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Old May 22, 2010, 05:42 AM   #1
ipedro
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AppleTV: no longer a hobby

AppleTV's hobby period is over.

The announcement of Google TV has effectively forced Apple to make a decision. Given Tim Cook's insistence that Apple plans to continue supporting AppleTV, there is no other possible response: Apple will have to show their hand in the very near future, possibly as early as next month's WWDC keynote or a dedicated event before or after.

Apple can't keep the future of their TV device low key for any longer or they will be obliterated by Google. They might as well close up the shop on AppleTV if they plan on keeping it a hobby.

The following is my opinion on an appropriate response that will position AppleTV as the market leader:

- AppleTV hardware - Steve Jobs announces upgraded hardware with an A4 chip and no HDD, just enough cheap solid state memory for streaming. No HDD, a simple assembly with few parts and a system on a chip allows Apple to sell AppleTV for $99.

> Advantage: Apple - Mac's, iPods, iPhones, iPads haven proven that consumers are willing to pay a premium for sexy kit. If it's as inexpensive as $99, Apple will have a hard time keeping up with demand. Apple controls both the hardware and software. Google does not.

- iTunes - leveraging the major lead they have in the market via iTunes, Apple will continue to push the iTunes ecosystem for paid, ad free content. Buy per episode or per season, ditch the cable box (and subscription) in the process.

> Advantage: Apple - Google TV still requires you to have a cable/satellite box and continue to pay a monthly fee for content, most of which you never watch.

- iTunes Cloud (Lala) - The large libraries that people have accumulated for their Mac's, then their iPods, then their iPhones, then their AppleTV's, then their iPad's has locked those users into iTunes. Porting all that media into the cloud so that it's available on any (Apple) device, -- anywhere, without syncing -- will allow AppleTV to take advantage of that huge established base.

> Advantage: Tie - Both Apple and Google are new to cloud media storage, Apple having bought Lala and Google having purchased Simplify. Apple does have a slight advantage due to their experience in streaming trailers for many years and now streaming movie rentals. Nonetheless, in the cloud space, both are starting at a similar level.

- App Push - Here's the big one: leveraging all the iPhones, iPod's and iPad's in people's hands today makes them the perfect controller device for the AppleTV today. Taking that a step further, iPhone OS 4.0 will enable any app to be pushed to any screen via AppleTV.

This will instantly populate AppleTV with 200,000 apps. There is no need to have developers program for yet another platform, allow them to simply format the layout of the same app for a TV.
For existing apps, AppleTV's OS will translate them to be viewed on a TV appropriate layout, rather than a mirror of what you see on your iPad/iPhone/iPod. The AppleTV translation will be standard for all apps but developers can program their Apps to override this layout and provide their own, built within the app. For example, there is no need to display buttons on the tv screen, just the content.

iPad ready apps already provide HD resolution layouts. These can be effortlessly translated to an AppleTV layout.

Most importantly, App Push will bring Safari browsing to AppleTV. You can already navigate any* site on your iPhone or iPad via mobile ready sites (and existing ones). The mobile layout will be displayed on your mobile device while the full screen layout is simultaneously displayed on your TV.

> Advantage: Apple -- 200,000+ apps is one hell of a head start.

We can all be sure that Apple has already figured out a strategy to implement in case any player gets a strong foothold in the TV market.

Now is the time to deploy it.
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Old May 22, 2010, 06:41 AM   #2
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This is exactly what should happen. NOW!
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Old May 22, 2010, 06:54 AM   #3
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If this happens I will love it I had an TV and returned it as it wasn't all that good IMO (got Mac Mini instead) but if this happens then I can see it doing what you said ipedro and much more

Screw google!
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Old May 22, 2010, 06:56 AM   #4
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Old May 22, 2010, 07:08 AM   #5
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The TV has needed sorting out for a long time now. New hardware with its own App Store would help. I had high hopes when I read that Apple were interested in fixed iTunes subscription rates, but that hasn't gone anywhere.

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Old May 22, 2010, 08:06 AM   #6
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These sound like great ideas. I'll throw in my two cents though. I think what we really need is a hardware refresh. Upgrade to 1080p native and more onboard storage. Cloud based innovations aren't that compelling to me thus far, mainly because anything worth watching makes file sizes prohibitively large for streaming.

