PED On Apple TV

  • Posted: 22 August 2010 10:06 PM

    PED on Apple TV.

    Take a look. I’ll be spending some time in the comment section on that column a bit later today.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 12:54 AM #1

    Who thinks we’ll see a new Apple TV in times for the holidays?

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 01:08 AM #2

    DawnTreader - 23 August 2010 01:06 AM

    PED on Apple TV.

    Take a look. I’ll be spending some time in the comment section on that column a bit later today.

    Thank you for starting this thread. I have been preparing a long response to PED’s column which I may post here instead. I don’t think I will be able to finalize my thoughts for tonight, but I hope to perhaps kick start things in the morning.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 01:34 AM #3

    FalKirk - 23 August 2010 04:08 AM
    DawnTreader - 23 August 2010 01:06 AM

    PED on Apple TV.

    Take a look. I’ll be spending some time in the comment section on that column a bit later today.

    Thank you for starting this thread. I have been preparing a long response to PED’s column which I may post here instead. I don’t think I will be able to finalize my thoughts for tonight, but I hope to perhaps kick start things in the morning.

    Post away!

    I would expect a media event to announce a new product, especially a product that might have content deals involved.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:16 PM #4

    I?d like you all to view this as more of a thought experiment than a post. I spent far too much time on it. When I started, I had hoped that writing my thoughts out would bring me clarity. I was able to discard some ideas and clarify some ideas. But in the end, I?m left with some pretty significant questions.

    Still, I?d like to post my thoughts for two reasons. First, I hope that you all will provide me with useful feedback and show me the error of my ways. Second, sometimes it is useful to document what we were thinking BEFORE a product is announced. Afterwards, we have a sneaky way of conforming our thoughts to reality and retroactively re-remembering our predictions. So here goes.

    WARNING: This is going to be LONG. So long, in fact, that I?m going to break it into three discrete posts.

    Part 1

    For over two decades, Microsoft and most everyone else has been trying to connect the computer or the internet to the big screen TV. So far, all of these efforts have failed and failed miserably. Everyone knows the profit potential is enormous, but no one has been able to successfully tap into that potential. Why have they failed? And why would we expect Apple?s latest entry to fare any better?

    There are (at least) three reasons why computer/internet to TV has failed in the past: 1) The tyranny of the content carriers and creators; 2) the aping of ?real? computers and the ?real? internet; and 3) inadequate interfaces (remotes).

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:17 PM #5

    Part 2

    1) The Tyranny of the Content Carriers and Content Creators.

    Right now, most modern homes have three forms of digital content being ?piped? into (and out of) their homes: phone, television, and internet. These ?pipes? are redundant. All content could be received via a single data ?pipe?. By dividing digital content into three separate streams, the cable, phone and satellite carriers have been able to charge us three times for a single service.

    Consumers have already begun to recognize and remove this redundancy with regard to their phone services. Twenty years ago, everyone had a ?land? line. Slowly, as mobile phones dropped in price, many consumers began to pay for both a land line and a wireless phone connection. Over time, more and more consumers, recognized that their land line and their wireless services were redundant and took the next logical step: they disconnected their land lines and transferred all of their phone traffic to their wireless carriers. As a result, phone providers have watched their land line revenues wither away as more and more consumers switched to wireless only solutions.

    Why hasn?t the same thing happened to cable/phone/satellite TV? After all, the internet is perfectly capable of providing any content we currently obtain, not only to our TVs, but also to our phones, tablets, notebooks and desktop computers. It seems only logical that we would stop paying our TV bills and switch our loyalty to the internet where we can enjoy both television content and internet content.

    The problem is that in television, content is king. Television and movie studios create the content, carriers pipe it into our homes and we, the consumers, pay a king?s ransom for the privilege.

    Every effort to alter the way we watch TV or to move TV content to the internet has failed because all of those efforts contain a fatal flaw - they require the cooperation of the content carriers or content creators. And content carriers and content creators are simply not going to approve any stratagem that may kill the goose that lays the subscription TV golden eggs.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:18 PM #6

    Part 3

    2) ?Real? is not what we really want.

