Comcast's New iPhone App Can't (Yet) Program Your DVR


Comcast (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable company, joins rival DirecTV (DTV) in Apple’s iPhone app store.

The new Comcast app lets you read your email, check your Comcast voicemail, read home phone logs, browse Comcast TV programming, and watch trailer videos for Comcast On Demand features.

What doesn’t it do? Allow you to program your DVR from your iPhone, which DirecTV’s app does. A Comcast rep says it’s “on the roadmap” for a future release.

But as Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield said in a blog post earlier this week (registration required), it’s one of the ways that DirecTV has used technology to distinguish itself from cable.

DTV has also gained a competitive advantage versus cable operators with remote DVR scheduling (and it markets its advantage aggressively). ┬áDirecTV (click here) has an iPhone app and PC-based option to program its DVRs. ┬áThe cable industry has been talking about launching this functionality for 18 months (since Comcast’s Brian Roberts mentioned it during his 2008 CES Keynote), but nothing has materialised across the cable industry (albeit DTV, DISH, TIVO, VZ and T all offer the functionality).

This isn’t a big deal today — we doubt anyone is choosing their TV provider based on its iPhone app features. But this stuff — as well as improving TV user experiences, adding more digital features, etc. — is only going to become more important. Comcast needs to be a leader.

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