I'm not sure running apps on the TV would be anything more than a gimmick...but I'm willing to be persuaded on that point. At any rate, while I'm hoping that this development will result in a renewed interest in TV, history shows that these type of devices are doomed to enjoy niche status at best. Who knows, maybe this time will be different
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Old May 22, 2010, 08:45 AM   #7
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I don't think you'll see an Apple TV without a HDD regardless of what direction Apple takes with it. They want you to buy content directly from iTunes and download it to the box. As great as "renting" movies is via iTunes, Apple's real hook there is getting people to buy movies that can only be played on the Apple TV.
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mach1.8 View Post
These sound like great ideas. I'll throw in my two cents though. I think what we really need is a hardware refresh. Upgrade to 1080p native and more onboard storage. Cloud based innovations aren't that compelling to me thus far, mainly because anything worth watching makes file sizes prohibitively large for streaming.
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I don't think you'll see an Apple TV without a HDD regardless of what direction Apple takes with it. They want you to buy content directly from iTunes and download it to the box. As great as "renting" movies is via iTunes, Apple's real hook there is getting people to buy movies that can only be played on the Apple TV.
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.
I tend to agree that this a where Apple is headed. Currently though, the Apple TV struggles to stream HD, so one of the biggest thing that is needed is new hardware. It is SO outdated it's ridiculous.

I hope Apple has been preparing something. If not, it could take over a year before we see something.

It also better work better than Back to My Mac, which largely doesn't due to all the router configuaration that is necessary. Hoepfully it is as seamless as iTunes Home Sharing.
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.
While that certainly sounds interesting, I remain skeptical. Don't get me wrong, I would fully embrace such a paradigm IF it worked as advertised. My gut feeling is there is a long way to go before we have the ability to reliably stream HD content from a centralized location, particularly if the content source computer is off (I'm not really sure how that would work).

I guess the key word here is reliable. I've been working that problem for years now with limited success. Streaming SD over a N wifi network has, to date, been great. Upgrade to higher bit rate HD and problems start to occur.

I concede that a hardware and software upgrade could help to solve this problem though. If it does come to pass, looks like I'll be getting a new toy for the living room
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Old May 22, 2010, 01:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.
That's an interesting theory, but I still don't think we'll see an Apple TV without a HDD for the same reason we're not going to see all the iPods without local storage. The ability to buy content directly from iTunes without having a computer be an intermediary is a big deal for a lot of consumers (right now anyway). Adding the extra step of needing to sync the Apple TV with a computer (which is available right now, but not absolutely necessary) will turn off a large segment of the population that just wants to plug a box into their TV and watch a movie.
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Old May 22, 2010, 01:51 PM   #12
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I guess the key word here is reliable. I've been working that problem for years now with limited success. Streaming SD over a N wifi network has, to date, been great. Upgrade to higher bit rate HD and problems start to occur.
I have 3 TVs and stream HD content to all of them,at the same time, over a wifi N network, with no problem at all.
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Old May 22, 2010, 02:34 PM   #13
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I like my current Apple TV but I do agree that it needs to be taken to the next level. I think the premise is sound and I love the small hardware form factor of the device.

Many people don't understand what an Apple TV is... which is why I believe it has been unsuccessful. Secondly, it is an expensive proposition to really make use of it. I first bought a large external hard drive to store all of my iTunes, movies, tv shows on. I then also bought an Apple TV. Without the drive space, a good digital library was going to be impossible. Why buy an Apple TV if you don't have enough disk storage?

With the introduction of streaming services this eliminates this problem for the short term. You can buy the device and immediately start using it with no issues. If you decide to purchase content, Apple needs to do a better job helping the consumer figure out how to store it or at least provide a good set of options. Most people have no idea how to hook up an external drive.

Lastly, I do love Youtube and all of the free content it provides. Still, it is owned by Google and Apple needs something similar to be competitive.
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Old May 22, 2010, 02:47 PM   #14
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I think the Apple TV just needed marketing a year or two ago. Anyone who has one or visits a friend with one will love it (at least relative to the price). The problem is nobody sees them in action.