    One of the biggest mistakes we have collectively made over the years was to assume that we wanted our phones, our tablets and our TV?s to work just like our computers worked. The first key to putting our computers and the internet on our phones, tablets and televisions is to stop trying to put ALL of the functionality of our computers and the internet on those devices and to, instead, only transfer those functions that are appropriate for those devices. The second key is to use an appropriate input solution. I?ll discuss this in more detail, below. This idea is so counter-intuitive that even now, as the iPad pounds this lesson into our collective skulls, we continue to resist it?s teachings.

    Despite what industry titans, media pundits and ordinary people think, we DO NOT WANT the whole internet on our TVs. We do not want to read articles, to type searches one painful letter at a time, to ?surf? the net using clumsy remote controls, or to listen to music only on our TVs.

    In fact, recent research makes it clear that we want to do a lot of those things AT THE SAME TIME that we are watching our televisions. Why, for example, would one want to surf the internet using your a TV when the iPad is a better, more personal way of accomplishing that same task and when one can both surf the internet on their iPad AND simultaneously watch TV?

    What we DO want is to watch television shows and movies and to occasionally display selected internet content on our larger and more social television screens.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:19 PM #7

    Part 4

    3) Interface interference.

    Input devices are supposed to assist us in working with our electronic devices, not torture us. Computers use keyboards and mouses. TVs use remotes. Tablets use touch. None of these interfaces, as they currently exist, will successfully allow us to intuitively interact with our TVs in the same way that we interact with our phones, tablets or computers.

    Keyboards are out. No one expects us to sit on our couches and use keyboards to type information onto our TVs.

    Remotes are a non-starter too. Remotes suck even for watching regular TV. The Comcast remote control on my coffee table has 53 buttons. Fifty three confusing, redundant and mostly useless buttons. TiVo and Apple have better, simpler remotes. But they still haven?t solved the basic limitation inherent in all remotes.

    All remotes rely on scrolling up, down, left or right to navigate a menu driven interface. This can take for bloody forever. Functional it is. Fun it is not. Using a remote for a TV is irritating. Using it to add computer and internet functionality to a TV is insanity.

    What about touch? When the iPad came out, I began to think that a giant trackpad type of remote control might be the perfect solution to intuitively navigating the TV. Unfortunately, as I considered it, I realized that this would not actually be a touch interface, but more akin to a mouse interface. Touch is direct and intuitive. The eye watches the finger and the finger directly interfaces with the device. A trackpad is only a representation of touch. With a trackpad, the finger touches one thing while the eyes watch the effects of that touch on another thing - a computer monitor or a television screen. A trackpad may be better than a remote, but it is still a step more distant than the direct touch.

    And a trackpad doesn?t solve the problem of text input. If people think the iPad is non-functional because it doesn?t have a ?real? keyboard, what must they think of an input device for the TV that doesn?t have a keyboard at all?

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:20 PM #8

    Part 5


    Steve Jobs has a way of breaking an industry into its constituent parts and then recognizing which of those parts really matter. As his critics so often point out, Apple seldom invents anything. But they are the masters of reinventing markets and taking them from niche to mass market.

    Suppose Apple sold a set top box for $99 that connected your iPad to your TV? What might that accomplish?

    1a.) The end of the Tyranny of the Content Carrier.

    What if everything that you could put on your iPad you could also put on your TV - iTunes (music, television, movies), Apps, the entire internet? The possibilities would be endless.

    It would completely bypass the content carriers. Instead of relying upon cable TV for your content, you would get all of your content - YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, ABC, HBO, etc. - through your internet provider.

    1b.) The end of the Tyranny of the Content Creators?

    What if Apple went one step further and, for $99 dollars a year, provided iTunes television and movies for free or for a minimal cost and subsidized the programming using iAds? Now the content providers are mollified and the content carriers are cut out of the loop entirely.

    2) You can?t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you need.

    What if iOS4 on the iPad allowed you to pick and choose select portions of the web and display them on your TV? You wouldn?t have the whole web on your TV. Only the parts that mattered.

    3) The iPad as a remote.

