Apple TV: The Verge Staff Just Don't Get It

After listening to the latest Vergecast (#032), I feel compelled to offer an alternate point-of-view on the much-rumored television from Apple. Joshua, Nilay and co. believe that the only way for Apple to succeed in this market is to strike content deals that bypass the cable companies, thereby enabling so-called cord cutters. They, like most tech journalists, take for granted that Apple's goal is to create a television that derives all its content from the internet (IPTV), circumventing the long-established TV content providers. I do not believe this is what Apple intends to do at all, nor do they need to.

When Apple entered the music business with iTunes, they didn't circumvent the music industry, they provided a new way for the music industry to reach its customers. This is exactly what they will do with television. The obvious answer, which the Verge staff have dismissed outright, is the CableCARD. A CableCARD enabled set that also seamlessly integrates content from the Internet as well as your home network, combined with a few other key features, becomes a very compelling product.

While it may be difficult for some manufacturers to get their devices CableCARD certified, Apple has the clout to easily push it through. I personally have owned a CableCARD enabled Tivo Premiere for nearly two years and the experience has been great. All it took to get up and running was one phone call to Time Warner. They came out the next day, stuck the CableCARD in the Tivo, and I've been happily watching and recording TV ever since.

I look at my own entertainment center and I see a whole mess of different devices. In addition to my CableCARD enabled Tivo DVR, I also have an Apple TV, a cable modem, an Apple Time Capsule (wi-fi router and network attached hard drive combination), the TV itself, plus an AV receiver and a sound bar. Imagine if Apple seamlessly combined these seven devices into one. All you have to connect is the cable from the wall, power... and nothing else.

The TV would act as both cable receiver (thanks to the CableCARD) and cable Internet modem. It would also function as both a wired and wireless Internet router. It would have hard drives that function both as your wireless backup drive (like the Apple Time Capsule) and your DVR. It would have audio processing and speakers that rival mid to high-end receivers and sound bars. It would have apps that enable pulling in a wide variety of content from the Internet including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes and others, plus apps such as weather and calendar that make it your home's information hub. It would have an iSight camera built in to allow for easy living room based video conferencing via FaceTime. It would be AirPlay enabled to pull in content from all your iOS devices and soon OSX devices. And it would do it all in the simple, seamless, "it just works" way that Apple is famous for. This would be a highly attractive, game-changing device.

None of us have any idea what, if anything, Apple will actually do in this space, but just blindly assuming that their endgame is IPTV or nothing seems shortsighted.