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Verizon to close mobile video service in favor of new Viewdini search app

The Verizon Video service delivered streaming video for money, while Viewdini just helps customers find content

Verizon Wireless will shut down its Verizon Video service later this month, as mobile operators gradually back away from specialized, branded services and embrace what third parties have built.

The service, which began under the name VCast Video in 2005, offers video from a variety of sources for a daily or monthly fee. On Dec. 15, the carrier will discontinue it in favor of Viewdini, a service it launched in June. Viewdini helps subscribers find content from third-party sources such as Netflix and Hulu Plus but doesn't deliver any video itself.

Before the smartphone boom that followed the launch of the iPhone in 2007, mobile operators built their own platforms for delivering games, software and multimedia content over their 3G networks. But with the rise of the Apple iOS and Google Android app stores, plus the growth of Web-based content and social-networking services, some carriers have shifted to taking advantage of what those third parties offer. Recently, Verizon Wireless also announced it would phase out its own app store, Verizon Apps -- previously the VCast App Store -- early next year.

Viewdini is a free app that can be downloaded to Verizon iOS and Android devices. What it offers is a set of tools for finding videos, including searches by category, popularity, actor, title and keyword. It also can make recommendations customized for each subscriber, the carrier said. Information about movies and TV shows, sourced from TV.com, is also included. Verizon says the service taps into partnerships with 12 apps, services and cable companies.

Verizon Video costs money but lets paid users watch any included show or movie free of charge. Viewdini takes users to the source of a video, but users need to get their own subscriptions to the third-party sources where those are required, according to Verizon Wireless spokesman David Samberg.

Both Verizon Video and Viewdini are focused on streaming video rather than content that users download to their devices for watching later, Samberg said. Verizon Video has offered some live shows, but mostly video on demand for watching when the subscriber chooses. Viewdini will aggregate a variety of types of video, including Verizon's own NFL Mobile service, which includes National Football League games.

Verizon Video is being phased out because of the changes that have taken place in online video since its launch, Samberg said. "It's just kind of an evolution," Samberg said.

Verizon Video was priced at US$3 per day or $10 per month. The carrier stopped charging subscribers for the monthly plan starting last month, so when the service closes, customers won't lose any time on the service that they have paid for, Samberg said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com


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