Optical/IP Networks

To Xfinity... & Beyond!

LOS ANGELES -- The Cable Show -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) subscribers will eventually be able to use Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)’s iPad as a remote control that will allow them to navigate thousands of video-on-demand and live TV channels, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said here Wednesday.

Roberts unveiled a prototype for the Xfinity Remote, which shares the brand of Comcast’s VoD and Internet video services, during a general session at The Cable Show. One of the cable industry’s biggest challenges has been making it easier for consumers to navigate expanding content choices. Roberts says the Xfinity Remote helps solve that problem.

“That’s been the missing link for a lot of us in the cable box,” Roberts said. “How do I search 70,000 on-demand shows and beyond?”

A prototype version of the Xfinity Remote will be available to Comcast subscribers later this year, a Comcast spokesperson said Wednesday.

The Xfinity Remote application for the iPad will also feature some social networking features, which will allow Comcast subscribers to invite friends to watch the programs they are watching. The application relies on the cable industry’s EBIF interactive TV standard, Roberts said.

The Xfinity remote was developed by Comcast Labs, according to a blog that Comcast posted today.

Roberts shot a demo video of the Xfinity Remote Tuesday night and showed it to attendees at Wednesday’s opening general session at The Cable Show. You can view that video here:

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:36:27 PM
re: To Xfinity... & Beyond!

I've held an iPad.  It's way too heavy to be a remote.

To use it would be a (groan) paradigm shift: the iPad would sit on the coffee table and be used more like a computer interface.  Which I suppose is the direction they're going with this.

But for my habits - like using the remote to turn off the TV, then tossing the remote onto the couch - an iPad is probably not going to work.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:36:26 PM
re: To Xfinity... & Beyond!

I know it's not just for the iPad, but I'm talking specifically about the iPad. Terrible idea.

It's an unwieldy device: believable as a replacement for a book or a netbook; not so great as a handheld (problem #1: Not fitting in the hand.)

Ryan Lawler (ex-LR, now with NewTeeVee) has the same idea. From Twitter: "if someone doesn't make a spoof video of a comcast user holding his ipad in both hands and pointing it at the tv to change channels, i will."

As a stationary device on a coffee table, for searching through content - OK, I can see the iPad doing that.  For turning the TV on or off, or changing the volume, or switching channels -- no.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:36:26 PM
re: To Xfinity... & Beyond!

The "remote" they're talking about today isn't just for the iPad. Comcast demod it on that device, but said it can be used by other devices with a Web browser... so iphones, etc., and other smaller mobile devices can use it too, though you may not be eager to toss those on couches either. However, Comcast is developing an ipad-only app as well.   From the demo i saw, the content discovery ability is the most compelling part to me since finding content, particularly among a growing sea of  VoD titles, is not an easy task.   JB

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:36:25 PM
re: To Xfinity... & Beyond!

I think the idea is more useful when used as a content search and discovery interface than using the ipad to change channels since most people with ipads would still use, I dunno, THE REMOTE CONTROL to handle those tasks in most instances... and i've heard some complaints that Craig points out... that the ipad is heavy for a mobile, handheld-sort of unit.  The channel change ability is a  byproduct of the overall concept.. but i'd like to see Comcast flesh it out further and offer a broader Xfinity TV Everywhere app on the ipad that would do streaming video  a la the Netflix app. . JB



HBO_Kid 12/5/2012 | 4:24:40 PM
re: To Xfinity... & Beyond!

Even more from Brian B.S. Roberts !

Sign In