The Future of Apple TV

Hard core techies have been able to stream online content to their televisions for years! Even as far back as 4-5 years ago you could have streamed content through XBox and manage it through Media Center. I know some several folks that are using a general purpose Mac Mini connected to a TV to streamline video podcasts and movies purchased on iTunes. The smart TV will be big in the next several years, especially since all the major technology players are heavily investing in it. Google recently announce Google TV, Yahoo! has been working for years on enhancing television viewing experience with TV widgets.

You can find internet ready connected televisions from your favorite brands at retailers like Costco and content delivery companies are partnering with anyone they can to provide on demand streaming of video content. Netflix is going through a metamorphosis process where it knowns it’s business of sending out DVDs in little red envelopes is starting to shrink ad it has partnered up with console maker Nintendo and Microsoft to provide movies and shoes on demand.

Apple wants to do to the movie and television business what it did to music, control it from top to bottom. Apple came to dominate the online music sale by a two prong approach, through iTunes music store and iPod music player. To move into a delivering movies and television shows online it needs to develop a similar approach. Apple needs both the online retail side and the television set-top box. With a mix of hardware and software, Apple can lock down to platform and lock out out players like it has in App Store/iPhone mobile environment and the iTunes/iPod music space. If Apple can get into your living room by making the easiest possible device that can stream music and movies and apps to your television it can push a lot of product.

Apple has a track record of making seamless products in terms of industrial design and user experience. This is their strength, and compared to other products in the market Apple TV will be a more attractive choice, especially for those that don’t want to read forums all day to make things work together. The only forceable set back is that people are really interested in another set-top box! Most households already have a game console, cable box, blu-ray player, and what not connected to their television set. The future of Apple TV is to make the television with the necessary hardware and software built in to connect with with it’s iTunes store. Apple has plenty of experience making hardware, it currently makes a beautiful 27-inch iMac. I could see Apple easily adding a 32-inch and 40-inch to their product line. Apple won’t just make another television, it won’t be a Vizio. I could see an Apple branded television set, maybe an iMac HDTV, with built in app support, touch enabled, online streaming, and more.

The future of the Apple TV is not as a set-top box, it’s the as a iMac HDTV! In addition to touch, it would need a new revolutionary user interface, per se gesture base a la Minority Report. This is why I’m getting an Apple TV, not because of what I can do now, but what it will be in a few years out.

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