Verizon FiOS: to Beat 'em, First Join 'em

   on January 13 2012 10:24 AM
Verizon president McAdam talks on stage with Verizon CEO Seidenberg and Consumer Electronics Association President Shapiro on the opening day of the CES in Las Vegas
Verizon president and COO Lowell McAdam (L) talks on stage with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg (R) and Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro (C) after the Verizon keynote address on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc is pushing hard to move its FiOS TV service beyond the set-top box and onto the latest gadgets - from TVs and tablets to gaming consoles - to fend off competition from online video services such as Netflix Inc, Amazon Inc and Apple's Inc iTunes.

Verizon plans to extend its service to dozens and dozens of devices in connections that let users stream Web video alongside FiOS content.the next 12 to 24 months, Joe Ambeault, director of product management for FiOS TV, told Reuters in an intereview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The company announced deals this week to get its service onto smart TVs from LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics Co. Unlike traditional televisions, these sets - which Verizon is testing - have Internet

Verizon, which had already forged a FiOS deal with Microsoft Corp for its Xbox gaming console, is also negotiating with content providers to allow consumers to access its TV service on devices such as tablets outside the home.

Such partnerships could encourage cost-conscious consumers to end their FiOS TV subscriptions, but Ambeault noted he had no choice, but to compete with Web-based services.

I've a whole new set of competitors, Ambeault said, adding that his embrace of these devices is proactive. It's too late after people are already fleeing.

Another big source of competition could be iTunes. Apple is widely expected to launch a living-room television as soon as this year. Ambeault does not know if or when that might happen, but if it does, he hopes to make sure FiOS content is available on such a product.

We would love to integrate our content onto the Apple TV, he said. My alternative is to do nothing and ignore the device, and you go there anyway as a consumer ... or be on that device and have a fighting chance and keep your business.

Ambeault also noted that, if FiOS is associated with innovative hardware, it can help keep consumers interested. He cited a feature on the upcoming LG TV, which allows the user to control the TV by waving a magic wand remote control instead of using traditional controls.

To help ensure FiOS is the service consumers associate with such innovation, Ambeault is planning joint advertising with LG, similar to the way Verizon Wireless features its latest phones in advertisements for its wireless service.

If I'm there first, I've a higher likelihood of winning. If I'm not on that device, I'm out of here, he added.

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