In a surprisingly ingenious move for a phone company, AT&T has announced that it plans to offer connectivity between the Apple iPhone and its U-Verse Internet and television products. Reuters reports that AT&T CTO John Donavon as saying that, “We’re looking at the whole landscape, of what people use, and what’s out there in the home,” adding that some of the services may be launched by the end of the year.
According to the Reuters story, “Consumers will be able to listen to their voice mails on their screens, and download shows from their digital video recorders onto their iPhones,” and, “They also will be able to use their iPhones to navigate channels like a normal remote control, and for entertainment purposes like virtually hurling tomatoes at the TV screen using iPhone applications.”
This is an ingenious move for AT&T. It gives the iPhone even more functionality, gives U-Verse a much-needed differentiator from its cable competitors, and greatly appeals to the “geek chic” crowd. U-Verse is facing an uphill battle, with broadband cable having superior penetration and Verizon FiOS having superior speeds. While Comcast’s dominant cable service has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, speeding up U-Verse deployment while touting exclusive features like iPhone connectivity can help AT&T make a dent in the broadband space. Offering a competitive product, appealing to iPhone hipsters, and taking advantage of Comcast’s bad press could transform U-Verse into the shining white knight of the broadband world. Naturally, all the cool features and positive spin in the world won’t help a thing if deployment doesn’t speed up.