AT&T provided a glimpse into the future of IPTV at TelcoTV today. Peter Hill, AT&T’s vice president of video and converged services for AT&T Labs demonstrated several applications that could prove to provide competitive differentiation over cable and satellite. IPTV’s knock lately is that despite the hype, it’s been a “me too service.” Should some of the applications demonstrated today prove commercially viable, the aforementioned IPTV knock may begin to change.
Some of the more interesting applications include the integration of wireless services, including video sharing and Family Finder. Video sharing allows subscribers to share live video being captured by a video phone with a television utilizing a U-verse connected set top box. The television displays the video being captured by the phone. The integration of an application like this with social networking may have promise. Another interesting application, Family Finder, demonstrated the ability to remotely “track” an AT&T wireless subscriber. Family Finder displays on a television, the location and movement on a map, of an AT&T wireless subscriber who has a GPS enabled phone. The obvious application is to “track” family members, namely children. The privacy concerns withstanding, seems like a very compelling application. Hill demonstrated other applications and offered insight into many more. It’s somewhat refreshing to see some of these applications live at a conference like TelcoTV. Often times conferences are too much talk and too little demonstration. I certainly recognize that a demonstration is a long way from a commercial launch. But IPTV proponents have been somewhat starved for applications that will provide true differentiation. Perhaps the news from AT&T today will begin to change that.