AllThingsD published an op-ed piece by Jeremy Allaire CEO of Brightcove with the engaging title “All I Want for Xmas Is My Apple TV”, which goes on to describe what an Apple Television set would be like and why Apple is most certainly building it. I think he’s close, and I like the mockups created for the article, but I still don’t think Apple is after the big screen.
The article starts off with a pragmatic acknowledgment of the issues around an Apple TV set:
Myriad issues have held back the new Apple TV, from complex dealings and integration with established broadcast cable providers to hardware design and supply issues to the necessary evolution of iOS SDKs — but we won’t be kept waiting forever. There’s every reason to expect the new product to launch in 2013. When it does, we’re likely to see massive disruption of the broadcast and gaming industries, the rise of an age of TV apps and an even stronger leadership role for Apple in software, media, communications and consumer devices.
And goes onto describe what this device might look like:
What will the new Apple TV be?
The new Apple TV will be defined by three key values for consumers:
- The best way to consume broadcast TV and any online video. A seamless touch- and TV-based interface makes it simple to consume your existing cable and broadcast content, including video-on-demand (VOD) libraries and DVR features. Via iTunes, you also get instant access to mega-libraries and subscriptions from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, not to mention YouTube. Naturally, you can also access any AirPlay-enabled videos on the Web, as well as TV apps updated with the new iOS 7 SDK.
- The ultimate game console. The new Apple TV will be a direct assault on the game console industry, with a living room platform that should leave Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony running scared. With a single launch, Apple will extend the iOS gaming distribution ecosystem into the living room and invent new categories of gaming through the interaction of iOS devices with Apple TV.
- The best way to experience all of your apps. Crucially, the new Apple TV will extend nearly every existing iOS app into being a TV app that brings the power and richness of large display surfaces to consumer computing — a task that nearly every industry titan has attempted and failed. The combination of touch and TV will ignite a new era in dual-screen software application design and development in which it will become hard to believe that Internet software was once based solely on PCs, phones and tablets.
No arguments here! I agree, that’s exactly what Apple is going for, but I still maintain that it won’t be an actual TV set but rather a much better cable box device—Apple Won’t Make a TV, They Will Make a Better Cable Box. Even Jeremy’ Allaire’s proposed specs for the set-top box are pretty much what I think they should be:
However, as we covered earlier with Jean-Louis Gassée’s take on the same ideas—A Rational Take On Apple’s Ambitions In The Television Space:
Gassée adds that since the theoretical Apple Television would essentially be a computer paired with a display, Moore’s law would make the computer inside outdated every other year, while the screen would remain just fine even years later. Since no one really wants to replace a (possibly) $1000 TV set every couple of years, the computer would have to be replaceable, bringing us back to the current Apple TV-type device.
Apple, of late, hasn’t been in the market of making anything with a five to seven year shelf life. I bought my last TV four years ago, a pretty good HD TV so I could finally enjoy Blu-ray movies through my PS3. I can’t imagine needing or seriously wanting to replace it for at least another 4 years (probably longer). Apple could come out with a TV set, but that wouldn’t be the main push. It would be the luxury item. It’s the connector box that’s key here. It’s being the bridge between your cable subscription content, iTunes content, and games. I love my Apple TV, but when we want to use it, we have to leave the world of our cable box entirely. Switch TV inputs, switch the home theater to optical in, blah, blah, blah then reverse it to get to our PVR or broadcast shows.
As much as we all want a gorgeous piece of tech engineering as an Apple Television, I don’t think something that people will buy and not want to upgrade for 10 years is a smart move. Something for less than $200 that can be replace in two or three years when better features come out, that’s Apple game.