Apple TV: Not Quite An Assault, But . . .

Apple TV itself was a bit of a curiosity – at $99 it was an easy-to-purchase curiosity. But it didn't exactly overwhelm the critics.

Well Apple hasn't given up on TV.  Here's a roundup of Apple's upcoming plans, courtesy of the WSJ. There are some skeptics to say the least.

An Apple venture into TV full force would mean economic, cultural, and employment shifts, so of course I'm curious. There's also breathless speculation about how Steve Jobs somehow "finally cracked" the TV problem before his death. Considering the potential impact, progeeks like ourselves need to keep up on this.

However I find myself pretty much in agreement with Philip Elmer-DeWitt. Apple's products are evolutions, so there is nothing new and radical – we'll see an evolution of what's already out there.

I'd actually add I think this is one reason for Apple's success – they deliberately evolve and build on technology where many others start from scratch or throw some new code around the old and declare it done.

Elmer-DeWitt does a pretty good job of summing up the basic idea – the new Apple TV will be the old Apple TV evolved, but I'd add my own thoughts – and their impacts.

  • Apple will do something with TV. They've had their first venture and they can't avoid it. Apple TV: The Sequel is coming.
  • I agree Apple will build on Apple TV, since it's what they do. If you're a developer who wants to work with or on Apple technology in video, study up on it now.
  • Cross-platform integration will be a big feature of theirs, and a big selling point. No one else has this level of potential integration yet – but they'll want to build it. You could help.
  • Apple will rely on brand loyalty and reputation to sell this. That could mean that quality issues may not be the biggest factor affecting sales, which would mean predicting the market is harder.
  • Apple can't fail at this – really just not succeed too well. This gives them leeway, and they may play long game here. They may leave it to others to fail, not to themselves to succeed.
  • It's clear that the future of television is going to be different and unusual controls. I think it's clear that Apple already is focusing on voice commands. The media box battle of the near future will be Neo-Kinect versus Neo-Siri. Microsoft's hackable Kinect was a field day for them, making it popular and helping people learn, An advantage Apple does not have and is unlikely to cultivate.
  • Video is so clearly the future battleground, we can expect all sorts of nasty legal battles. You can be sure all sides in this are already prepping legal teams, and what happens here could have legal impact for years if not decades.
  • How non-big name distribution works in our video future will be important to the efforts of people not affiliated with big (or medium) studios. You need to follow this very carefully if that's you. It's also possible that someone (possibly Google) will see the long-tail potential in the smaller producers and take advantage of that, using small-scale creators as an edge.
  • Timeframe for the next Apple TV? I expect an iteration before next Christmas.
  • I figure Apple is already working on this, so I'm not sure how many employment opportunities it will bring, but I suspect there could be an increase after the next iteration.
  • I think it'll be likely that the future App TV will carry apps, which would be an opportunity for developers, depending on the restrictions.

Steven Savage