That said, Apple does now need to make a splash of some sort to avoid being buried by the Google-Sony-Best Buy combo. My recommendation is simpler than the OP's.

1 - better chip, and better hardware as needed to support 1080p. I don't actually think 1080p will matter in buyers' lives, but I think some people will reject buying a device that can't do it.

2 - at least two pricepoints - one that's cheap with low capacity, oriented toward streaming; another with more capacity for holding digital libraries. The cheap one should be $149 and the more expensive one should be $299.

3 - an Off button ...okay, this wouldn't actually help with sales, just a major pet peeve.

4 - a better remote - not the greatest remote ever made - just something that doesn't look like a toy and get lost easily.

5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN
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Old May 22, 2010, 03:27 PM   #15
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I have 3 TVs and stream HD content to all of them,at the same time, over a wifi N network, with no problem at all.
Yeah. Mine worked pretty good for most stuff (streaming). But every time a time machine backup was in progress or my wife was streaming something over the net, it would hiccup. On vanilla stuff it generally would be no problem, but for action flicks (Star Trek, Avatar, etc) I'd run into issues. I'm pretty picky though...1 stutter is too much. And then, there's the question of the encode quality. "HD content" means different things to different people. To me, it's the max bit rate, 720p BR rip I can get. To others it's the stuff you buy on iTunes, to others still it is the junk on You Tube. At any rate, I'm glad your setup works, but that capability is beyond my experience.
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Old May 22, 2010, 03:32 PM   #16
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5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN
That would be something I don't think I saw a single ATV commercial back in the day. I guess if you're just a hobby you don't any love
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Old May 22, 2010, 05:00 PM   #17
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TV has not changed hardware, since introduction, 3.5 years ago.

I got 40GB back then, last year I purchased a 40GB and a 160GB, and still not much change.

720P was good over the last 3 plus years, but now the support to 1080P has really grown over the past few years, for sure will move to 1080p on any future TV platform.

I would want to see phone OS support on the next TV, so iPad type apps could work.

I am sure that will produce something awesome.
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Old May 22, 2010, 05:03 PM   #18
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That's an interesting theory, but I still don't think we'll see an Apple TV without a HDD for the same reason we're not going to see all the iPods without local storage. The ability to buy content directly from iTunes without having a computer be an intermediary is a big deal for a lot of consumers (right now anyway). Adding the extra step of needing to sync the Apple TV with a computer (which is available right now, but not absolutely necessary) will turn off a large segment of the population that just wants to plug a box into their TV and watch a movie.

In not quite sure you've grasped the cloud concept yet.

When you make a purchase, you're actually making it in the cloud so that it is added to your library online. The cloud becomes the central storage location for all your media. iTunes on your computer can be set up to sync music on to a local drive for faster streaming and for backup. An AppleTV without an HDD could make a purchase without having to download the content to the box. It's streamed and/or downloaded when you're ready to watch or listen to it.

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4 - a better remote - not the greatest remote ever made - just something that doesn't look like a toy and get lost easily.
That "toy remote" has already been discontinued. The new unibody remote is awesome!
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Old May 22, 2010, 08:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by wombat888 View Post
I think the Apple TV just needed marketing a year or two ago. Anyone who has one or visits a friend with one will love it (at least relative to the price). The problem is nobody sees them in action.
Quote:
That said, Apple does now need to make a splash of some sort to avoid being buried by the Google-Sony-Best Buy combo. My recommendation is simpler than the OP's.

2 - at least two pricepoints - one that's cheap with low capacity, oriented toward streaming; another with more capacity for holding digital libraries. The cheap one should be $149 and the more expensive one should be $299.
Agree with you there; but with a major addition on Apple's part - the ability of my iMac network being able to stream DVD's that I own and have ripped to my HDD's - legal under fair use.

I would love to find a Mac solution to stream video_TS files to my TV or my Mac's and dare I say my iPad.

Won't happen I know with a solution from Apple since they want the iTunes dollars - and don't want to upset the studios as well.

Quote:
5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Amen... time to stop being hobby and join the real world.

