Verizon is preparing to enable downloadable applications on set-tops in the same way downloadable apps are now available with Apple’s iPhone.

With consumer electronics (CE) makers embedding widgets – Web-based or Web-like applications – into various CE devices, including directly into TVs, the model is already migrating into home entertainment whether service providers enable it or not. The question is whether the exact iPhone model works in the Apple’s iPhonetru2way/EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) environment, and whether consumers will extend their support of downloadable apps from their phones to their TVs.

The iPhone model would be a variation of the tru2way model. Through tru2way, the cable industry long ago embraced the notion of third parties developing a cascade of applications for the set-top. The key differences would be in the way the service provider makes the apps available, and how to present and sell them.

CableLabs CEO Dick Green said CableLabs is not investigating the model of an app store – a single point of distribution for downloadable apps. Green observed that since Apple and Verizon are single companies, it’s easier for them to support a single point of distribution. That model would be harder to implement by a group of independent MSOs. 

Verizon said it is opening its FiOS platform, and the telco has invited third-party developers to create apps that FiOS subscribers will be able to access through what Verizon is calling a “Widget Bazaar.”  The company said it plans to open the Widget Bazaar in the fall.

Last fall, Verizon talked about making widgets available to FiOS subscribers; today’s announcement of the Widget Bazaar is simply one step further.

Verizon mentioned two apps developed in-house – one that connects with Twitter, the other with Facebook, both of which connect to the social networking sites to automatically create tweets and updates about the shows that the participating subscribers are watching.

“We’re also planning several other new services, including an easy way to play Internet video on the TV screen,” Verizon senior vice president of media relations Eric Rabe said in his blog (read it here).

“Those sorts of features are nowhere to be found on old-fashioned cable,” Rabe tweaked.
In January, after Charter Communications claimed the top spot in regard to the fastest data service (60 Mbps) with the news of its DOCSIS 3.0 deployment (story here), Rabe fired back in a company blog that purported to show the weaknesses of the channel-bonding technology (story here).

More Broadband Direct 03/13/09:

•  Verizon heads toward iPhone model
•  FairPoint seeks to delay debt payment as customers flee
•  SeaChange cashes in on Q4 earnings
•  Nielsen: Ad spending down, but cable a bright spot
•  QuickPlay: U.S. mobile TV, video market will only improve
•  Congress considers Universal Service Fund changes
•  Google Voice could be a game changer
•  AOL taps Google exec Armstrong as CEO
•  Stocks open higher, extend gains for 4th day
•  Broadband Briefs for 03/1309