Apple’s move to TV: What should we expect from an iTV?
Though the television set did not make an appearance at Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer Conference in June, Apple’s ‘push in to the living room’ is almost guaranteed to be happening fairly soon. Hints in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, Apple execs murmuring…it seems that Apple sees itself as beyond computers and mobile devices, and facilitating efficiency and positive user experience across a range of pursuits.
So, what can we expect from an iTV? This article will take a look at some rumours and match them up against Apple’s unique design philosophy.
1. It won’t be called ‘iTV’
Your iTunes, iPod, iPad and iTV? Guess again. Apple’s had little luck in gaining the rights to this name. Originally the concept name for the current Apple TV, and even shipping in so-labelled boxes, ‘iTV’ is a name stuck in the mud. Why? Part of it could be down to British broadcaster ITV’s refusal to relinquish or license that name. That seems sensible, because it’s likely that…
2. It won’t receive standard TV
Apple is best known for redefining industry sectors by re-imagining how they could work. Specifically, much of its re-imagining revolves around an ‘agency model’ for content provision. This has several key effects: most critically for the iTV (let’s keep calling it that anyway), it 1) levels the playing field – artists have a much more limited gamut of advertising avenues to pursue, and more restricted control over what they can do in them. So, artist talent has more of a role to play in making a band a success and 2) in doing so, it brings unusual and personalised content to a greater number of users. So, I predict that happening. An ‘iTunes store’ of channels – many available free, but all installable at the whim of the user. Within those channels, recordings available as a backlog – that’s right, Apple recording everything on TV – and streamable any time. Of course, all this will be iCloud-enabled – so, if it’s BT Vision HD that you want to see later in the day, you’ll be able to hook up where you left off on a completely different device.
3. It’ll play nice with existing Apple TV services
Apple so far has offered prominent positions to preferred services – Netflix, JLB, flickr. These are the doyens of industry – those currently redefining the digital entertainment sector. They make natural bed partners with Apple – or do they? Take a look at, say, Lovefilm, or iPlayer – why didn’t these guys get a look in for the Apple TV? It’s fair to say that Apple likes to restrict the choice of the user (something I wholeheartedly agree with – given that decisions involving more than four factors are at the limit of typical human ability, and any more can have a negative effect), and so those partners will have been selected based on some compatibility. Knowing Apple, money was an important one, but company ethos is also likely to be paramount. Look at Yelp and Rotten tomatoes integrated with the new Siri, the jettisoning of Google Maps as the mapping solution in iOS 6 – more than license fees are changing hands, here. And when it makes friends with a partner, they tend to stay friends as a result – it’s more important that execs can talk to each other on the same page than pursue a sign-and-leave it strategy. So, it’s likely those services will keep on pulling their weight in whatever Apple plans for its next living room surge. So, start getting ready for those tv deals and buckle up, Apple may just revolutionize modern entertainment and electronics—again.