Comcast promises to support third-party HTML5 apps on its X1 platform

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) said it is working to support HTML5 apps from third-party vendors on its X1 platform. The company currently supports a handful of third-party services on its X1 -- such as games from EA -- but the company said that adding HTML5 support to X1 will allow it to "support a wider range of third-party apps."

Concurrently, Comcast also said it is in the process of building HTML5 apps that the company said would allow it to delivery its Xfinity services on more devices like smart TVs, retail set-top boxes, and "other TV-connected devices." Comcast said that using HTML5 would allow the company to support a wide range of computing devices without having to build a specific app for each different operating system.

Importantly, Comcast said its HTML5 efforts would use the "Encrypted Media Extensions" (EME) portion of the HTML5 standard. Introduced a few years ago by the W3C Internet standards group, EME connects standard Internet web browsers to digital rights management (DRM) software, thereby protecting video streams from piracy. Major Internet browsers like Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer support EME.

Interestingly, Netflix was an early adopter of EME, announcing in 2013 it would provide its services via EME onto Microsoft's Windows devices.

"Comcast also is developing an HTML5-based app with Encrypted Media Extensions ("EME"), which would enable access to Xfinity service on compatible device platforms without the need for building customized native apps for every device platform," Comcast said in a recent FCC filing. "This approach holds particular promise for facilitating delivery of Comcast's service to Smart TVs, retail set-top boxes, and other TV-connected devices, which currently operate in much more fragmented markets using different operating systems. Comcast also is working towards supporting HTML5 with EME on its X1 platform, so that X1-capable set-top boxes will be able to support a wider range of third-party apps."

A Comcast representative declined to comment beyond the company's filing, including on when Comcast might roll out its HTML5 options.

X1 is Comcast's high-end set-top box that supports a range of video options alongside other services, like smart home products and video games. Comcast has said in the past it would open X1 to offerings from third-party suppliers, and recently has made steps in that direction. For example, just last week the company announced the first handful of third-party products that would work with its Xfinity Home offering, and earlier this year that company released its Xfinity Games service, which features a handful of video games from gaming company EA.

HTML5 technology has long been heralded as a common publishing platform for a variety of computing devices. Websites, lightweight apps and other services can be built in HTML5 technology and then published to a variety of platforms from Android smartphones to iPad tablets to smart TVs.

Indeed, Comcast has long dabbled in the technology. In 2011, the company said it updated its website interface using HTML5.

For more:
- see this Comcast FCC filing

Related articles:
Comcast launches first wave of Xfinity Home third-party integration, promises X1 integration and voice control
Comcast makes EA deal official, will deliver games through X1 via Xfinity Games