While the media focused on the new Wi-Fi hotspot roaming agreement announced this week at The Cable Show, there was lots more innovation popping up at the Boston trade event - new platforms, apps and services. And in panel discussions, chief technology officers from Comcast and Time Warner kept pushing the message of change and innovation to deal with the evolving needs/tastes of customers and the strategies of rivals.
Comcast's Slant: "I think the whole world's moving faster," said Comcast Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner in his comments to the cable community. "We have to step it up," citing Comcast's new forays into Skype on TV, home security and energy management and monitoring, plus its new X1 cloud-based Internet Protocol video platform. "We'll see which ones have stickiness," he said.
Rolling out soon in Boston and coming to "5 to 10 more markets" by year's end, X1 looks even spiffier than its prototype predecessor, Xcalibur, which Comcast showed me last year. While offering users the chance to multi-task - simultaneously watching a TV show while also checking out news headlines, ball scores, weather and messages from Facebook and Twitter friends - the screen never looks too cluttered. The graphic layout is very clean, with an easy-on the-eyes typeface, charcoal-toned backdrops and just tasteful splashes of color. Comcast also seems to have fine tuned/narrowed the X1 search engine, so it looks for stars, movies, directors etc. within the mega-company's own universe of content already recorded on the DVR, available on demand or coming up soon in the program guide listings. I'd previously been told it "could" also locate content from sites like YouTube, though that option seems to have been eliminated in Comcast's new (Apple-like) walled gatden content approach.
But now you can also run your Comcast home security and management system through the same user interface - calling up a baby-cam image, changing the air conditioning setting and arming the alarm system from the same intergrated remote control used for all the TV and social network apps.