Why AppleTV is underestimated and will take off

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Diode, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. macrumors 68020

    Diode

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #1
    With still no one being able to properly review the product people's comments are begining to sound a lot like when the ipod came out. I think the initial release of the ipod and the initial release of the AppleTV are one of the same. People just don't know how to react to this device yet.

    For those that don't remember when the ipod came out it was not the fist mp3 player nor was it the first hard drive mp3 player. Roxio had a rather clunky hard drive player that could even play more formats then the ipod. People cried out that it was over priced ($399 at the time) claiming they could buy a imac for only $500 or so more. People also pointed to the already existing mp3 players claiming Apple had no right to compete in the already saturated market.

    What these people failed to realize at the time was while these things already existed on the market the Apple was the first product to implement the KISS method. All you needed to do was hook it up to iTunes, click sync, and walk away knowing all your music was safely downloaded. When they released the music store in iTunes Apple proved that there was a market for online content and people were willing to buy it. The video ipod then proved to apple that people were willing and able to watch video on a small, crappy screen.

    Now this brings us to the present: the AppleTV. The AppleTV is not the most first media extending device nor is it the most fully featured. There are better solutions out there that will play more video codec's, but what these devices have failed is wide stream appeal - much like mp3 players did before Apple. The mass market expects to plug things in and have them work - they don't want to be hassled with the behind the scene stuff that goes on with the current devices (network settings, running additional software to communicate with the device, or even hacking it to get it working properly ala XBMC). The mass market is were the Apple product fits in just nicely. The user interface couldn't be simpler as Apple has already proven with the ipod interface. Your AppleTV just appears in your itunes ready to have content copied to it. The only people that will be turned off initially from the device are the people with hordes of media in other formats not already supported by the device such as people with DIVX/AVI files. However you got to remember that is a small proportion to the overall market. Apple is just looking for a simple way to push content from itunes to the TV much like itunes currently pushes to your ipod.

    Now this leaves us with the speculation part of things. Not all is known about the AppleTV nor is it guaranteed that the formats Apple has released will be “final”. What I can assure though is this appears to me a excellent device to be hacked by the more “knowledgeable” user group to satisfy the people that are running XBMC etc. The people that care enough to only want a device that plays certain formats not supported out of the box by the AppleTV will find other ways to make it play those files. 3rd party firmware exists today that allows the ipod to play a multitude of formats as proof of this concept (as too is the large following of XBMC).

    In conclusion I can see this device as having a slow start as people use the “wait and see” methodology. The ipod wasn’t a success overnight but it’s sales soon outpaced all other mp3 players. I can see the AppleTV doing the same thing.
     
  2. macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #2
    I can't. I don't recall the iPod having a slow start (but I must admit I didn't follow Apple too closely in 2001). I can see the need for a way to stream all my music from my PC to a TV, I wish my Wii could do it like the xbox 360 can. But I'm sure after a while someone'll be able to figure out how to get the Wii to do that... and then i won't have a use for the :apple:TV. This device will (IMHO) only apply to people who have an extra $300 to spend.

    People already took music with them in the form of a walkman/discman/mp3 CD player. People don't really listen to music at their TV, so I can only see this as a product for those with too much money OR a product that revolutionizes (not evolutionizes as the iPod did) the way we listen to music.
     
  3. j26
    macrumors 65816

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #3
    Put in DVR and the ability to push the content TO my computer for syncing with my iPod, together with a good hd or at least the option to add an extra hd to it and I'd buy. Otherwise there is no real reason for me to buy it.

    In the era where conservation of energy is going to be important (however much the deniers bleat), to me the whole model of having to have your computer running to use it seems very silly.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 68020

    Diode

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #4
    I, like most people with a home theatre, have our main stereo where our tv's are. You would just need to plug the audio cable into your stereo to get music from it with the only caviet of having to have your TV on to browse your music.

    When I mentioned the ipod had a slow start, I was more refering to the reaction by the mass public. It was a hit with the more know-how people before everyone and their grandma wanted one. I can remember my sister making fun of mine and then "having to have" a ipod mini in pink a year later when they were released.