    What if your iPad was your TV?s remote control? The iPad would make the biggest, badest remote control of them all. All navigation and input would be accomplished using the iPad?s touch interface. You wouldn?t look at your TV to manipulate the content on your TV. You would look at and interface directly with your iPad. No more tedious letter by letter searches. No more relying upon the user interfaces provided by the phone, cable and satellite ?orifices?. You locate content on your iPad, hit a button and - zap - it?s displayed on your TV.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 08:21 PM #9

    Part 6


    This solution still requires the cooperation of the content providers. Right now there is not enough content on the internet to allow most users to give up their TV subscriptions. Even the addition of an iTunes TV subscription might not suffice if critical programs - like sports events - were missing.

    Are the content providers finally willing to risk their old streams of revenues from the content carriers in order to gain lucrative new streams of revenue from the internet? Don?t know.

    And what?s up with using the iPad as a remote? Who?s going to spend $500 for a remote control?

    I?m betting, a whole boat load of people will. Many people will have the iPad already and will see Apple TV as simply an extension of their iPad. Others will see that buying an iPad will give them all the functionality of Apple TV and all the benefits of owning an iPad as well. From Apple?s perspective, Apple TV will sell a ton of iPads and make the product incredibly ?sticky?. Who?s going to want to buy a tablet competitor when their iPad and their TV are joined at the hip?

    Finally, what about Apps? Most people expect to see Apple TV put iOS apps on the TV. I?m not so sure. It sounds like a great idea. But again, there?s the interface problem. No remote control currently in existence would allow the user to interact with their TV the way they currently interact with their phone, their tablet or their computer. Putting an iPad app on a TV is as dumb as putting Windows 7 on a tablet.

    I think the new Apple solution sees the TV more as a mere display than as an interactive device. Would this be a disappointing limitation? Yes. Would critics claim that it made the new Apple TV useless. Of course. But the same kinds of things were said about the limitations of the iPad. And look how that turned out.

  • Avatar

    Posted: 23 August 2010 08:55 PM #10

    FalKirk nice detailed look.  As an owner of an Apple TV, I am mostly happy with what it provides, but the only thing it got rid of was the DVD Player and it is a royal pain to encode all your movies.  What if Apple was to provide a service.  You send in your movie disks or digitally validate somehow and you can stream that movie to any of your devices via Apple.  Rather then a direct assault on the set top box and the cable monopolies we convert all your existing content to cloud streaming and you can still buy/rent movies via Itunes watch Utube and other internet content.  Non-Flash of course.  The next Apple TV should be based on the A4 or follow on A5 so the core software will be based on iOS.  Which opens the possibility for use as a casual gaming machine if Apple opens an SDK.  How about we provide a natural language based interface using the SIRI technology.  Hey what time is the Tiger game?  Can you record that for me?  Oh I’m heading out can you move the feed to my iPad.  Maybe we throw in a genius function.  You watch alot of CSI, you should try NCIS it’s on in 10 min.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 09:12 PM #11

    I’m still of the (lonely) opinion that the rumored 7-inch iPad will really turn out to be a touch screen AppleTV.

    Using my MacBook Pro, the Apple bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad, I can play content on my laptop on my HDMI connected TV [via a Henge Dock]. I can also use the browser of my choice to surf the internet, but rarely do so; so I suspect that if an AppleTV didn’t provide that function I wouldn’t care.

    I think what Apple needs to do is create something akin to the TV Guide that various companies lease: a graphic representation of what’s on, typically as a grid. You touch the blocks of time to program the sets automatically changing channel or recording the programs to an attached DVR. Non broadcast programing can be streamed via iTunes?movies, previous TV shows you missed, pod casts, music videos, MobileMe content of your own or family.

    iOS games would be fun for those into that format, but the majority of iOS apps wouldn’t really be suitable for a large screen, or are phone specific or photographic.

    Whatever the “pad” may do, if it’s in your lap, then it has to communicate to another device plugged into the TV. If it tries to be a Universal remote, accessing the TV’s normal controls, that’s a waste of the touch interface. To provide Apps or games the device has to be a physical in put (via cables) or communicate to a second device that is.

