Waiting for Pivot's Mobile DVR
We've heard quite a bit lately about Sprint's joint venture with the cable companies, called Pivot. The service is rolling out across the country with a bundled quad-play offering and is supposed to be available in 40 markets by year-end. But I'm still anxiously awaiting what I thought would be one of the key differentiators for Pivot--the mobile DVR service.
When Sprint first talked about its joint venture with cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications back in November 2005, one of the most intriguing services that I heard them talk about was providing the consumer with the ability to remotely program their home digital video recorder from their phone. Sprint was the first mobile operator to talk to me about this type of service and it seemed very compelling.
Fast-forward 18 months and I have yet to see a mobile DVR service from Pivot. But both Verizon Wireless and AT&T have launched these services. Verizon partnered with Tivo to offer remote DVR access across select Verizon handsets. The service costs $1.99 per month.
Likewise, AT&T has a WAP 2.0 compliant remote DVR service that is integrated with the firm's U-verse product. This was launched nearly a year ago and it fits in with the company's converged wireline/wireless three-screen strategy. This service is offered free to AT&T customers that subscribe to both U-verse TV and the AT&T's Internet services.
Both Verizon and AT&T's products could stand some improvement. Current Analysis analyst William Ho notes that Verizon needs to expand the number of handsets available for the Tivo service--it is currently limited to just four devices. Plus, he suggested that Verizon follow AT&T's lead and link the service to Verizon's FIOS TV offering. He also says that AT&T needs to consider offering a promotion to stimulate consumers to use the remote DVR capability.
Ho strongly urges Pivot to use its unique relationship with both Sprint and the cable firms to develop a mobile DVR product that takes advantage of the partnership and "leapfrogs" the efforts of AT&T and Verizon. I agree with Ho. After 18 months of waiting, I want to see real innovation on the mobile DVR front. I want something so different from the existing offerings that consumers will consider switching from their current mobile operators to Pivot. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised. -Sue