Comcast will offer a demonstration later this afternoon of a new service they plan to roll out in 2011: live streaming of television content to iPads and Android tablet devices. The service will only be available to Comcast subscribers, and the specific details of how the service will work have not yet been announced. The demonstration--by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts--will take place at a Citigroup investors conference.
At first glance, the service sounds great--get live television programming direct to your tablet device--who could have a problem with that? Well, the guy who finds out that it's only going to work inside his own home, that's who. With a range that limited, the everyday uses for this technology diminish. I suppose you could watch one program on your iPad upstairs in the study while your wife watches Project Runway on the standard television. And the portability will allow you to wander throughout the house, I guess.
But I tend to think the times I'd want to watch live television on my tablet computer would be when I'm not at home... when I'm out with friends or visiting the home of someone who doesn't have cable... or even while on the road traveling.
It's impossible to know why the service will be confined to the home, mostly because we don't yet know anything about how it will work--no details have been announced about the technology powering the service, and it's possible the distance limitations are simply a matter of capability for now.
There's also no word on what content will be available through this new service, or what content could be blocked. So in other words... this is a teaser announcement, designed to get us talking about it so that when Comcast is ready to announce more details, they have a built-in audience. And it worked--as much for what it suggests might be possible in the future as for what it can promise now.
I'm a Comcast subscriber--by monopoly as much as by choice--and even though I don't have a tablet device, I'm intrigued and excited about this. Like most people, I just want the content I want to see to be available to me anytime, anywhere, anyhow. We're still a long way off from that, but services like this from Comcast are each steps in the journey, leading us closer to the video utopia most consumers are hoping for.