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.