Thanks for trying Apple, now build me a cable box
In a report from CNN Money, it was concluded that part of the reason Apple won't build its television anytime soon is because they can't unbundle cable channels. I appreciate that Apple is trying to save me from the tyranny of the cable provider inundating me 100s of channels I will never watch, but my user interface is a much bigger problem.
The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view. While Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface, Mr. Cue's commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple's perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model.
User interface is a solvable problem. Cable package bundling is probably not going away. Either way, I don't blame Apple for it. Either way, it wouldn't make an Apple TV solution that much less compelling. My fiance and I regularly hated our cable box until we got a TiVo, and now we hate our TiVo. A certain tipping point was reached with Siri and Kinect. They raised my expectations. Its the "why can't they just . . ." problem. My fiance will jokingly say "TiVo, turn to Dance Moms . . . Tivo, turn to Dance Moms . . . you suck, Tivo." That sounds silly, but it feels so right to talk to the television rather than hunt for the remote, 5, 10, 100 clicks later, you're at your destination. Why can't they just throw a personal assistant on a DVR? I have moved across the country twice now. I don't know the numbers to the channels for half of the shows I watch regularly. And in 2012 why should I? It makes no more sense than knowing people's phone numbers, which I don't. The phone remembers for me now. Why can't I just ask the cable box to start recording Sons of Anarchy and it recognize that I either mean the next new episode, an episode that is playing right now, or the whole series? And speaking of season passes, shouldn't season passes of older shows be smart enough to arrange them so you can watch them in order? The list of obvious problems with television really isn't that long. If Apple could just build me a much smarter cable box, I'd be ecstatic.
As far as a TV set goes, I have a TV. Secondly, Apple's one size fits all approach simply won't work with TV the way it has with phones and tablets. If they want to build a television with cable box functionality built into it as a step up from the cable box, fine. If they want to build an iMac that's also the world's most awesome DVR that integrates and streams to a much better Apple TV, it would be less than ideal, but I'd go with it. But an Apple 55" DVR television will be too expensive for some or too small for other people to justify spending the money, at least if they want to dominate the way they have everywhere else.
There was a rumor that their DVR solution is to stream everything. I don't think that's the best solution for the time being. My first concern would be tying up all this bandwidth needlessly. Secondly, an Apple DVR creates the opportunity to take shows with you on your iphone because there is no technical reason why you shouldn't be able to just save the recordings in iTunes. I would gladly pay my cable bill if I didn't feel like they were standing in the way of me living in the 21st century.
Lastly, Apple is worth over $600 billion. Time Warner's market cap is under $40 billion, and I don't think they'd have to buy the whole thing to control it. If Apple believes cable bundling is such a big problem, they could buy Time Warner for the content and offer HBO as a standalone product on on their new Apple device. They could just as easily buy Disney as well. My guess is that won't happen. Not because Time Warner is a bad investment, but because Apple is growing so quickly, that buying a slower growing company like Time Warner would complicate their story.