The new Xfinity Xbox application sounds exciting, but may be more valuable as a marketing channel
Xcitement abounded the other night as I downloaded the new Xfinity for Xbox application. Having recently authored a report on multiscreen video, I have waited for this app. Other than forgetting my user name, operation was simple enough and I was viewing on-demand programs in very high quality, high-definition in a flash. Will I regularly use this Xbox application? Probably not and here is why:
- Log-in – It is a chore to log-in every time one wants to use the app. Sure, I could stay logged in, but then the little ones in the household would also have access to all the content. Parental controls, sure I could try that, but I don’t want to invest the 15 minutes required to figure them out and then my kids would hack them anyway. Because it is an on-screen keyboard, it is fairly easy for someone to see the password (particularly an 11 and 13-year-old with photographic memories).
- Another App – sure, the Xfinity TV app for android could be extended to allow browsing titles and authentication, so that prying eyes wouldn’t be able to see my password, but that doesn’t seem to exist, at least at this point. And even if did, whether I will use my phone as a remote is another question.
- Bandwidth Cap – It surprised me that there was no warning about possibility of exceeding bandwidth cap, but I may be paranoid based on an article I wrote on this topic. Granted, this would be a great deal of TV watching (100 to 800 hours per month by Comcast’s estimate) . [5/15/12 update – Comcast explains in this post that they are using “Differentiated Services Code Point (“DSCP”) markings” to differentiate Xfinity TV traffic from regular Internet traffic, which means the On-Demand traffic is staying on the Comcast Managed Network].
- Lack of Content: Sure, there was some content, but many of the movies required subscriptions to premium services (which we don’t have).
We will probably continue to watch TV via HDMI-connected PC. Don’t discount the Xbox as a way to watch video, based on this focus-group of one, as the Xbox has proven to be the most popular platform for at least one Over-the-Top service; Rovi’s CinemaNow (according to Richard Bullwinkle of Rovi speaking the recent OTT Conference).
When I downloaded the app, I must have granted permission to Microsoft to send me blasts about new Comcast releases (I just received the note about Comcast supporting HBO GO). Prior to this, I had never given Comcast the email address I most often use. Even if I never use the app again, now Comcast has a marketing channel they never had before; having that way to relay messages to me. This channel may be even more valuable than the actual Xbox application.