[NEWS, FUTURE] Head of Time Warner Cable Is Unfamiliar With Apple’s AirPlay
Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg NewsGlenn Britt.
AirPlay, a software tool included with Apple’s iPads and iPhones, is widely viewed as being potentially disruptive to the cable industry, because it makes it easy for people to view a broad variety of Internet content on a television. Time Warner Cable’s leader, however, hasn’t heard of it.
Glenn A. Britt, the company’s chief executive, said in a group interview on Friday that the challenge for digital video was that there was no simple way to get Internet-based video onto the television screen. He wasn’t familiar with AirPlay.
“I’m not sure I know what AirPlay is,” he said, though he noted that he was an enthusiastic Apple customer. “Today we want to be on every screen. Today it’s a little bit clunky to get programming from the Internet onto the TV — not so hard to get it on your iPad. What’s hard is the plumbing, what wires do you connect, what device do you use. So the current Apple TV, the little thing, the hockey puck, really doesn’t do anything to help enable you to get Internet material on your TV.”
Apple pitches AirPlay as a way to make it easy to get Internet video from an iPad or iPhone onto a television, among other uses. A user can press a button while watching video to stream it wirelessly to an Apple TV box connected to a TV set.
AirPlay also makes it easy to push pirated video available on the Web onto the television, which could lead some people to drop their cable subscriptions. And it opens the door for content providers to circumvent cable and offer their own channels as apps. That gives them a direct relationship with the customer, as well as the opportunity to try new ways to increase revenue or ad sales. The Discovery Channel, ABC and PBS offer AirPlay-compatible apps. AirPlay will be coming to Apple’s computers too, in the next version of the Mac operating system, due out this summer.
Of course, while many people own iPhones and iPads, Apple TV has not been as popular; Apple sold 2.8 million of the boxes in the year that ended in September. Requiring two pieces of hardware isn’t as straightforward as getting all the content right there from the TV. Mr. Britt noted that he felt smart TVs — Internet-connected televisions that include computer chips and software — would be better than requiring an extra box to view Web content. “I hate set-top boxes,” he said.
But with many reports speculating about a coming release of an Apple-made television, AirPlay seems like something worth following.
You kind of hope this guys wasn’t hijacked, but as the head of a cable division, to not know about Airplay is a pretty poor show.