Image via WikipediaLet me start by saying that I love my Apple TV. I also know that the Newton time line does not exactly make sense with my title but hopefully you understand my meaning here… When Apple TV first came out I did not understand it, did not think it was that interesting, and moved on. Fast forward to getting a HD TV and having lots of content to consume on my computer and wanting to see it on my TV I took a closer look at Apple TV. I eventually purchased one and never looked back. But now Apple needs to give the Apple TV some much needed attention. I even defended it recently when the Roku came out and want to elaborate on how I ended that post by stating again…Apple TV is the Apple Newton of my generation.
Apple TV is ahead of its time
The Apple TV does everything you want a set top box to do. For the technically inclined the Apple TV provides you with the interface, connectivity, and usability to solve your content viewing woes found with other options or having nothing.
The problem is that nobody understands what it does.
I cannot tell you the amount of people who get “sold” on the device after seeing the YouTube functionality, seeing it controlled by my computer and playing my iTunes music, or watching something streaming from my PC. The fact that explaining the device takes so long makes this somewhat of a marketing problem as well as we technology problem.
Now we all have some form of PDA and nobody can imagine NOT getting email on a blackberry or an iPhone – yet the Newton pioneered a lot of this thinking despite being panned by a some critics.
Apple TV works well…but its not yet great. The first iteration needed a major overhaul which happened with 2.0 but now users of the system want even more. Apple TV hacks that are out there have full fledged OSX running on the system and people want to keep pushing the device limits.
Apple Newton had handwriting recognition that was sub par and battery power that limited its use.
All of these things can and will be solved in the future.
There will be a system that does everything in the future.
For the Newton – it is now the iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc… device. Unfortunately others got there first.
For the Apple TV there is an opportunity to iterate into the answer people are looking for. The opportunity and problem still exist for the end user;
Get content from one place to my TV
Control music universally
Rent content on a TV
Browse the web and communicate centrally
and the list goes on…
As we move into the next generation of HDTV’s we will probably see more integrated solutions. The final answer to getting everything working and talking correctly is probably 2-3 years out. More and more devices are now doing the job that Apple TV dominated not to long ago. XBOX 360 now integrates with NetFlix, Sony Playstation is about to have an online component as well, Roku gives NetFlix users a set top box to watch on TV, IO devices give streaming a new service possibility too and new entrants come into the market all the time.
I think that Apple TV is a wonderful product that is misunderstood. Many people have good things to say about it – I asked my twitter friends what they thought of it and got back some positive responses but nothing negative. Certainly not noteworthy – but everyone who has one – loves them.
I know that the set top box market is about to change – but the question is now; does Apple TV have what it takes to be the winner? I certainly do not know. As the TVBox wars heatup I expect to follow them closely. Speed, convenience, and usability will be governing forces overapple newton, apple tv, netflix, roku