Talking tech since 2003

Are you one of the millions of consumers who subscribe to cable services from Comcast?  If so, your viewing options will potentially be changing in the coming days, as you will be able to stream television content to select mobile devices from wherever life may take you; be it at home, on the go, or in your bathroom.  Okay, so maybe not the last option – but you get the idea.  This is because Comcast has announced plans to revamp their mobile applications to allow users of Apple’s iPad as well as Android-based tablets to not only schedule and manage content whilst on the go, but actually view it as well.

During the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that the company “has a series of upcoming online enhancements and app releases that are part of a much larger effort to reinvent how customers interact with their entertainment on TV, online and on mobile devices.”  This “much larger effort” is part of Comcast’s “Xfinity” campaign that has been aimed at allowing users to make better use of their services.  With the reality for web-based television and the success of site’s such as Hulu and Netflix, it makes perfect sense for Comcast – a company that strives to be the largest entertainment provider in America – to try and jump in on what seems to be a profitable industry.

While web-based streaming is not an entirely new ball-game for Comcast, their decision to jump on the mobile bandwagon has come at just the right time, as the coverage from CES has shown one big trend: smaller, faster, and better mobile devices.  For this reason, it would be downright irresponsible for Comcast to ignore the mobile industry and the need for mobile applications in order to remain an attractive solution to current and potential customers.

At the same time, Comcast probably made the best decision to sit back and observe the mobile market before jumping in.  By learning from the initially less than perfect Netflix iPad application and other moves by Netflix and Hulu, Comcast may have better prepared themselves to release a product that will meet and beat everyone’s expectations.

Despite the excitement for users of the Apple iPad, users of the iPhone and iPod Touch may not be as lucky, as Comcast has not made any announcements as to when – or even if – they will be making their mobile application available on such devices.  Personally, however, I ponder if it would even be worth Comcast’s trouble (contracts with content producers, etc.) to release iPhone/iPod applications.  After all, I doubt many people would be all too eager to view their content on such a small device.

Another interesting aspect that I’m eager to see play out is how pricing for Comcast’s new mobile applications will work.  As of right now, it appears that current Comcast subscribers will be able to view their “OnDemand” content from their tablet devices.  However, Comcast has yet to speculate as to if they will be implementing a “streaming only” plan such as the one recently introduced by Netflix.  The implementation of such a plan would potentially allow for more users to subscribe to Comcast’s content at a lower price-point by eliminating the infrastructure required with the current cable network; ultimately leading to a win-win for both consumers who would receive content at a lower price, and Comcast who would eliminate a great deal of their infrastructure liabilities and costs.

What do you think about the idea of a Comcast streaming application?  Are you a Comcast customer?  If so, will you use the service?  Better yet, if you’re not a Comcast customer, would you consider subscribing given this new revelation?  Let us know in the comments!

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