The 5/12 announcement of Comcast's Xfinity iPad app, and comments by Time Warner that all cable operators are going to have similar offerings, looks like a big step toward a platform for Coactive TV on a mainstream basis. Two videos show the current steps.
First, this looks like a major step to position iPad (and presumably future tablets from other sources) as a well-integrated second screen for use with TV viewing. It will offer a rich remote control usable on the sofa for enhanced control of the big-screen TV, with full program guide and DVR control functions having an excellent UI, including its handy soft keyboard.
Second, it looks like a first step toward a simple coactive Social Web app. The Comcast demo shows how it lets you send an invitation to a friend, so he can tune in to the program you are watching with just a single click (if he has equivalent service).
iPad looks like a poster child for the kind of Webpad that would be an ideal second screen for Web services related to what you are watching on TV. With this device, and the level of TV context awareness in Comcast's demo, it would be very easy for the cable operators to add a full suite of coactive services. This could enable the iPad to show arbitrary Web content related to what you are watching on your TV.
Some related news that is also encouraging in using such mainstream devices as TV adjuncts is from Crestron. This leading high-end whole house entertainment control company is embracing iPad as an alternative to its very expensive custom tablet remote controls.