AT&T Woos Developers, Offers U-Verse Customers $5 Unlimited Movies

At CES, AT&T offered developers new tools and U-verse subscribers an incentive to stay put—unlimited movies for $5 a month.

AT&T's first-day news from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show related more to consumers' televisions than their smartphones. It also emphasized AT&T's interest in encouraging users to interact with multiple devices and offering a complementary, or at least consistent, experience when they do.

First, AT&T announced a Screen Pack feature for customers of its U-verse service—a television service that enables users to record up to four shows at once, store potentially hundreds of hours of content and access more than 170 HD channels. With Screen Pack, for an additional $5 a month, U-verse subscribers can have unlimited access to a video library of classic movies, current movies and TV shows.

AT&T currently has about 1,500 titles in its library, which it's working to grow—as it should. The service seems a preventative measure for keeping customers from straying toward somewhat-competitors such as Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or Netflix, the latter of which has tens of thousands of films.

"We know customers have more options than ever before to watch their favorite movies, and U-verse Screen Pack gives them a convenient and valuable way to access a large variety of movie titles, whether it's on the device in their hand or on their big screen TV," Maria Dillard, vice president of U-verse and video products in AT&T's Home Solutions group, said in a Jan. 7 statement.

During AT&T's third quarter, it pointed to its U-verse business, which grew by 38 percent year over year, as a major driver of its revenue growth during the quarter.

Through Jan. 13, AT&T will offer U-verse customers a free preview of Screen Pack, hoping they'll find it to be worth parting with five extra bucks a month.

At a special developers' event, just off the beaten CES path, AT&T also announced a Call Management API (application programming interface) and a new Alpha API program. The major goal of the former, which is run by Voxeo's Tropo technologies and Ericsson's IMS Innovation Platform, is for developers to be able to create user experiences across multiple devices that the program associates with a single phone number.

"AT&T's entire developer community now has access to all of the call control, cross-carrier SMS, text-to-speech and speech recognition capabilities that offers, plus access to AT&T's suite of other API's," a Tropo blogger explained in a Jan. 4 post.

The Alpha API Program is also meant to aid developers in getting APIs, and cool applications, to market more quickly. Toward that end, the Alpha program will allow developers to offer ideas for new APIs. "As a result," AT&T officials said in a statement, "APIs will be able to be sponsored into Alpha from third parties to increase collaboration and innovation."

As of Jan. 7, AT&T is offering developers 1 million API calls per month on the AT&T AP Platform. Should they exceed that amount, they'll pay one cent per call.

"The best customer experience comes from the combination of great devices and the nation's largest 4G network—with the best apps and services running on them," said David Christopher, AT&T Mobility's chief marketing officer. "Today's developer summit and our API platform announcements are proof that AT&T is firmly committed to the support and success of developers."