The announcement earlier today that the ABC are launching iView for Bravia TVs and certain internet enabled Sony Blu-ray players was marred by one little bit of disappointment - that the app version would be metered by all ISPs, including the ones who offer unmetered iView browser viewing. Here's why:
According to Kate Ryan from the iView team at the ABC, the main reason is that "none of the TV applications [either the Bravia version or any upcoming, as yet unannounced versions - NB]are browser based, so the iView team has had to craft the application with TV manufacturers." What this means is that they have had to change the serving protocol, which in turn affects how the data is sent. The content itself is mirrored on two different servers now - one for browsers and one for applications.
But despite the fact that it is currently a technical constraint for the iView team causing the app version to be metered, Kate doesn't believe it will always be a technical constraint. It is also a matter of ensuring that they don't upset any of their ISP partners, and considering it is still early days for VOD direct to TVs in Australia, the ABC is taking the "cautious" approach.
The application itself has been tweaked to be navigated using the directional and OK buttons on your remote. The change in navigation style means that some things are lost in ease of access - information about programs isn't quite as accessible as the web version, for example. Kate describes it as being "like going from a website to an iPhone app", in that you lose some of the easily accessible info, but gain a lot of ease of use.
And while some of us long for the ability to try the app version of iView on the PS3, Kate was extremely tight lipped on any plans, although she did admit that they were in discussions with other TV manufacturers to create custom iView apps. She wouldn't name any names though...