What's the point of AppleTV
Thu, 25 Jan 2007
I hate to say it but I think that the AppleTV is going to be a bigger flop than the Cube was... I think that the whole concept is flawed and the market it is trying to address just isn't there.
First up - what's the point? All AppleTV does is put your iTunes library on your TV. That's all. It means we in the UK can watch our music, music videos, photos, and podcasts on a widescreen TV... (Yes, it seems it has to be widescreen). Big deal. If I really wanted to do that I'd have found a cable that let me...
Of course if you are living in the US it's slightly different. They can also stream iTunes-bought movies and TV shows to your telly. Over the pond iTunes users have already bought 1.3 million feature-length films and 50 million TV episodes. I can see that people would want to watch those movies and TV programmes on their TVs, so maybe a device that makes that simple is a good idea. Or at least it would be if it didn't cost nearly £200.
That's my second point - it's far too expensive for what it does. Apple will have a hard time convincing people that streaming content from your Mac to a TV wirelessly is worth that much money...
My third point is that while Steve Jobs was proudly telling us in his San Francisco Keynote that Apple had sold over 1 million movies, I was thinking "that's a drop in the ocean compared to illegal movie downloads." If AppleTV could play these illegally downloaded movies it might be in with a chance. But it can't. Obviously Apple would never condone such behaviour!
The movie industry is just starting to notice the fact that people are downloading movies from peer-to-peer sites rather than buying or renting DVDs. There is a two pronged attack to stop the loss of revenue from this: the industry is about to start trying to get people to buy high definition DVDs – either Blu-ray or HD-DVD – so that they get extra content and better image quality for their money; and Disney and Paramount are offering movies to download from iTunes (in the US).
What the industry hasn’t noticed is that people who buy movies and these prolific downloaders of movies both have one thing in common – they do not as a rule watch the movie more than once or twice. That’s why I think the only way the movie industry is going to beat illegal downloads is by going the video-rental route and offer good quality movie downloads on an on-demand basis.
And this is my fourth reason to discredit the AppleTV. Apple and the movie industry have got it wrong. People don't want to own movies in the same way as they want to own music. We only ask for DVDs at Christmas and birthdays because we don't know what else we want. We'd be much more likely to rent a DVD from Blockbuster or download a film illegally and delete it later (well, some people would engage in such illegal activity, I wouldn't).
If Apple was going to be able to deliver On Demand content via the AppleTV then I might be a bit more keen on the idea. BT, Channel 4, Sky are all starting to hype their On Demand services and while at the moment they don't work with Macs I think that this will be the way forward...
For now though it's Apple content in Apple's format. It will be interesting to see what's in store... Mark's got some theories about that - but he'll blog about it later.
Posted by: Karen Haslam
Apple TV is only as good as the content that's available for it. Without agreements covering a wide spectrum of content, it's of minimal appeal.
The actual implementation is good. Users would have their Mac set up to automatically receive each episode of a series and as each one gets downloaded, the AppleTV will in turn sync it onto it's own HD for immediate viewing, but until such time as iTunes carries a huge range of movies and TV shows, it's nothing.
It would help if Apple could get TV stations to provide streaming video content on iTunes, much like the Internet radio stations, but that doesn't appear to be happening.
What remains to be done is not a technical challenge, it's a contractual and wheeler-dealer challenge.
Also, the market that Apple is trying to target here is far more likely to opt for either PS3 or XBox 360 as their multimedia entertainment centre.
I think most Mums & Dads would find it pretty tough trying to justify to their kids why they've bought an Apple TV instead!
The first thought I had with Apple TV was 'I don't get it'! I can't see a way of it working unless they can make the movie download costs so low as to be 'incidental'. As for blu-ray and hd-dvd, there are already utilities doing the rounds that dodge the drm on both, and so they too will be coming to a peer network near you soon. Also I am not convinced that most movie shorts available on the net would look any good on a 108cm widescreen anyway!
Considering your job is in the media, I think your blog comments are very short sighted.
If Apple release Movies and TV content on the iTunes store in the Uk within the next month, people will be able to buy content for use on this device.
Also what about our own content? You seem to think everyone is downloading illegal movies from PtoP sites. What about our own movies, encoded for convenience and placed onto my Apple TV to watch whenever I wany to?
BT, Channel 4 and Sky at this time have no intention of supporting the Mac, so we will not get on demand services. BBC have positively dumped the Mac, which makes your statements in your article even more ludicrous!
I looked at AppleTV and I both disagree and agree with you. Firstly, I bought an EyeHome box as I was fed up of moving either my PowerBook from upstairs to downstairs and plugging it into the TV just so that we could see on the TV the latest set of digital photos, or a TV programme I'd recorded with my EyeTV. Or, I'd burn the programme to CD or DVD and play it in the DVD player attached to the TV. So in this respect I can see the AppleTV succeeding, as long as it can play back stuff like EyeTV produces.
I agree that the AppleTV needs to support playback of as many formats as possible. Otherwise, we'll all be using various converters. The lack of content means that AppleTV is pretty useless for the stated intention of Apple for the device. You'd be better off getting an Airport Express to stream the music. As we don't have much HD in the UK at present then all the hoo hah about it is irrelevant. In fact where I live we only have 4 TV channels - so even more limited. I also agree wi
For me, it's just another product that only has a use if I leave it and my iMac switched on all day.
And why would I want to do that, when every day I'm told to switch-off and unplug unless I want the planet to turn into a desert?
Convenience is great but seems little reason to compromise the future.
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