Just because Apple still calls Apple TV a hobby doesn't mean that's what the set top home entertainment box really is, and with purchase of Matcha.tv, the iPhone and iPad maker may be gunning to be the Highlander of streaming content devices. Matcha, before it disappeared in May, told users which services offered the shows they want to watch, and that's something Apple could use to make the channels, networks, and online services irrelevant: Just ask Apple TV to find you a show and it does, no matter where it may live online.
Apple is moving to make Apple TV the one choice for streaming media
What Matcha offered its users was an easy way to use their iPhone or iPad to see a list of all of the places a show is available on line. For example, Archer fans could find out that their favorite show is available through the iTunes Store, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and on FX. Add that to Apple TV, and your searches for shows becomes all about what you can watch right now, and not where it's available.
The Matcha concept isn't new, and certainly isn't limited to Apple. Microsoft's Xbox already offers a very similar feature and it's something that would be welcome on Apple TV. Apple won't unseat gaming consoles like Xbox with Apple TV, but it can give other streaming content devices such as Roku and TiVo a run for their money.
Picture this: You ask Siri on your iPhone or iPad to find the latest episode of Archer. She asks if you want to buy and watch the show, or stream it. Based on your choice, Siri decides where to get the show from and it simply appears on your television for you to watch.
As Apple strikes more content deals, the number of places it can search for shows grows, and that makes Apple TV even more compelling for users because they stop thinking of content in terms of which network it airs on, or which services offer back episodes. Instead, it's all about the shows are on your Apple TV.
That's a great deal for Apple because it can sell even more of its Apple TV devices, and for content creators as well because it gives them a drop dead simple way to keep their content in front of viewer's eyes.
Since Apple won't be the first company with a product on the market that offers these types of features there has to be something that sets Apple TV apart, and that's where it has the advantage. Apple gets that simple sells, and even though there's room for improvement in Apple TV's interface, it's simple. Add in Siri voice control and watching shows takes little more effort than saying what you want to see.
Adding Matcha's features to Apple TV could help turn our iPads and iPhones into extensions of our televisions, too. The second screen idea lets TV fans watch shows on their big screen while finding more information about what they're seeing through their mobile device screen in real time. That can be used to show behind the scenes information along with other shows viewers may like, and can be a gateway to online social interaction with friends and show fans.
If Apple can make Apple TV compelling enough, it can start pushing harder to make its little set top box our go-to choice for home entertainment over options like TiVo and Roku. Apple TV is already outselling the competition, and it isn't any secret that Apple has a strong interest in the television space.
Apple may act casual about Apple TV, but that's just a diversion. The company wants our living rooms and our eyes, and it doesn't want to share. Apple will continue to methodically add features to Apple TV making it even more enticing, potentially drawing consumers away from the competition -- and that's exactly what you want when you're gunning to be the Highlander of the streaming set top box market.
[Some image elements courtesty Shutterstock]