  • Posted: 23 August 2010 11:45 PM #12

    Excellent thought provoking post Falkirk. I’ll still need to put some thinking behind several of those concepts. It’s been at least a couple of years since many of us have been speculating that Apple making a move to the ‘digital living room’ would be the major assault that puts the Apple ecosystem over the top as iPod touches, iPhones, iPad, and Macs all play an integrated role in the family’s digital life. One key thing that I believe is paramount in all Apple success story is your sentence, “Steve Jobs has a way of breaking an industry into its constituent parts and then recognizing which of those parts really matter”. It’s this focus on the ‘key experiences’ and making them clearly superior, while at the same leaving or delaying less important experiences is a prime Apple success factor in my opinion.

    Quick thought on iTV, I’ve been guessing that it will have to include a basic touch remote that comes out of the box. This will not only act as the basic TV remote, but because of the accelerometer and gryo, makes a nice gaming remote. Superior interfaces will come via iPod touches, iPhones, and the grand-daddy of them all—iPad. That basic remote maybe explains those little touch screens that we’ve seen from Asia with the Apple name on them. Since the new iPhones and touches will have the gryo too, you can tell that I’m suggesting Apple is going to sell a lot of units this holiday season on the premise of being a great family gaming center in addition to an Apple TV.

    Anyway, the real purpose of my post is to see when AFB thinks we’ll see an iTV announcement? I’m feeling very aggressive with AAPL at 245, and with a pre-announcement classic Apple “hype rally” in the offing, I’m ready to make some trades. At the same time, I’m feeling rather bearish re: the economic headwinds and Im ready for poor home sales, employment, and GDP numbers this week. Timing will be critical during the next days and weeks.

    Is iTV a ‘one more thing’ at the new iPod announcement in mid-September? If not, do we lose some ground after it isn’t announced? Does it follow with an October announcement, or does it not even get released this year? Right now, I believe it’s a ‘one more thing’ at the iPod show and the media will then have enough time to raise public awareness before the actual release. If the iPod is a smart remote there is a tie-in that doesn’t totally drown out the iPod itself.

    Even if there is no iTV this year, this holiday quarter will be nearly unimaginable for the kind of sales we are going to see. If you add iTV to the mix…it’s almost scary.

  • Posted: 24 August 2010 01:14 AM #13

    cranium - 24 August 2010 02:45 AM

    (T)he real purpose of my post is to see when AFB thinks we’ll see an iTV announcement?

    Wow, that is a great question. The rumor mill is going crazy, but I tend to totally discount rumors because 99 out of 100 are nothing but smoke. But I have to admit that the constant hum of rumors has peaked my interest. And on The Talk Show podcast last week, John Gruber seemed to feel that a Fall release was a real possibility. And Gruber is not a man to be taken lightly.

    But predicting a Fall release of a significantly new Apple TV so soon would be like Christmas in September. Apple is already selling the iPhone and the iPad as fast as they can make them. They only introduced the iPad in April. They’re expected to add two FaceTime capable cameras to the iPod Touch in September. Could they really be preparing yet another major initiative this soon? I want it to be true. But I find it hard to believe that they’re capable of making this many major changes this fast.

    I’ll tell you this. If Apple is able to add a game changing Apple TV to their line up for the holiday season - well, I’ll leave it up to the esteemed members of this board to tell me how much money they’re going to make. My calculator simply doesn’t go that high.

  • Posted: 24 August 2010 06:32 PM #14

    Apple Reportedly In Talks On 99-Cent iTunes TV Show Rentals
    Posted by Eric Savitz
    Apple (AAPL) is in ?advanced talks? with News Corp. (NWS) to allow iTunes users to rent TV shows for 99 cents an episode, Bloomberg reports. Also in similar talks with Apples, the story says, are CBS (CBS) and Disney (DIS). Note that the largest single Disney holder is Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

    The piece also says that Apple plans to introduce a new version of the iPod Touch with a higher res screen, as well as a $99 version of the Apple TV set-top box that will aimed streaming content .

    Can you feel the momentum?

    You should as it’s building towards everything Apple.


    Inflation robs from the past, deflation robs from the future. Pick your poison.

  • Avatar

    Posted: 24 August 2010 07:07 PM #15

    Dan Frommer over at Business Insider is reporting that the all you can eat monthly subscription offer however is dead.