Verizon has been trialing a broadband wireline phone for over a year now. We first highlighted it in Jan 2008. Tentatively code named the ‘Verizon Hub,’ the broadband connected device offers a variety of features, including 1) web widgets focused on traffic, weather, news, etc.; 2) a digital ‘corkboard’ for leaving notes and multimedia messages for family; 3) family calendars; 4) Internet access; 5) connectivity with FiOS and Verizon Wireless products; and 6) a digital photo frame. The blogosphere is reporting that Verizon may be launching the new device to its mass markets on February 1.
When the Hub does launch, Verizon will be joining AT&T and Embarq, both of whom have already launched similar devices. All are looking for ways to add value to a wireline phone with these devices. Unfortunately for them, the economy has turned severely sour, making $100 – $200 purchases (Hub pricing has not been revealed) for fancy landline phones, even broadband enabled ones, a very difficult sell. Perhaps significant purchasing subsidies could help. My sense is that once people start using these devices, they probably will find value in them. Enough value to hang on to a landline? Maybe. But first, you have to get them in the door, and the price seems unrealistically high for today’s reality.