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I missed this late last week because I was out, but AT&T has fired the latest shot in the bundled services (or “quad play”) battle by offering free wireless calling to landline phones. In other words, it’s free when Cingular (soon to be “AT&T”) users call landline phones (no minutes are eaten up), and vice versa. This also brings wireless and landline service closer together with the singular (bad pun intended) bill, characteristic of quad play.

As competition heats up in triple play, we’ll continue to see lots of feature enhancements like this and lots of price competition. Triple play not only has benefits of economies of scale and customer retention, but ownership of all these services also creates a network effect for providers, allowing them to go beyond “dumb pipe” status and more effectively deliver content and advertising across devices and services. Examples are programming your DVR from your cellphone; watching the ending of a TV show on your cellphone that you weren’t able to finish at home; sending local search results from a PC to a cellphone; the list goes on and on.

Triple play is therefore important to the local search and media space, and we’ll continue to watch it closely. Read more in our recent Advisory Triple and Quad Play: Who Will Win the Bundled Services Battle? and blog coverage here, here, and here.

On the lighter side, here is a funny YouTube clip from the Colbert Report on the Cingular name change and on AT&T’s slow metamorphosis back into Ma Bell-like form (interesting metaphor  previously made by Greg Sterling  to the Terminator T-1000 creature made up of liquid metallic pieces that constantly break apart and come back together).

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