Rumors have been circulating lately about the pending introduction of the Apple TV (not to be confused with the actual current product, AppleTV). Apple has been amazingly disruptive in digital media – just look at the iPod! But, I don’t think that strategy is going to work with television.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Apple. I use a Macbook Pro and an iPhone every single day. But here’s the thing about television: the only differentiator anymore is content. Sure, you can get 120Hz or 240Hz, or even some gimmicky version of an 84″ 3D TV, but you know what I want on my TV? It’s really pretty simple: good shows and movies, when I want them, including the live stuff. Will Apple be able to deliver?
Apple: Think Different?
I recently bought a TV, and consciously chose to buy now, rather than wait.
As I said, hardware is no longer a differentiator. As long as you’re at 1080p, and 60Hz, the other differences are largely academic. It’s been suggested that the human eyes can’t tell the difference between 720p and 1080p, and little content actually takes advantage of the full resolution.
The things that matter are what’s on the TV. I purchased a Vizio, which can stream content from Netflix, Hulu+, and AmazonPrime without any additional hardware or fees on top of my existing accounts with these services. I don’t need any management software (like iTunes) and I don’t need to sync anything – each service remembers what I watched and on what device. I can stream music from Pandora (sorry iTunes), and view pictures from Flickr. I can read Twitter and Facebook, though it’s admittedly clumsy. I can even get weather and traffic.
What will Apple offer?
The rumors - for what they’re worth - indicate that Apple will be releasing a 32″ and 37″ set with iOS software and streaming capabilities. Is this really just an embedded AppleTV inside a Studio Monitor? There are rumors that we’ll see Siri used to control the interface, and even some rumors that distribution deals with major networks might be signed.
Apple has been making the “AppleTV” for years, but it only really works when you’re completely iOS dependent. If you like to use other, non-Apple services, you’re largely out of luck. Yes, it can stream Netflix, but no Hulu+ or AmazonPrime. Yes, it can view photos on Flickr, but no Twitter or Facebook. Will consumers settle for this device in the future? Or will Apple expand their offerings to meet the demands of the market?
Recipe for Success
The only way I can see an Apple TV in my future is if it does, indeed, connect to those places I already source my content from: Netflix, Hulu+, AmazonPrime, and ESPN.com. If I have to do the obnoxious “rent a movie for a set period of time and watch it within 24 hours” plan that is currently used on iTunes, I’m out. If I can’t input other devices (like my computer or a gaming console) to stream the few things I can’t find on the big services, I’m out. If I have to use some sort of shared account like iTunes to facilitate content, I’m out.
The bar is high, it’s possible, but I’m not hopeful that Apple will clear it. Yes, they found major success with iTunes and the iPod, but television is a different game entirely. Competing with OnDemand, streaming services, torrents, Boxee/Roku, and video game consoles like Microsoft’s XboxLive and Sony’s PSN means that consumers have lots of choices, and if they can’t find their content on their current platform, they will go to one where they can.
Apple’s been amazing at capturing consumers, though they have had their stumbles (anyone remember the Apple Pippin?). I have no doubt that television is a market ripe for disruption, though I have some reservations as to whether Apple is the company to do it.
Are you buying an Apple TV? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below!
I want to officially announce that I’m moving my blog from this address (shaycolson.wordpress.com) to shaycolson.com.
Some people might not ever see this post, if they usually visit by going straight to shaycolson.com. Others will have to update their bookmarks, but I’m hopeful that the transition will be an easy one, and a positive one.
This will be the last post made to this account – again – you can keep up with new posts, news, and updates, over at the new shaycolson.com.
I’ve done a fair job of keeping up with my goal of posting to this blog at least one time per day. In fact, I’ve recently eclipsed 150 posts, in less than 1 year, which is a great milestone for me. But, I’d like to say here, publicly, that I’m not sure I can keep up the pace.
In addition to being a full-time graduate student and husband, I’ve got several side projects going on that are all time-intensive, but very interesting and worth the effort, to be sure.
Several of these side projects are poised to move forward in a big way in the near future. One of my side projects already includes blogging for money, and at least two of my other side projects includes blogging – so don’t despair. You’ll still be able to read my take on things, but you may have to go three places to do so. I had thought about syndicating my other posts here, but decided against it. My side projects are distinctly seperate, and for good reason, and I feel like combining everything here may muddy the waters too much.
Instead, look to see this space emerge as a much more personal blog – covering more mundane things, but a few “impact” topics every now and then. I have some major life changes coming soon, which I’m sure will find their way into the blog.
In the meantime, I will continue to post, but likely with reduced frequency. As my side projects go live, I’ll be sure to include links and other information here so that you can follow and hopefully be a part of them. Until then, thanks for reading!
As you have probably heard by now, Google’s latest product is an entrant into the social media arena: Buzz.
I have to admit, Buzz came in a little under my radar. Usually, I’m pretty good at these sorts of things, tracking rumors, discussing potential functionality and impacts, and having a pretty good idea of how something might work before it’s released. Buzz came on totally out of nowhere.
One day I heard a rumor about a new entrant into the social networking fray from Google, the next day there’s a Buzz link in my inbox. Where’d that come from? Had Google adopted Apple-like security tactics?
And now – one week later – I’ve removed Buzz from my life and will not go back unless major changes take place. Let me give you a little run-down about why Buzz bugged me out.
- Auto-share. The reason I blog and tweet, as opposed to joining Facebook, is that I prefer to do social media on my own terms. This means sharing only what I write, and sharing it only when I want to share it. With Buzz’s auto-share functionality, I’m already following about 30 people (only 10 of which would I want to), and they’re automatically following me. I’m all for building a reader-base, but not like this. Give me a choice, Google, don’t just throw me into something out of the blue.
- Lack of integration with Twitter. Before you shout me down with the fact that Buzz does, in fact, integrate with Twitter, my problem is that it’s a one-way street. Buzz pulled my own tweets into Buzz, and that was it. That’s not what I want. In fact, that’s about the last thing that I want. I know what I wrote. I wrote it! If Buzz could pull in my entire Twitter timeline, including @ messages, and let me respond from within my GMail inbox, then we’d be talking. Until then, however, no go.
- Inbox confusion. Touted as a “feature” (as so many of these things often are) new Buzzes and comments would appear in my inbox like new emails. I live and die by my inbox, and don’t appreciate things popping in there that are not emails. I know Buzz is there, and will click on it when I feel like it. Don’t trick me into clicking over because it looks like an email. Be patient!
- Google Reader Overlap. Buzz also tried to integrate with Google Reader (another service I use frequently and am quite familiar with – even like!). The problem was that Buzz did a poor job of knowing what was read and what wasn’t, and I would end up seeing articles in my Buzz that I’d already read in Reader, and vice-versa. I don’t have time to read things twice, Google, so get it straight.
Finally, after enough fiddling, I realized that settings could not overcome Buzz’s shortfalls, and decided to remove myself from Buzz’s vice. If you’d like to, you can use the same instructions I did at this link. It seems to have worked well for me, and unless Buzz can live on like some sort of undead social-networking zombie nightmare, I don’t think I’ll be going back.
Better luck next time, Google. But don’t worry, I’ll still stick with Gmail and Reader. Just the Buzz-free versions.