    While it might not be this specific revision of AppleTV that becomes the huge hit I think apple is on the right path to do something big. As I stated above people didn't think the ipod was that big when it was announced (even apple fanboys on this site). If you don't believe check out the ipod announcment thread and see how close it compares to the discussions on the AppleTV.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68020

    Diode

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #5

    Personally the DVR market is a little tough to crack as there is no great way to hook one to your TV. I've tried the Tivo method but hated the lag in changing channels. I currently use one my cable provider has provided me since it integrates so nicely with their system.

    I could see apple having seperate levels of AppleTV's much like they have different ipod's:

    Driveless (or small hard drive)
    Larger hard drive no DVR
    DVR with large hard drive.

    Only time will tell but I am excited as I think DVD's are going the way of CD's.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2003
    Location:
    NJ USA
    #6
    Nice post. I agree that this is a 1.0 release of :apple: TV and we need to be patient. I would love to get one to replace my media center G4 Cube, but I don't yet have an HDTV and my DVD player is using my only component connection. The Cube works fine when I am operating it but it is still too confusing for the wife and kids to operate.

    If Apple would have included an optical drive this would have been an awesome device and would have allowed many people to eliminate their standard DVD player.

    As it is now, it is a great device for connected homes, people with teens downloading TV shows and movies, watching video podcasts, etc.

    So, how far are we from the time when mass amounts of people just drop their cable company and get all their content from online sources?
     
  7. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #7
    For listening to music and viewing photos, Apple TV seems to be a promising device. And for these capability alone, many people may be able to justify spending $299.

    Video is its weakness. HandBrake and iSquint users notwithstanding, whom you would probably define as "a small proportion to the overall market", Apple TV is limited to viewing movie trailers hosted at Apple.com and for watching videos purchased from iTunes Store.

    I am not giving Apple TV's video capability a failing grade for the exclusion of DVR. Many people would love DVR on Apple TV, of course, but at $299, it would be difficult for Apple to include HDTV tuner with CableCARD support and DVR functionality.

    My critism is aimed at very limited video and audio codecs. You say video codecs (other than MPEG-4/H.264) will appeal to a small proportion of the overall market? You are obviously not familiar with just how popular DiVX format has become. Even older folks watch downloaded contents these days, especially outside US. It would be trivial for Apple to include DiVX/XViD codecs -- it just chose not to in order to promote MPEG-4/H.264.

    Missing support for multi-channel audio formats (e.g., Dolby Digital and DTS) is even more puzzling, since just about every single recent DVD titles have 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack. Perhaps you and some folks find stereo and Dolby Pro-Logic to be state-of-the-art, but home theater community has migrated to multi-channel Dolby Digital more than 5 years ago.

    I really want to buy Apple TV. For music and photos alone, I am very tempted. But lack of multi-channel audio makes it totally unacceptable for home theater device.
     
  8. macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #8
    I think it's a neat, and fairly-priced, product, but I also think it's only desired by a small niche of people. Now, it may have longer-term strategic importance and may grow to do more (games are one hint--why NOT have a "casual console"?) but right now, it doesn't meet a need many people have.

    You can't compare it to the intro of the iPod directly. The iPod could and does play music the way most people get it: on CDs. It also plays music from iTMS, but even before iTMS the iPod was a hit.

    AppleTV does NOT play video the way most people get it: on DVD or recorded from antenna/cable. It ONLY plays video from iTMS--or conversions that most people don't have the time or know-how to bother with. And iTMS video/TV/movies are much less widely-used (and have FAR less selection) than iTMS music.

    Take away iTMS and the iPod is still a great device. Take away iTMS--and therefore most video--and AppleTV is nice for showing photos and playing music--which are nice, but people do both by many other means already. (In fact, an iPod can already do both AND show movies on TV. It lacks an on-screen menu, but it has an "on-controller" menu.)

    So the value of AppleTV is much more tied to iTMS than the iPod is. A GREAT device if you're a heavy user of iTMS movies or TV shows, and don't have your computer in your living room like I do (thus giving me the same remote as AppleTV). Also great for SOME niche of other people, just for photo slideshows and the sheer "cool factor" of having your music controlled from your TV. (With the significant downside of having to have your TV on!) For most other people (not MacRumors posters but consumers as a whole), an iPod, Mac Mini, large computer screen, DVR, DVD player, and/or various other solutions meet their needs better. (AppleTV is simple, but simplicity that doesn't DO all you need leaves you still using other devices a lot--and there goes the simplicity.)