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720P was good over the last 3 plus years, but now the support to 1080P has really grown over the past few years, for sure will move to 1080p on any future TV platform.
Maybe it is just me and my friends - but the whole 720/1080 issue is lost for some folks. When deciding on a HDTV set three or so years ago the popular opinion was that under 42" screens there was no real gain in going to 1080 over 720. My friends and I fall in to that category of no larger than 42"' screens.

Consumers are driven by numbers not actual end quality it seems at times.
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Old May 22, 2010, 08:40 PM   #20
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I totally agree that google has forced apple to show it's hand here. Hopefully we will see something real soon.
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Old May 22, 2010, 08:57 PM   #21
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I totally agree that google has forced apple to show it's hand here. Hopefully we will see something real soon.
For me the winner of the TV set game will be the one that has the balls to allow streaming of video_ts content without hacks and work arounds. I want the extra content that sometimes seems to be missing from downloads. I also want to be able to bring the content that I bought to a friends house to watch on their DVD player with my "hardcopy" of the movie - read as a DVD or BluRay disk.

I want the connivence at home to have my DVD's ripped to my master HDD's so I can stream them to whatever viewing device I want to use at home. Don't think that is too much to ask in the end.
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Old May 22, 2010, 09:15 PM   #22
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The Apple TV as it already exists is nearly perfect for my needs. I don't rip a lot of movies - ripping has advantages over downloading, but not big enough for me to deal with other than rare exceptions. I also put a lot of value on the Apple TV's great interface for music, which I use as much as I use it for video ... and also, a nice interface for YouTube. And photos, too, for that matter ... my brother's family leaves it on running photo slideshows of their 10,000-photo library when they're not actively watching anything.

In my case, I may stop being an Apple TV owner despite my love of the device, because I also have a PC hooked to my TV and at some point it gets to be overkill. As mentioned in another thread, I loaned my Apple TV t o my dad to see if he likes it and if I can live without it for a few weeks ... if the answer to both is yes, I'll give it to him. It's ironic because I really love the product and think it's a lot better as-is than it gets credit for.

The single biggest need in my mind is marketing. If you take 100 million Americans, give them a 15-minute demo, and let them use an Apple TV for a month, at the end of the month, I bet 10 million of them would gladly hand over the $240 or whatever to buy one.
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Old May 22, 2010, 09:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
In not quite sure you've grasped the cloud concept yet.
I grasp it, but I also understand that no local storage means no offline viewing. I don't think mainstream consumers aren't ready for that, so I'm guessing Apple won't force it on the market. I think it will be one of several options before it's the one and only option.
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Old May 22, 2010, 09:56 PM   #24
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Maybe it is just me and my friends - but the whole 720/1080 issue is lost for some folks. When deciding on a HDTV set three or so years ago the popular opinion was that under 42" screens there was no real gain in going to 1080 over 720. My friends and I fall in to that category of no larger than 42"' screens.

Consumers are driven by numbers not actual end quality it seems at times.
I agree under 42" 1080p is pointless. The only reason why needs to support 1080P, is to cover the large screens, they are more and more common. Also with more and more 1080P content, it has to happen. a few years ago who was doing 1080P content.

Cable/satellite is 720P/1080i, and will be for sometime, the bandwidth to do broadcast 1080P is just too great. but internet and blue ray are now suppling 1080P. VUDU is 1080P.

personally I have no need for 1080P, my largest TV is 37" and there is no room to put anything larger.
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Old May 22, 2010, 09:58 PM   #25
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Bah. GTV isn't going to do anything.

The real problem with ATV is lack of content and the content pricing. GTV addresses neither of these.

Problem with cable/satellite is lack of choice. No ala carte. Little to no competition in some areas.

Does anyone really want to watch grainy internet video on their TV? Nah. Does anyone really want to surf on their TV? Nope.

I'd rather get an iPad than a GTV box.

All we really need is for every set top box, BR player, TV, DVR, etc to have Bluetooth.

With an Ipad I can control my set top box or DVR and I can surf the net, tweet, facebook, email, etc from the couch while watching TV on my big screen.

RAther do that then make my TV part TV and part computer screen. And my guess and experience is most of America would as well.
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