iTV: Possibilities and Hurdles

Since the introduction of the Apple TV back in 2007 I have always felt that the system as a whole was completely lacking the luster and desirability of all of the other Apple Products. The Feature set of Apple TV to this day is still very limited and frankly kind of useless without constantly pouring more money into programming and paid subscriptions. Given Apples current reputation for imagination and quality, so far the Apple TV is quite the contrary. The best thing I can say about the set top media center is it’s cheap and it can mirror other Apple Devices. In fact, if you don’t own other Apple devices that can utilize mirroring than the Roku box is a better option as it offers several streaming content providers and you won’t be limited to iTunes and Netflix.

I for one am under the opinion that Apple TV is a consumer experiment in order to gauge the profitability of entering the video entertainment realm. Whether or not Apple Chooses to proceed more seriously in the realm remains to be seen, but Rumors are spreading that they will launch a TV unlike anything before. A TV that will change the entertainment industry just as much as the iPod changed the music industry.

Before Apple can create a game changer they are gonna have to change the game. Currently there are several major issues with the Apple TV.

Nobody want’s to pay three bucks an episode for their favorite TV shows when they can record it on their DVR and watch it for free….sorta. The cost is also too much to just stop paying for cable and purchase all of your favorite shows individually. With the average American watching five hours of television per night at roughly three bucks an hour most of us would have to shell out 15 bucks an evening to satisfy our entertainment needs. At $450 a month, cable television seems like a much better deal.

Of the subscription services available on Apple TV, Netflix is the only Allowed option. Having only one streaming service doesn’t matter too much if it’s good but after watching Netflix for one week you’ve seen just about everything worth watching from this decade.

A good solution for this content debacle is to play along with content providers along the same lines as TIVO, but better. Combining Netflix and Itunes with Cable or satallite options would a give consumers the best of both worlds. While It’s a long shot from the always on demand Utopia, I believe Apple can deliver a user experience that would destroy today’s current content delivery systems.

Apple would do good by simply working out a way to remove the set top box from the equation. It is extremely frustrating being forced into using two remotes to run a single TV when trying to watch Cable or Satellite. The benefits would be that the DVR capabilities could be built right in, there would be only the TV and one remote. This change could clean up consumer entertainment areas considerably. If Apple has control over the DVR they can do some very intelligent things with scheduling of programs and recording. The most exiting possibility would be the integration of Siri. Imagine asking Siri to record this weeks “How I Met Your Mother” or asking to see the current scores on a football game on another channel. The possibilities are endless.

The Other exciting possibility is an iTV SDK. Part of the huge success that Apple is seeing with their current iPhone models has a lot to do with Apps. The first company to release a Television platform for Apps has a huge potential. The sky is the limit when it comes to ways apps could make the television experience better. Let the markets create good uses.

A motion detection system instead of a remote would be a really neat addition as well. Microsoft has really done a good job with the Kinect and I can’t help but imagine that Apple is currently exploring similar technology. It would be amazing to remove the remote completely and navigate your TV through motion and Voice alone.

While iTV is completely speculative at this point, The hype over a potential iTV should be enough for Apple to seriously look at it if they haven’t already started looking. As I said before, the game will have to be changed a bit in order to get a great execution for an Apple TV. For this reason, I believe it would be likely for Apple to partner up with one content provider such as Direct TV or Dish and give exclusivity rights much in the same way AT&T got with the iPhone. In this way they can change the rules to work for them and overcome the set top box and overcome resistance with on demand type services.

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