (read: iPhones and maybe Windows Phone gadgets) is coming soon. No word yet on whether Viewdini is designed to work over Wi-Fi links or exclusively over data-capped LTE connections.

For content providers like Netflix and Hulu, Viewdini becomes yet another potentially useful ally. Watching long-form movies and hours of TV shows on a tiny handheld screen might not add a whole lot of value for these guys, but every little bit helps. And Verizon gains a customer-friendly feature to set the company apart from AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) . This falls a bit short of decoupling FiOS subscription plans from the fiber-optic cable snaking up to your house, but it's a start.

All things considered, I call this "progress." Smart move, Big Red.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google and Netflix and has created a bull call spread on Netflix, but he holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2012, at 4:02 PM, dlchase24 wrote:

    "Verizon also has the media-industry connections that Google and Verizon never had"

    D'oh. Someone forgot to proofread.

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2012, at 10:52 PM, conradsands wrote:

    Maybe consumers will finally notice that AT&T and Verizon = The Most Expensive Wireless Plans in America. We know where Verizon and AT&T (both in the top 5 for corporate lobbying) get all that money to run commercials 24x7, pay out huge “fat cat” executive bonuses and hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to try to push the U.S. market into a wireless industry duopoly -- the American consumer. This is how AT&T and Verizon fashion themselves as brilliant … with their political use of money.

    According to the report “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10,” two of the 25 companies with the largest total tax subsidies were AT&T at #2 ($14.5 billion) and Verizon at #3 ($12.3 billion). Also, there were 30 corporations that paid less than nothing in aggregate federal income taxes over the same period. These 30 companies, whose pretax U.S. profits totaled $160 billion over the three years, included Verizon. The report states the laws that allow this were not enacted in a vacuum, but rather were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying, threats and campaign support.

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