Light Reading

Comcast Throws House Party in Valley

Mari Silbey
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Comcast showed off for its new West Coast friends this week, hosting an open house event at its Silicon Valley Innovation Center that featured demonstrations from several tech partners.

The Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) demo fest in Sunnyvale, Calif., included presentations by healthcare partners Altia Systems, which makes videoconferencing products, and the California Telehealth Network. The open house also featured a presentation by Twitter Inc. , which was brought in to exhibit the new "SEEiT" feature launched in October. Twitter and Comcast have teamed up with SEEiT to let consumers tune in to TV shows and access online video directly from their Twitter streams. (See Comcast Embraces Twitter.)

The trend toward highlighting specific consumer experiences powered by service provider networks is gaining momentum. It's hard to promote the visuals of a broadband pipe, but showing what that connection can enable is a totally different matter. (See Tech Giants Tout Retail Chops.)

The highlighted demos at Comcast's event combined some of the cable company's more disparate activities. On the one hand, the healthcare presentations emphasize cable's growing success in the commercial services market. On the other, the Twitter demo gives a nod to the entertainment side of Comcast's business and the MSO's growing interest in leveraging Twitter as a medium for monitoring and influencing TV water-cooler talk.

Comcast said it also demonstrated new features of its X1 IP video platform at the open house. In addition, the MSO offered a preview of its future home automation and cloud services.

The Silicon Valley Innovation Center opened in 2011 and is the development site for recent Comcast apps, including the Family Point messaging app and Xfinity Games, a collaboration with Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq: ERTS). Comcast, which now employs about 250 engineers in Silicon Valley, also runs development centers in Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, and Washington DC. (See Comcast Begins EA Games Pilot.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
1/3/2014 | 12:54:12 PM
Re: what's the point?
I think that Comcast and many others are realizing that innovation works much better in a thriving ecosystem.  Events like this serve many purposes including:
  • providing a positive environment within the organization ("demo days") by letting developers to show off what's been done
  • getting the message out that interesting work is going on to prospective new talent
  • getting the message out about specific initiatives to  prospective partners
  • letting the investment community know that the company is forward thinking and looking in new directions
  • and providing a showcase for what's going on at their Silicon Valley facility.

In organizations where interesting work is going on, this helps to socialize that an organization is innovative and developer-friendly.
User Rank: Blogger
12/12/2013 | 12:00:25 PM
Re: what's the point?
Good point, Dan. I think Comcast wants it to be both. Brian Roberts is so determined to make Comcast a hot tech brand, rather than just a cable giant. So he's pulling out all the stops here.
User Rank: Blogger
12/11/2013 | 11:28:55 PM
Re: what's the point?
I think all of the carriers have been touting their innovation center efforts in recent years. If you're in Silicon Valley, you may need to try extra hard to get noticed. I've always thought that for the telcos at least, these innovation centers could fill the void left by Bell Labs and Bellcore. With Cablelabs still relevant, I wonder if Comcast's effort is more of a service showcase than an actual development petri dish.
User Rank: Blogger
12/11/2013 | 5:45:49 PM
what's the point?
How much of a difference do you tghink moves like this make for Comcast and other service providers? Do they really change peoples' hearts and minds about the host? Or is it just a way for Comcast execs to feel good about themselves and what they're doing? 
User Rank: Blogger
12/11/2013 | 5:43:41 PM
No invites
So how come we didn't get invited to this big shindig in Sunnyvale, Mari? What are we, chopped liver oir something?  
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