Don't Worry, Be 'Appy'

Apparently this is the week for apps. In the course of just a couple days, Time Warner Cable, Rogers Communications and Netflix all made app announcements -- updates, new launches and new OSs. And that's great. Well, mostly. The TWC apps extend the MSO...

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By Ron Hendrickson

Apparently this is the week for apps.

In the course of just a couple days, Time Warner Cable, Rogers Communications and Netflix all made app announcements -- updates, new launches and new OSs. And that's great. Well, mostly.

The TWC apps extend the MSO's wireless reach to Android devices, both tablets and smartphones. TWC's had iOS versions for Apple products for a while now, so this is just a logical progression. The Rogers launch is a beta test that subscribers can sign up for, initially just for Apple devices and with limited video channels. Android versions and full rollout are expected in the coming year. Again, entirely logical and sensible.

But Netflix ... oh, poor Netflix. Netflix has updated its existing streaming video app, which seems sensible enough, but apparently they've done a poor job of it, and users are griping.

At the app's download page in the Apple App Store, one reviewer wrote: "Was a great app until the update. It doesn't work now. All it shows is a blank gray screen. Please fix soon!" Other users complained about crashes and instability, a missing user interface, and so forth. Apparently Netflix is using its subscribers as beta testers without telling them first. (See "Rogers" above for the proper way to beta test.)

Considering the other wounds Netflix has inflicted on itself in recent months, you have to wonder what those guys are thinking. Although to be fair, TWC ran into some glitches in July when it launched version 2.0 of its iPad app as well.

There's an object lesson here. Yes, multiscreen apps are hot, and done well, they can be a great benefit to the service provider. Naturally, operators want to launch them as quickly as they can. But service velocity doesn't mean much if the service in question doesn't work.

Test first, then launch.

Ron Hendrickson is BTR's managing editor. Reach him at ron@broadbandtechreport.com.

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