Future of TV: Apple TV
[Part II of multi-part series on Future of TV, Part I is here]
Apple’s debut in the world of devices connected to the TV – the Apple TV has had limited success – a success so limited compared to its other product lines that the company has to label it as a hobby. I have covered my reasons on why the ATV has had a limited success but it is important to note that the challenges are something that Apple is learning from, here is what COO Tim Cook said on the last quarter’s earnings call:
“Because our gut says something’s there, we’re continuing to invest in this. But today, it’s still just a hobby.”
The iPad, on the other hand, is enjoying quite a success as a video device! And take a look at this – the size of the computing platform driving the iPad experience is very small [the interesting part is about 2 minutes from the start of the video].
Apple’s challenging experience with ATV, and their ability to bring a world of video to the iPad lend credence to the reports by Gene Munster of PiperJaffray. Gene originally talked about an Apple Television (as in the TV, and not Apple TV) in February 2009 and recently in March 2010. Gene was predicting that Apple TV (as in the current ATV box) would have DVR capabilities added by end of 2009, while that may be off mark, the conjecture in his report make a lot of sense.
Apple should redesign the ATV with the Apple A4 chip & couple it with a high performance Video Companion chip to playback high definition streams. This design then, of course, will bring the iPhone OS to the Apple TV Ecosystem along with the 200K apps (Reference to 200K Apps is towards the end in this blog post by Jobs himself on the subject of Flash)!
While Mac & iPhone application programming both rely on the Cocoa Framework developed by Apple, the Cocoa Touch framework in iPhone 3.x & upcoming 4.x will have to evolve to:
– Freeform Support in addition to Multi-Touch
– Interactivity Layer that would allow iPad, iTouch & iPhone to experience the Apple TV (think Apple TV Remote app on steroids!)
The ATV approach would allow Apple to have broader penetration in the living room compared to actually building & marketing an Apple Television – to hook up with all High Definition TVs. The content challenge, which plagues the current ATV box, would be mitigated by the content being made available on the Apple iPad – such asNetflix and ABC Player. Not to mention as more content moves to the Web with support for HTML5, enabling the Safari Browser on ATV/iPhoneOS would make huge amount of content available to consumers.
The reality is that many companies are attempting to bring Web, Apps & TV together. Apple is unique – they, as demonstrated, have a history of re-inventing products – the MP3 Player (iPod), Mobile Phones (iPhone) and Portable Computing (iPad). Apple changed the paradigm of navigation, discovery and experience with all of these product lines, and are probably the best suited to change the ‘lean back’, ’10ft’ experience of watching TV.