The Apple TV

Everyone and their brother is talking about Apple’s proposed “Apple TV”, in a true TV-set fashion. I was in the kitchen the other day and as I was chopping an onion, it occurred to me what they could do to make a really great TV. I often think about technology whilst chopping onions.

First, Siri on an Apple TV is possible, maybe likely, but it’s not going to be the only interface. It can’t be. As Neven Mrgan pointed out, how would you flip to a new channel if Siri goes down? What about gaming? You can’t game with your voice — “QUICK! RUN AWAY, ME!”

So here’s what I imagine:

  • It’ll be pricey, as with any Apple device, but it’ll be competitive on the high-end. Probably about $1,499 if I had to make my guess.
  • It’ll use the traditional Apple Remote. I think they, and everyone else, really likes that. It may get modified or become smarter to do things like increasing the volume, but;
  • The real remote comes on your iPhone or iPad. You can use it without, sure, but the magic happens on those devices. Now many have pointed out that you can’t easily control one screen by looking at another. Hand someone an iPad and the first thing they do is look at the iPad screen and not the TV. The current Apple Remote App is fine, but it requires a sort of disjointed brain behavior that’s hard to wrap your mind around. BUT, Apple doesn’t have to do that anymore. They introduced iPad mirroring, didn’t they? You just display whatever’s on the TV on to your iPad. When you’re done, you just put the iPad down and enjoy your show.
  • I don’t think Apple’s TV will play nice with the cable providers. It’ll use the Internet-only, which is terrifying, since that’s still the cable company (if that’s not a monopoly, it’s about to be…I bet Apple can and will fight tooth and nail on that front if it comes to pass that Comcast starts throttling data or selectively blocking channels.).
  • Since it’ll be Internet-only, I imagine a device that lets me pick shows completely on-demand, a la carte. Want Mad Men? That’ll be 99 cents for an episode or you can buy a season-pass for $9.99. In addition, Apple will no doubt become a subscription handler, allowing you to pay $19.99 a month or about $240 a year on an “all you can watch” model, like Netflix, so you can get TV and some movies. Movies not part of the subscription plan can still be rented for $1.99 or .99 cents. They may well do away with the TV episode subscriptions all together in favor of this.
  • I have to assume the folks at Apple see Netflix floundering wildly. I have to suspect Eddie Cue wants to eat them for breakfast, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they terminate their Netflix deals and go straight into their own business of selling those monthly subscriptions for access. Or, more likely, a yearly subscription so you can pay it once and forget it. Seems less like “a bill” when you do that. They’ve done that with MobileMe and now iTunes Match, so that would be consistent.
  • Sports packages have to get thrown in if Apple can pull it off, otherwise it’s not useful for a lot of people.
  • I bet HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc. can’t wait. This fits with the model they’ve been touting for years.

Apple’s devices are all about content, so there’s no reason why we have to keep falling all over ourselves trying to figure out what amazing new input method they’re going to think up. I bet it’s mostly remote control, with a little voice-control if you want to use it, just like your iPhone.

It’ll be a really pretty device, maybe with a few neat things like built-in WiFi and Bluetooth (for iPhone controllers for games?) and iCloud access. But the really good parts come from easy software and access to all the best content.

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