My problem with the Apple Television
Lately I've been thinking about the supposed Apple Television. I think there's something wrong here.
Of course this product may not exist at all but as a thought exercise let's pretend for now that this product definitely exists and is intended to be on sale in the next year or two.
The rumor mill says we're looking at an Apple Television set. Something doesn't sit right for me. For a start I can remember back in 2006-2007 before the iPhone was unveiled. I desperately wanted someone, Apple, anyone, to step in and revolutionize phones. It felt right. It was clear that hardware specs were going to increase and it was clear that mobile operating systems were not right - either they were a dumbphone OS or they were Symbian with a progressively clunky UI or they were Windows and not properly suitable for a small device. I utterly longed for someone to come in and make this right. The reason I even cared about this is because it was obvious the phones were the next step. This market was ready to grow.
Similarly at the iPad unveiling I felt the same, simply put I felt the need for this to exist in the world. I could feel it in my gut. This market was ready to grow.
I can't say the same for a television set, it feels like innovating backwards into the past instead of the future. To me, this market feels like it's ready to shrink.
Now you may say that I'm just simply not a TV/home theatre guy and you'd be right, I get excited over phones and mobile computers, I desire them. I have a slightly better than middle of the road 42inch plasma TV and no sound system. So maybe I'm wrong, maybe I just don't get TVs and maybe the mainstream out there does and would desire such a product.
But here's the thing...
I still don't feel it. Let's take this Apple Television set idea to its extreme utopian destination and imagine what we have in the world:
Let's say they unveil it next year. It's a large television set made by Apple. It has the best TV screen you've ever seen. It has a design that is truly beautiful - it makes other TV's on the market look like a mid-90's PC beige boxes in comparison. It has AppleTV from two-generations down the line built seamlessly in. It has high capacity local storage. It has content deals with everyone we want, for cable company-beating prices we have access to all the streaming content we need. And on top of that it has an interface which is something none of us have even considered - something beyond a perfectly responsive Siri, something beyond a 3rd gen kinect, something that makes us laugh at the prospect of trying to control and navigate our TVs from a couch with a remote control.
They've built the built Television in the world. You may disagree with me but I say that's not enough. I say that isn't a revolutionary product. I say that doesn't change Televisions forever. I say they've built the best television, they're on top of the competition but they're not positioned in a market that's ready to grow for decades to come. I personally don't think I would buy it. Lots of people would buy it but I don't think every household is going to have one. They've built a luxury TV.
I think we need to consider that if this product is real that it isn't a Television set at all. What if that's it, what if the thing that revolutionizes Television is that it isn't one. What if it's Apple's answer to a head-mounted display? What if it's some form of projector?