Potential Apple TV
“[Steve Jobs] very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use . . . it would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” No longer would users have to fiddle with all of your devices and with remotes for DVD players and cable channels. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”” –Excerpt from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson
Recently rumors of the Apple TV have resurfaced, many reports have pointed to “A digital survey put out by Best Buy and leaked to The Verge this weekend that asked customers to rate their interest in a $1,499, 42-inch, iOS-laden Apple HDTV. The survey listed a series of intriguing features: a 1080p LED display, iPad/iPhone remote control, and access to the App Store and the cloud, among other alluring specs. Many of these features are hardly ground breaking (1080p, LED) and the rest are to be expected. According to this listing the only difference between Apple offering and this new product is that this product is a TV not a set top box. A 42 inch television for $1499 does not get anyone excited especially when its features are currently available for 99 dollars. With one exception, the App Store.
The App Store
The App Store transformed the iPhone from an innovative and profitable product to a revolutionary product that drove Apple to become the most valuable company in the world. The App Store is the reason for the iPad maintaining a virtually monopoly on the tablet market, and although several television manufacturers have tried to replicate the app store on televisions already none of them are Apple. That sounds silly to say but, Apple has proven to be able to negotiate with companies where others have failed. Apple also has the trust of developers whom have received over 2.5 billion dollars in compensation for over 675,000 applications. The current Apple TV is hampered by its lack of customizability; what you get is what you get. The current Apple TV is akin to the original iPhone; neither had an app store but both where well suited for them. With apps though the Apple TV could compete with Roku’s superior streaming offerings and would almost overnight eliminate all of the other competition in the market.
Remote Desktop Access
The iPad has a hoast of desktop streaming apps that give the user access to there entire computer and many are highly regarded. I predict that a remote desktop access app for a tv could be revolutionary. Today many computers, most notably, the Apple Mini, are designed to be used a home theater computer (a computer connected directly to a television) but computers are expensive and it is wasteful to have a full fledged computer just to stream hulu for free or get xmbc. Apple could truly transform this space if they enable Bluetooth for the television (a feature that is standard on iPods, iPhones, and iPads) because this would enable users to connect a keyboard (and potentially a mouse) to their television. With these additions your television essentially becomes a monitor for your computer and anything that can be done with your computer becomes possible, the possibilities are truly endless.
Every computer has a DVD drive and many new computers have Blu-ray drives. One of the main selling points of Sony’s Playstation 3 is its ability to play Blu-ray discs. However, Apple is (in)famous for their forward thinking and renowned for leaving seemingly standard features out of their products (optical drives on Macbook Airs) but building in a Blu-ray player make sense on a lot of levels. First, this allows Apple to control more of the experience and eliminate an industry at the same time. Second, this feature would add value to the television and provide more justification for the televisions high price.
Best Buy has responded to the article mentioned at the beginning of this article by stating "The customer survey was a routine offer effectiveness survey conducted by one of Best Buy's research partners," Best Buy told Wired in a statement. "Any brand reference was hypothetical. The survey is no longer available." I believe that in order to revolutionize the television industry it is acceptable for Apple to start with a high price (it worked with the iPhone) but I believe that they will need to make at least a 50 inch model if not a 60 inch model. It would also not be surprising to see Apple try and make a deal with content providers or cable providers because integrating these features deeply within the Apple TV interface could be a killer feature. Regardless of whether or not Apple does this if it opens an App Store, and integrates a Blu-ray player into the television they will be well on their way to revolutionizing yet another industry.