Verizon is expanding its online media streaming service to add more movies from more Hollywood studios, and will make them available on more types of mobile devices.
As a bonus, Verizon will let customers upload more of their own photos and videos to Verizon for access remotely too. The expansion comes as companies such as Apple prepare their own remote storage services, and Verizon rivals like Netflix try to tackle their own streaming problems.
The new Verizon service is called Flex View Personal Library, and works on a customer's PC, Apple computer, Android-based mobile device and the iPhone, iPod and iPad tablet. It also works through the MyVerizon Web page.
Verizon customers will have up to 32 gigabytes of storage per account, roughly enough for thousands of photos, or 16 high-definition movies. Customers can do this through the company's Media Manager software.
Renting a standard definition movie from Verizon on all these devices will cost $4.99, or $5.99 for high-definition versions.
Like other media companies, Verizon's connection to Apple products comes with some quirks.
Verizon customers won't be able to use their iPad to make the initial movie purchase or rental on that device. Instead, they'll have to make that purchase online first through Verizon, then watch the movie on their iPads. That's partly because Apple steers its customers through the iTunes service for books, movies and music, and requires media companies to pay Apple a fee with each sale.
The overall deal comes just as a main rival of the cable companies, Netflix, stumbles in a transition to becoming an online movie streaming company.
Just Monday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent an e-mail to customers apologizing for how they handled a recent doubling of their prices for DVD by mail and streaming movie services. Netflix subsequently lost about a million subscribers.
Netflix will now split into two companies, one for DVDs by mail called Qwikster, and another that will retain the name Netflix for streaming movies.
Unfortunately, however, Netflix could lose much of its movie library, as some Hollywood studios refused to extend their movie deals with Netflix for streaming -- a move that protects their relationship with cable TV companies like Verizon.
Verizon spokesman Bob Elek emphasized that their new deal includes four more major movie studios, including 20th Century Fox, Universal, Sony and Disney. Verizon already had deals with Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures for online movie streaming.
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