How a deal with Comcast could force Apple to cede tight control over its products


Author: Brian Fung
Coverage Type: analysis
Location:
Apple Headquarters, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA, 95014, United States

Apple is said to be seeking a dedicated fast-lane for its streaming product over Comcast's broadband pipes.

The "managed service" would separate programming bound for Apple's box from other Internet traffic going to the same home, enhancing the viewer experience. Apple's negotiating hard for this special carve-out, and with good reason. It'd be a major blow to the company if it launched a streaming TV service that stuttered and lagged because of congestion problems.

By demanding its own lane, Apple could ensure video quality wouldn't be affected by the same problems that befell Netflix customers before Netflix signed its own partnership with Comcast to improve streaming speeds. To make any streaming TV product work, Apple needs the cooperation of broadband providers.

That's a market Apple has neither the scale nor the expertise to enter on its own, which makes its streaming TV product dependent on a third party in a way few, if any, Apple products have been before. For the first time in a long time, Apple is putting some of its fate in the hands of another company.

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