Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s Comcast’s Version of Apple TV

We still don’t know what the “real” Apple TV will look like, but by now we’ve seen a lot of other people’s versions of Apple TV: Everyone from heavyweights like Microsoft to upstarts like Roku are pushing boxes and software that meld traditional TV with Web video.

And Comcast, the country’s biggest pay TV provider, says it will do the same thing, along with lots of other ideas you’ve seen elsewhere: Voice control, integration with third-party apps like Pandora, “social TV” features, etc.

Here’s Comcast CEO Brian Roberts previewing his company’s upcoming X2 platform yesterday at the cable industry’s annual convention. If you want to save time, you can skip the preamble and move ahead to the 3:48 mark. And if you’re in a real rush, you can skip the video entirely and skim the press release.

The one thing that X2 won’t do, of course, is give customers the ability to watch TV without paying for a TV subscription, or let them break the TV bundle into smaller chunks, so that people who don’t care about sports don’t need to pay for ESPN, etc.

But then again, none of the pay-TV outsiders that want to wrest control of your living room from Comcast have done that, either — not even Google.

Improving the TV’s interface is an engineering problem that you can solve with time and talent; remaking the TV business is the truly difficult task.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik