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View Full Version : Steve on ATV as a hobby: No viable market




Michael CM1
Jun 2, 2010, 05:46 AM
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/06/02/jobs_apple_tv_a_hobby_because_theres_no_market.html

I totally agree with the annoyance of boxes. This is why I want televisions and/or BD players to come with onboard flash storage so we can run apps. Samsung and others have started this on televisions, and I think that's where the market will be created.

If the rumors of Apple creating a branded HDTV come true, this will be why. You can customize your TV with whatever apps developers make just like you can with iPhone and iPad. I think Apple would be smarter to work with existing TV makers instead of going its own route, but those guys in Cupertino make more money on their decisions than I do.



zedsdead
Jun 2, 2010, 06:15 AM
I don't mind if it's a hobby since they don't believe they can dominate the market like they do with their other products, but an updated Apple TV would be nice. It's been almost 4 years with the same hardware.

Michael CM1
Jun 2, 2010, 06:53 AM
I read somewhere that Apple was concentrating more on improving the iPhone and actually developing the iPad instead of making Apple TV better. So basically the best people and the most time are spent on other things. I also agree that it's time for a change.

One semi-good option would be a $50 or so dock for iPhone/iPod touch that would output HD video to a TV over HDMI from a dock connector and would run an Apple TV app. Your phone stays charged and you can port it to multiple TVs. You could play media off your device or over the home network. For people who already own one of those, it means no extra device. For people who don't, you get more bang for the buck. I like my dad's ATV, but it's so damn limited in its uses.

Still, in the future I would prefer the TV-based apps to resolve this market. I also want Apple to hire me to make that decision so I can afford said TV. :)

hitekalex
Jun 2, 2010, 12:28 PM
I totally agree with the annoyance of boxes. This is why I want televisions and/or BD players to come with onboard flash storage so we can run apps. Samsung and others have started this on televisions, and I think that's where the market will be created.

Just adding on-board storage into televisions s not enough "to run apps". These TVs will need to include CPU/memory/GPU/OS - all the attributes of a computer.. or stand-alone appliance.

I think it's a terrible idea to integrate this stuff into a TV. I do not want to have to replace my 60" LCD set every 2 years when its integrated CPU/GPU/DRAM components become obsolete and no longer able to run iPhoneOS 5!

I want my TV to display video via standard HDMI input and nothing else, and perfectly happy with my media extender to remain as a small, easily replaceable appliance.

jbg95
Jun 2, 2010, 12:43 PM
Steve says: "The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."

That sounds like the market opportunity to me.

So, given Steve's denial of the inevitable product release, this sounds like the next Apple TV (possibly to be announced next week).

sishaw
Jun 2, 2010, 01:19 PM
So, given Steve's denial of the inevitable product release, this sounds like the next Apple TV (possibly to be announced next week).

So true. This goes as far back, at least, as "no one wants video on their iPods," or something to that effect, about 6 months before the iPod Touch with video came out.

What Jobs really means, of course, is that no one wants it because no one is doing it right yet, and we, Apple, will do it right and create the market.

zedsdead
Jun 2, 2010, 01:25 PM
So true. This goes as far back, at least, as "no one wants video on their iPods," or something to that effect, about 6 months before the iPod Touch with video came out.

What Jobs really means, of course, is that no one wants it because no one is doing it right yet, and we, Apple, will do it right and create the market.

I normally would agree, but he also said that there are people smarter than Apple that will come up with the solution. He also still called it a hobby, and did not really hint at all that anything was coming soon. Do not expect anything, although I really hope Apple updates the Apple TV really soon.

dynaflash
Jun 2, 2010, 01:29 PM
So true. This goes as far back, at least, as "no one wants video on their iPods," or something to that effect, about 6 months before the iPod Touch with video came out.

What Jobs really means, of course, is that no one wants it because no one is doing it right yet, and we, Apple, will do it right and create the market.
LOL. I do remember that. What a hoot! Only time will tell of course. As I have said over and over reading apples tea leaves is a fools game to be sure. However I do find it odd they've kept their fingers in the living room... even though its a "hobby". Hard to imagine that if they felt there was nothing there they would still continue to keep the atv in its current form in the distribution chain. It just would not make sense. Even given its relatively antiquated hardware why even bother with support, etc. There is a cost that goes along with that. If it were dead it would be "dead" as in not available. Last I checked its still available. As with all things only time will tell.

