For all this speculation about how magnificent Apple is going to re-invent the TV and how Jobs with his last breath decided he had completely figured it out – there is a simple truth that TV is already dead.
This is a content game and the content is for the most part terrible with rare exceptions. You get a lot of repeats, bizarre news shows and the home shopping network. The rare exception to this case is PBS (Frontline, Nova – anyone?) – there’s real content to be had still.
Whatever Jobs has figured out, it’s not what people think. I very much doubt that Job’s vision restricted itself to a screen with integrated Apple TV. Instead, the Apple founder must have thought that an Apple TV should be the control center of your home.
So, how would one add value to the existing glut of Smart TV’s and wannabe’s? Here are some thoughts:
1. FaceTime - enable that TV – yes, nothing-new whatsoever and some TV’s are even coming with Skype installed. So this is not really revolutionary more like an absolute must to extend the Apple FaceTime eco-system to Grandma.
2. AppStore - yes, that’s something that not every SMART TV can do. Then again, this requires developer to buy-in but given that the Apple TV will be powered by some form of iOS, most developers will see this beneficial – as just another channel for their angry bird clone.
3. Intelligent Assistance – Noticed that this is starting to look like a feature set from one of Apple’s latest operating systems? Well, in this case it’s Siri with a touch of TV enablement. Things like “Record all PBS shows on Monday” should be doable.
4. Control through your phone – wouldn’t it be cool if you could actually tell your TV what to record and when using your phone? Yes, that’s right – you could instruct your Apple TV to record shows even if you’re not even close by. Even better you could see the listing of upcoming shows on your iPhone or ask Siri about it. The iCloud knows how many Apple TV’s you’ve got and what they do.
5. Social – the iCloud knows a scary amount of detail about you – not just what you’re watching on TV (when it is actually released) but also where you are and what other interests (besides music) you have. Apple’s TV could leverage this to build a neighborhood network for social interaction.
6. Control home appliances – welcome to the interconnected home appliances – use your Apple TV (or iPhone) to control the lamp, the stereo, the dishwasher and even the laundry machine.
7. Innovative user input device – if you’re too lazy to hold a remote or your iPhone, then why not just wave your arms around to indicate changing the program (on your washing machine) and lower the volume (of the connected baby cam microphone). Now, I’m sure Apple wished that it had bought Kinnect before Microsoft picked them up.
In short, Apple will certainly make it a better viewing experience with all sorts of content add-ons. But the real value-add is in leveraging the eco-system and expanding it into a new direction such as social and home appliances.