CHICAGO - Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) Chairman-CEO Brian Roberts, who likes to use The Cable Show to launch his company's next technology initiative, used this year's show to set ablaze the age-old, thin client-thick client set-top box debate. Roberts showed off a 1 Gbps cloud-based content surfing application that would seem to push the intelligence out of the set-top box and into the netherworld of Comcast servers.
Brian Roberts, Chairman-CEO of Comcast, demonstrates the next-generation Xfinity TV Experience. (Courtesy The Cable Show 2011)
"Today, the next generation involves cloud computing, not necessarily cloud storage," Roberts said, blurring the lines between thin and thick. "The cloud allows you to be able to have faster innovation."
In short, he said, using the cloud pulls "all the brains of the guide, the search, and personalization" out of the set-top and puts it in the cloud. Boxes with thick memory can use those blazing speeds Comcast demonstrated to tap the content and store it in their memory bases on demand. As a caveat, it's unlikely any residential user will see those kinds of speeds anytime soon.
"It is taking the brains of the TV and putting it in the cloud," Roberts concluded. "We have a great future."
Cable comes up a winner even while losing, thanks to broadband
Comcast's Roberts: Network is the gateway to streamed programming