VTMac
Jun 2, 2010, 01:32 PM
Steve says: "The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."

That sounds like the market opportunity to me.

So, given Steve's denial of the inevitable product release, this sounds like the next Apple TV (possibly to be announced next week).


You missed the most important part of what he said. He said you can't go to market because the tv market is balkanized. They can build a great device that works with Comcast, but won't work with Time Warner, Cox, or DirectTV, etc.

That means there is NO ONE SINGLE market. There are many disparate markets. Which is why it's a hobby. And why it will remain a hobby. It doesn't mean they won't rev the hardware, but it does mean they are not going to invest the kind of resources into ATV that they invest into the iPhone or Mac ecosystems.

In reality the only way this gets solved is either the industry decides it in their interest to create common standards instead of pretending to -- see CableCard for exhibit A of pretending. Or gov't can force them to. Short of either of those options, ATV remains a hobby. Just like GoogleTV will become.

dynaflash
Jun 2, 2010, 01:47 PM
You missed the most important part of what he said. He said you can't go to market because the tv market is balkanized. They can build a great device that works with Comcast, but won't work with Time Warner, Cox, or DirectTV, etc.

That means there is NO ONE SINGLE market. There are many disparate markets. Which is why it's a hobby. And why it will remain a hobby. It doesn't mean they won't rev the hardware, but it does mean they are not going to invest the kind of resources into ATV that they invest into the iPhone or Mac ecosystems.
Well, isn't that presuming that the atv in whatever iteration needs to be tied to cable/dish networks ? Now as always I may be delusional but afaik no other apple product relies on a source from another content provider besides apple itms. Of course as always as long as you want to play be apple's rules you can use *certain* software to get your own physical content on a given device. But it seems to me the idea would be to provide an alternative to cable/dish networks to make the device more appealing from a cost/benefit analysis. Naturally content availability is the lynch pin in this scenario.

jbg95
Jun 2, 2010, 02:26 PM
Well, isn't that presuming that the atv in whatever iteration needs to be tied to cable/dish networks ? Now as always I may be delusional but afaik no other apple product relies on a source from another content provider besides apple itms. Of course as always as long as you want to play be apple's rules you can use *certain* software to get your own physical content on a given device. But it seems to me the idea would be to provide an alternative to cable/dish networks to make the device more appealing from a cost/benefit analysis. Naturally content availability is the lynch pin in this scenario.

I think this will be the route, and wouldn't be surprised if there is a plan in the works. Living room TV is a critical missing link that is surrounded by solutions...iPod/iPhone/iPad platform for content delivery, apps, data. iTunes for content, Steve's relationship with Disney/ABC, having done it with record labels, etc. Google's trying to do it. And the cable industry knows they need to solve this to be part of the action.

I don't believe Apple's device will [immediately] solve the multi vendor cable/dish issue, but they (cable companies) are all trying to solve this convergence problem as well. Apple may go it alone, or partner with one (ala AT&T) to start. The cable terrain will change soon and fast, Apple will be one camp, Google another, and I'm sure MS and others will throw in a device. At the same time, Apple has plenty of content to deliver on a standalone box.

Seems to me everything's leading to this. And it's all about timing and finding an entry point into the market. We're close.

jbg95
Jun 2, 2010, 02:41 PM
You missed the most important part of what he said. He said you can't go to market because the tv market is balkanized. They can build a great device that works with Comcast, but won't work with Time Warner, Cox, or DirectTV, etc.

That means there is NO ONE SINGLE market. There are many disparate markets. Which is why it's a hobby. And why it will remain a hobby. It doesn't mean they won't rev the hardware, but it does mean they are not going to invest the kind of resources into ATV that they invest into the iPhone or Mac ecosystems.

In reality the only way this gets solved is either the industry decides it in their interest to create common standards instead of pretending to -- see CableCard for exhibit A of pretending. Or gov't can force them to. Short of either of those options, ATV remains a hobby. Just like GoogleTV will become.

