Since the Apple TV launched in 2007, users and pundits have clamored for the Cupertino, CA-based widget and media giant to add digital video recorder (DVR) and cable box features. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs has steadfastly claimed that the device is only a “hobby,” a fact borne out by the company’s relative inattention to the device.
However, when Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook told breathless analysts that 2008 holiday Apple TV sales tripled over 2007 with virtually no promotion and hardware unchanged for over a year, pundits and users alike took notice. For its part, BusinessWeek has published a two-page spread detailing the hows and whys of turning the Apple TV into the mothership’s fourth major product line.
Cable? We don’t need no stinkin’ cable!
As the recession bites home and discretionary income whithers, CNN reports that more and more people are turning off cable and getting their TV online.
“We were already consuming a good portion of content online, and a quick survey of media sites allowed us to determine if those shows we were most interested in watching could be found online,” said Corey Wynsma, who has turned off cable TV in an effort to save money. “In almost each case, the answer was yes.”
Although Hulu, Joost and others get the most mainstream media attention, the geekerati are all a twitter over Boxee (Apple TV, Intel Mac), which pulls together those services, cable channels, network programming, Last.fm and even Netflix, as well as content stored on users’ computers, into a single interface that’s driven by social networking paradigm.
Too many buzz words? Forget the marketing and just get it. You can reduce your spending and keep watching your favorite shows.
“Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi says Apple should turn Apple TV into a full-blown cable box,” writes BusinessWeek pundit Arik Hesseldahl. “… Apple could do that via Tru2Way, a cable industry-backed effort to let consumers buy their own cable TV boxes at retail locations, rather than having to rent them directly from the service provider.”
Could set top box-like functionality plus Apple TV’s current features, as well as the flexibility to watch content from any source (see Boxee above), turn Steve’s little hobby into a billion dollar business? No matter how beautiful the idea sounds, it is hard to imagine the cable TV industry, Hollywood and Apple agreeing on so much functionality in one little box. Still, if anyone can do it, Apple’s our best bet…
What’s your take?