5 things you didn’t know Comcast offered

As I go to holiday parties this year and talk about what I do at work, I keep hearing from people that just aren’t aware of how much Comcast and its services have changed over the last year or two. So I put together a list of the top 5 things people often don’t know we offer…

1. A DVR that doesn’t suck

X1 Remote ControlComcast is rolling out an entirely new, cloud-based TV experience, called the X1 Platform. It’s built from the ground up to be a more intuitive, visual experience that’s connected to the web the way you’d expect your TV to be in 2012 (now available in the SF Bay Area).

It makes channel-surfing easier keeping track of your last 9 shows visually. Offers episode guides for your shows listing what’s on your DVR, OnDemand, and upcoming on air. Finally it offers a slew of apps (many built by my team) that enable you to do everything from seeing your Facebook photos on the big screen, to checking your commute’s traffic, to listening to Pandora.

2. Remote control using your phone

What's On App - ScreenshotWhether you’re on your couch or at work, many don’t realize you can use your smartphone or tablet to tune your TV’s channel or record a show. One of these apps, built by my team, aims to solve the problem of thousands of channels but you still can’t find something good to watch.

The What’s On app, in a visual way, shows you what’s trending on TV right now that you might want to watch. Over time we’ll learn what types of shows and channels you like and then tailor the results to you. This week we also added to ability to share with your friends what you’re watching which eventually will improve your results as well.

Finally if you want to control your DVR or browse a grid-based guide, check out the XFINITY TV app for iOS or Android.

3. A Sports Experience built for Fans

Sports App on X1Finding what games are on now is a whole lot easier with the Sports App offered for X1 or your iPhone/iPad. It shows you each match-up by league/conference, the current score, airing time, channel etc. From the app you can tune directly or set a recording on DVR.

While the game’s playing keep track of the other games you’re interested in, so you’ll always know when its time to switch channels.

4. Downloadable movies to take with you

XFINITY Player App on iPadComcast’s already got thousands of TV shows and movies OnDemand (most free) but that doesn’t help you when you’re on the airplane without the Internet… until now.

With the new XFINITY TV Player app you now can download TV shows and movies directly to your iPad/iPhone or Android tablet to watch where ever you want—meaning you’ll no longer have to pay for that in-flight movie again.

And if you’re on WiFi for Verizon LTE you can stream an even larger selection of titles.

5. Access to a large list of direct streaming apps

With you TV subscription comes access to a growing number of mobile streaming apps offered directly by content providers—if you get the channel, you can use the app. My kids love the Disney Jr app to catch up on their Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but here’s just a sample of what’s out there…

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Finally, gone are the days of waiting around all day for the cable guy to show up. Comcast’s uses a narrower 2 hour window now if the service technician doesn’t make it out the Comcast Guarantee will credit you $20 or a free premium channel for 3 months as a way of showing we messed up. But please let me know if this ever doesn’t work out as I’d hate to see one of my friends not taken care of. 🙂

To wrap up this is really just the start as there’s lots more in the works to make your TV experience even better. Since my team plays a role in the above please let me know what you think.

1000 channels but what should you watch?

This week my team here at Comcast Silicon Valley put out a new iOS app aimed at solving the age-old problem of finding something on TV but in a fresh new way. 

What’s On by Comcast Labs shows XFINITY TV customers, in a visual way, what’s on right now sorted by a proprietary algorithm that puts what we think will be most popular programs for a given time slot and then tune/record directly from the app. 

The app enables you to personalize the experience with your favorite shows, channels, and even what shows you and your friend’s like on Facebook. For your favorite shows we’ll push an alert the day a new episode will air so you won’t miss it. 

By default the app will bias toward HD versions of shows but you can also filter to see just what movies are on (or starting soon), kids shows, sports, or just what “new” episodes are airing. 

Since we’re big fans of the Lean Startup methodology, here’s some of the hypotheses we’re looking to validate that customers want to:

  • Browse Live TV listings in a visual way sorted by popularity
  • Receive push alerts for new episodes of their favorite shows.
  • Connect their social graph to see what shows their friends “Like”

We’ve got lots more ideas of things we want to try but also will be listening to you and watching the metrics closely to see where we should focus. In positioning it as “by Comcast Labs” we hope to learn a lot from this app and there’s a strong possibility any successful features could make there way into other XFINITY offerings.

Let me or the team (whatson@sv.comcast.com) know what you think!