That's a smokescreen. Steve likes to play the game on his terms and lurks in the background waiting for the convergence between technical capability, industry weakness (ie need to change) and market demand. The iPhone didn't need a ubiquitous single market-wide platform to make a successful entrance (balkanization issue with the cable industry noted). And I'm sure that there are more vendors than AT&T who are willing to give Apple a shot these days (shot at partnering on a product, shot in the arm...both seem to come with success :)

I just re-watched Steve's talk last night about TV and I Apple has a plan. The issues are very clear in his mind.

dbwie
Jun 2, 2010, 02:41 PM
I have an :apple:TV which brings my iTunes content to my entertainment center, and an eyeTV Hybrid and iPhone app which brings TV to my Apple products. This is plenty of integration for me. :D

VTMac
Jun 2, 2010, 03:31 PM
Well, isn't that presuming that the atv in whatever iteration needs to be tied to cable/dish networks ? Now as always I may be delusional but afaik no other apple product relies on a source from another content provider besides apple itms. Of course as always as long as you want to play be apple's rules you can use *certain* software to get your own physical content on a given device. But it seems to me the idea would be to provide an alternative to cable/dish networks to make the device more appealing from a cost/benefit analysis. Naturally content availability is the lynch pin in this scenario.

As you say, content availability is the lynch pin for ATV to be an alternative to the cable/satellite duopoly. Unfortunately all sign to date point to that being very unlikely. Content owners are becoming more restrictive of their content over time, not less. See HDCP as exhibit A, BD+ as exhibit B, Netflix denial of access to new releases as exhibit C, and the list goes on and on.

My interpretation of what Steve was saying is that the whole system is a mess. Too many remotes. Too many competing content owner interests. To many boxes etc.

Which is not surprising, since Apple, as always, is focused on a simple, pleasant user experience. In order to do that, there seem to be only 2 possible options:

1) Provide an alternative, as you describe, in which users subscribe the Apple ecosystem and get all their content that way. Unfortunately content owners seem hell bent on making sure that either doesn't happen or is so uncompelling do to lack of content availability that it never happens.

2) Provide a single replacement for all the existing crap that can do the everything that cable box, dvr, ATV, netflix, etc do in one box. That isn't technically feasible because the cable operators are going out off their way to ensure you receive an inferior experience if you don't use their box. As Steve said -- ask Tivo.

So in the end, I believe it's exactly what Steve said. Not a technical problem, but a route to market problem. You could build the greatest service ever, but if you can't get content in a timely fashion - doesn't matter. You can build the best hardware device ever, but if the consumer is still required to use other devices or it only works on a given cableco .. doesn't matter.

dynaflash
Jun 2, 2010, 04:17 PM
Well, without getting too deep I agree with most everything you are saying.
But, does it really have to be all or none ? I mean cable boxes have been sitting next to dvd players and even vhs players before them for years. I can see that the complexities of replacing the cable box is quite intense. Having said that while the cable box may not be in the trash can for most, the atv done properly could replaces the dvd/vhs box and yes, even the blu ray player in the right circumstances (not wanting to go down the 1080p rabbit hole, but you know what i mean). As well given the huge adoption of ipod/iphone/ipad the "apple ecosystem" is a fair bit wider than just mac fanatics at this point meaning that integration of a tv based device is more attractive than before I would have to think.

Early on in the itms I remember many points being raised that you are raising regarding the music industry. Now that is not to say that video will go the same way. I have no clue tbh. But I do know that may folks, myself included were quite surprised at how quickly apple was able to get content from the record companies. That has of course been discussed ad nauseum. But I do wonder. Tough call. None of us obviously really knows so I suppose as always, ultimately we just wait and see :)

GSX
Jun 2, 2010, 04:44 PM
I think Apple should just update Front Row. Make Front Row more like Plex or XBMC. Also make Front Row work universally the same across all Apple stuff. Front Row would work with Apple TV, Macs, iPads, etc. equally. No more Apple TV Front Row and Apple computer Front Row.

Also:
- Allow for more variety of codecs to be supported. Either Via iTunes or through other folders.
- Customizable Front Row interface so we can change/add menus and such.
- Allow for apps to be developed so that the different networks can make apps so that we could stream stuff directly from them like Hulu.

Front Row has not been updated in a long time. I think there is a lot of potential for Front Row to be major multimedia interface. Apple should start with this since they don't seem to keen on trying to make some new set-top box. With an updated Front Row people can use their iMacs(nice big screens), Mac Books/iPads portable easy to connect to TVs, Mac Minis(as HTPCs) to watch content from their personal collections or via streaming.

That is if Steve's talk is not all just subterfuge...