Many people are waiting for Apple to fully commit to ‘fixing’ TV. Following on from disrupting the music industry with the iPod and iTunes Music Store and the mobile phone industry with the iPhone and iTunes App Store, when will Apple take on broadcast TV? Also, is their answer TV hardware or software?
“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
One of the most repeated excerpts from the official Steve Jobs Biography, ‘Jobs’ by Walter Issacson, still prompts questions. On the eve of every Apple product announcement event, we wonder whether this time we will find out what Steve meant.
Apple TV hardware
Over six years ago Apple announced their TV ‘hobby’ product: The Apple TV. A small device connected to HD TVs designed to store, stream and play back TV shows and other 720p digital content via a network-connected Mac or PC. They made a point of not promoting it as a major platform at the level of the Mac or iPod. They described it as a product that would help Apple explore future media possibilities. Apple didn’t want analysts to presume that Apple TV would be a second market-disrupting product in the same way that the iPod and iTunes Store was.
Over the years since March 2007, Apple have slowly evolved their hobby. In January 2008 a software update removed the need for a Mac or PC to purchase via the iTunes Store. Steve Jobs:
Apple TV was designed to be an accessory for iTunes and your computer. It was not what people wanted. We learned what people wanted was movies, movies, movies.
September 2010 saw the biggest change in the Apple TV: the ‘2nd generation’ version dropped the internal hard drive. It was also much smaller and much less expensive. The current 3rd generation Apple TV has a faster processor and more streaming services at full 1080p resolution.
Why does Apple TV remain simply a (very profitable) hobby for the iPhone, iPad and Mac maker? The complex TV and film market in the USA and worldwide.