Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard that Apple plans to create a television of the future. Why not? Apple has a history of bending the status quo to do their bidding, and there are plenty of examples of past success.
Apple redefined personal computing with the Mac. Apple redefined the portable music player. Apple redefined how to buy music online. Apple redefined the smart phone. Apple redefined apps and how to buy them. Apple redefined the tablet computer.
Why not television, too?
First, here’s what I want in an Apple television.
The redefined TV must have a couple of screen sizes. Not every can handle a 55-inch screen. Apple needs to build-in Siri, the intelligent assistant (either through other iDevices, or directly into the TV itself). Voice recognition is a must.
The TV also needs a camera, but not just any camera. To differentiate itself, Apple’s television needs motion sensor capability that’s better than Microsoft Kinect. It should be able to recognize my face, and follow my face around the room.
Also important is FaceTime, which has yet to hit the big time like Skype. Despite Skype, iChat, AOL, and FaceTime, video calls haven’t quite caught on with the great unwashed masses. An Apple television could set the standard for video calls.
Of course, Apple needs a television screen that is higher quality than Samsung or Sony or other wannabes. That’s a given. I envision a giant, 16-9 aluminum clad iPad hung on the wall. And it can be operated by iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or iPad.
All of this is within Apple’s capability. Add television specific apps to the mix, and Apple has an entertainment and information powerhouse not easily copied by Samsung (not that they won’t try– the only thing they haven’t copied yet is Apple’s logo and cool).
Finally, the killer app is content. On demand video from every content producer. Forget having a built-in Digital Video Recorder. Who needs a DVR when everything is on demand. Open up a network app and stream everything they have, on demand, when you want it (I’d even settle for watching their ads).
Sounds good, right? Here’s why it won’t work.
Apple can build television hardware to make you drool. Apple can integrate all the apps you’d ever want or need, and open the platform to third party developers.
What Apple can’t do is what Apple failed to do with the iTunes Store. Control content. It’s not that video content and distribution isn’t ripe for an Apple-induced redefinition. It is. But it’s a Balkanized mess that’s more akin to herding cats than building the next generation of home entertainment and information.
Content producers and distributors are deeply in bed with networks, Walmart, satellite, and cable television. The money trail is deep, long, and so intertwined that Apple’s best will not matter. Apple cannot crack the beast of television and movies.
To do so would require a television (and phone and table and PC) platform so compelling, so attractive, so affordable, that it quickly attracts the attention and love and numbers of the masses of people who hate their satellite or cable providers, and are willing to jump ship to something better.
In other words, Apple must provide a better platform of content, and that’s just not possible. Today.
The iTunes Store worked for music, but not TV shows or movies. Content is the nut that Apple must crack. Otherwise, all we’ll get is an expensive TV with an Apple logo stuck on the front.