Know any Great Product Managers?

I’m now leading a new team at the Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center to develop apps across Xfinity’s mobile and TV platforms. This is a chance to reach over 30 million households with the next generation ways of interacting and consuming media content. 

If you or someone you know has a passion for building great consumer product experiences for mobile or the TV itself, let me know as I’m looking to hire. I

Open roles on my team:

  • Product Manager, Apps for the TV – Innovate the “10 foot experience” on interactive TV apps for the new cloud-based Xfinity X1 platform. 
  • Product Manager, TV Apps for Mobile – Build apps for iOS and Android around how people discover, engage, and share what’s on TV.
  • Product Manager, Entertainment Apps for Mobile – Build apps for iOS and Android around targeted audiences (e.g. Music Videos, Kids).
  • Plus lots of developer roles for iOS, front-end web, and server technologies. 

Should be a lot of fun!

Update 8/17/12: Most of these positions are now filled but I am still looking for the “Apps for the TV” role if you know anyone that might be fit.


Mary Meeker – 2012 Internet Trends

Kara Swisher of the WSJ posted the video footage (17 min) today of Mary Meeker’s (KPCB) D10 presentation on Internet Trends (5/30/12).

My top three takeaways:

1. 10% of time on Mobile but only 1% of advertising dollars (lots of upside)

  • BUT eCPMs are 5X lower on mobile vs. desktop.
  • HOWEVER Japan has shown mobile RPU can be monetized
  • Some app makers are making up the revenue up on volume

2. Two firehoses for growth: Facebook Open Graph and Apple App Store

  • Viddy got 17MM users in 7 days (similar w/Socialcam)
  • The combination of the two platforms magnify each other

3. Personally excited about the “white space” in the Car and TV

  • 52 minutes/day by 144MM Americans in cars (I do 2X that)
  • 3 hours/day in front of TVs with 50MM now Internet connected

She then went on to share her views on the US Economy which is mostly bearish with a few bright spots (like on-shoring the smartphone OS market).

What was missing in the 1st iPhone? (5 years later)

This week Apple will share their latest innovations at WWDC. However, I think its time we reflect back on what Steve Job’s announced 5 1/2 years ago at Macworld 2007: the 1st iPhone (worth another watch).

Steve Jobs pitched it under the backdrop other historic Apple products:

  • Macintosh (1984) – which changed the computer industry
  • iPod (2001) – which changed the music industry
of which it definitely became the third industry changing product for the company.

But remember what was missing?

  • It didn’t have the App Store – Native third-party apps weren’t available until 18 months after the announcement in mid-2008.
  • It wasn’t affordable – It cost a steep $599 and was cut in price by $200 two months after launch.
  • It wasn’t mass adopted – Despite the lines, only 1.2M were sold in the first full qtr of availability (vs. the 35M last qtr ending Mar 2012)
  • It didn’t have push email or MS Exchange support – the most important feature on other “smartphones”… missing.
  • It didn’t have GPS – It triangulated “good enough” location using wi-fi and cell towers, but no chip til the 3G.

Yet, we already look upon the Apple iPhone as one of the most successful consumer products ever. It shows how in Lean Startup language, Apple’s MVP did everything they needed to learn about the market and the space.

Apple focused on what it could do better and in a unique way. That’s good advice we each should take when building our new products.

My Top 5 Takeaways from Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends deck

She’s done it again. In one deck, Mary Meeker summarized so well many of the trends we’ve been seeing as and in doing so developed new insights around what’s around the bend. 

KPCB Internet Trends (2011)

Here’s my top 5 takeaways:

  • The iPad is going to be even bigger than iPhone—Its adoption is ramping MUCH faster than iPhone which already was a massively quickly adopted device (It was just 4 years ago I was carrying a Razr feature phone). (Slide 15)
  • USA is now a minority on the Internet — China added more Internet users in the last 3 years than exist in the United States (Slide 7) 
  • eCommerce is recovering much faster than Retail Sector as a whole (Slide 29)
  • Mobile Commerce in 2011 is 4X that of 2009 — eBay’s Marketplace and PayPal apps are doing exceedingly well (which makes me proud). (Slide 31)
  • USA developed mobile OS’s have gone from a 5% share in 2005 to 64% in 2011. This bodes well for jobs in Silicon Valley and shows we’ve still got it in this country. (Slide 45)