First off, no, I will not call you Xfinity. Sorry, but that name is just silly. I won’t use it. But I digress (already).
Why are you not killing Netflix? And by “killing”, I do not mean, “Whining to Congress that Netflix is not regulated and threatens to commoditize your industry.” I mean, why are you not killing them in the market with the absolutely staggering number of advantages you have?
Comcast, you are poised to go vertical in a way that few companies can. Netflix couldn’t _dream_ of going vertical like this.
* You have a relationship with a huge base of existing customers. You’re one of the few media companies with a subscriber base close to Netflix (who just passed you, btw).
* You have a large last-mile network based on good technology. Sure, it’s not entirely fiber, but it’s a lot better than what most of the RBOCs are sitting on; and Netflix has zero.
* With NBC, you have established relationships with all the major content providers. Not just relationships, but leverage!
* You own the distribution channel from content library, transport, and the end-user hardware. Pst, this is a go to market pathway that others only _dream_ of having.
The problem I have with your service is that the “experience” sucks. Your cable box is a slow, buggy pile of crap. Browsing content on my cable box is only marginally better than the craptastic PPV movie systems in a cheap hotel. The new Xfinity apps for my iOS devices are a huge step up in terms of usability, but I’m not convinced that using my iOS device as a gigantic remote for my television is where I want to be. I don’t want to use the 10″ display in my lap when I have a 50″ display hanging on the wall. Not to mention, I already have four other remotes. Despite appearances, I’m not really interested in collecting these things.
This is what the Xfinity Mobile experience is like:
* Pick up my iPad and browse for “On Demand” content
* Initiate playback from my iPad
* Switch to the Comcast remote to play/pause, ffwd/rwnd
* Experience huge lag in response to my control inputs from any of these devices
I’ve measured it, and it can take up to three full seconds for my cable box to respond to inputs from the remote. Three seconds is an eternity in this context. When you compare it to the Netflix app running on my PS3, it’s just flat out embarrassing. Not to mention, with Netflix, I don’t have to keep my iPad around. I can just use the PS3 remote to browse, select, play, and ffwd/rwnd content. And it’s responsive. Have you ever tried to rewind an On Demand movie ten seconds to see something you missed? All too often, the DVR gets stuck on rewind and I’m left sitting there watching the entire movie in reverse… again. Miserable!
Netflix is kicking your ass because using their service is a pleasure. Have you used it? You should! I’ve got really bad news. If I were able to get network programming through Netflix or an Apple TV, you’d be my brand new _commodity bandwidth_ provider. That’s where you’re headed if you don’t shape up.
If you’re sitting in your executive office right now, looking at a feature list and scratching you’re head, *you are doing it wrong*. I’ll take a product with 3 features that work exceptionally well over 10 features that work like crap any day of the week. Guess what, so will the rest of us. Apple seems to have figured this out, and they’re not exactly struggling to eek out a profit. See also: Apple FY2011 Q2 profits of $5.99 billion.
Comcast, you have only yourselves to blame for this situation. You’re sitting on all the right pieces, and no individual component is a huge weakness. Dedicate yourself to a product that has great content, that’s delivered over a great network, and is accessible on competent hardware with an outstanding interface. Your Xfinity mobile apps are a good start, but pawning the hardware platform off on Apple isn’t the smart choice (for a number of reasons; _hint_, they’re gunning for your seat at the table). I don’t need another player in my living room. Despite our storied past, I’m willing to put it all behind us. I want you and me, alone, in my living room. Only you can make it happen.