Now, It’s Comcast And Apple … Whoa, There.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts explains how he is going to take over the world. Maybe. (Photo courtesy The Associated Press)

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts explains how he is going to take over the world. Maybe. (Photo courtesy The Associated Press)

All right. So, The Wall Street Journal dropped a bomb last night. But the paper has a pay wall. So, we can’t cite reporting from them. Though we can cite reaction from other media outlets who reported on their reporting, right? Right. So, here goes: Apple and Comcast are thinking about turning their friendship into something romantic. Go ahead, Jason D. O’Grady of ZDNet …

“According to The Wall Street Journal’s sources, Apple is in talks with Comcast to build a streaming television service that would bolster its digital content portfolio and guarantee a high level of quality (via prioritization) to Comcast subscribers’ homes,” he wrote a few minutes ago. “But Apple paying for priority access to Comcast’s subscribers would be another blow to net neutrality and could signal that content distributors will have to pay for access to cable customers.”

We’ve now reached the point in this particular blog post where we reference something written last month about Netflix and Comcast. Remember that? Oh. Well, if you don’t, go ahead and read this.

Back yet? OK. Good.

This would be huge, with a capital H, U, G and E. Apple is already the leader in innovative multi-media consumption tools (hey there, iTunes!), so if Easy A strikes a deal with one of the two or three cable companies that actually really matter these days … yikes. I won’t even be able to give away that Roku of mine.

Naturally, this calls into question the good, ol’ net neutrality phrase we have tackled in this here corner of the Internet before. For those unfamiliar with the notion … let’s just say that it centers around the principle that service providers should be treating everything online equally. No sweetheart deals. No unfair business practices. No “My Netflix content periodically skips while my iTunes library runs through episodes smoothly.”

Yeah, well, as O’Grady pointed out in his headline: RIP net neutrality?

“Netflix was forced to pay for priority access to Comcast subscribers after its streaming performance began to lag and customers complained of poor video quality and buffering,” he wrote later in his piece. “Comcast prioritizes data packets for its own Xfinity streaming TV and Video On Demand (VOD) services ahead of competing video streaming packets.”

Oh.

Wait. We aren’t done. Here’s the most pertinent nugget of information in O’Grady’s story: “Apple is negotiating for two of Comcast’s crown jewels: access to its streaming video portfolio and speedy access on the last mile into Comcast’s 30 million plus homes. Apple could conceivably gain access to live television (which it doesn’t currently offer) and higher-speed service to Comcast customers’ homes.”

There’s gotta be something wrong with this, no? I mean, I’m not a lawyer. Nor do I know the first thing about copyright and monopoly and fairness in business practices. But if Comcast and Apple move this thing forward, could somebody please explain to me what or who their competition would be? What other service provider and technology giant tandem could really give this thing a run for its money? Dish/Microsoft? Roku/Antietem Cable?

Just think: With Comcast giving both Netflix and Apple a wink and a nod, what else would you need? I mean, if the live-TV aspect has any legs, it’s hard to imagine a more practical device than an Apple TV. The fastest, most prioritized streaming service (Netflix) on the fastest, most prioritized product (Apple TV) that also allows you to watch the nightly news as it happens? That’s like trading Indiana Avenue for Boardwalk — the minute after you land on Park Place.

The Journal‘s report apparently also proclaims that the two entities are not close to an agreement, but don’t let that fool you: If these two powerhouses want to get something done, they’ll get something done, even if Apple does have a reputation for being nothing but a maniacal flirt in the ever-expanding world of Internet TV. As for Google Chromecast and Verizon Fios … well, both were seen drinking down at the local sportsmen’s club, uttering something about “the good old days” to each other.

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