    My solution is a 24" iMac with EyeTV. For most people, the current ideal is probably a DVD player (and maybe DVR) plus an iPod--and the more advanced ones will sometimes use that iPod to show photos or TV eps on a TV. (Note that iTunes videos aren't high-def anyway, so the digital connection from AppleTV isn't that useful--yet--except for the menus. An iPod's analog video-out is fine for iTunes videos on a TV.)

    I see AppleTV as a specialized iPod--not portable, but on the other hand it synchs wirelessly and outputs a digital picture. An iPod dedicated to TV use. That's a great addition to the lineup, but it's not something many people will care that much about. Not compared to the mainstream appeal of the iPod, and not revolutionary in usability the way the iPhone is. (Remember, we already have Front Row Macs and iPods that connect to TV, and those already overlap the AppleTV's function. Both of those use a very similar menu structure and even use the same Apple remote--so they share the AppleTV's excellent usability. And Macs and iPods can be had with bigger storage too, and no need to connect multiple devices to achieve a bigger library. iPods can't access shared media like AppleTV can--but Front Row and iTunes can. Front Row is Mac-only, I know, but iTunes isn't.)

    To be clear, I DO buy video from iTMS, and I WOULD want to watch it on my TV (I'd just use my iPod for this except my iMac IS my TV). I, and some people I know, would get some value from it. But I think most people won't.

    That's OK--there's absolutely nothing wrong with a product that only appeals to a small niche. I would NEVER suggest that Apple cater only to the majority and neglect anything more specific. We'd have no 30" displays, 60 GB iPods, 17" MacBooks, Motion, or lots of other cool stuff if Apple took that attitude!

    So I'm sure AppleTV will pay for its R&D and have a long life, but I don't see the huge demand some expect unless its functionality (and/or that of iTMS) changes. Which could happen.

    And I do think it would be a MUCH more widely-appealing device if it could record TV (I love my EyeTV), and/or play movie discs. If, in other words, it embraced how people already use video, just like the iPod embraces music on CDs.

    My guess: AppleTV's importance to Apple isn't mainly about cash sales--not even a gardual snowball of sales. It's about a gesture that must be made to content providers as part of a long-term strategy. A gesture that must DE-value traditional ways of getting video, even if that's against what most consumers want today. AppleTV is a kind of cart without a horse for most consumers--but Apple's looking ahead to when the horse (a LOT more content, at quality that's better than just "good") can be persuaded to show up.

    THEN AppleTV (or AppleTV 2) could find a really broad audience at last. Imagine iTMS having the selection of NetFlix PLUS most current TV/cable programming PLUS high-def quality PLUS a choice to rent instead of buy (bad for music, great for video) PLUS casual games (which appeal to more people than hard-core console stuff--but seldom in the living room to date). NOW you have a product that can truly replace--and not have to embrace--the old ways of watching TV and movies.

    AppleTV is not a mistake, just a first step. I truly think it will prove to be only a small step--but there will be others.
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
  10. thread starter macrumors 68020

    Diode

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #10
    I do agree; a one touch DVD rip would be a killer feature in iTunes but I don't think the industry will allow it.

    Walk down any street and quiz people about DIVX and record how many people know what it is. Then ask those same people if they have heard of a mp3. I bet you will be surprised; I am talking in terms of the mass population. MP3's existed long before the ipod came out, but it wasn't until the ipod that my dad knew what one was. I use him as a refrence point since he is techniclly inclined but is not a computer expert. Most people browsing this site are so you have to "dumb" your self down a bit in order to grasp what I am trying to get at.



    I agree completly which is why I am holding my breath. I feel apple is still holding a lot of cards close to them with the AppleTV. How can you claim to have a hd box and not support 5.1 - its got optical so the only thing I can come up with is maybe they will release a new version of mpeg that has 5.1 bundeled in (Or can decode 5.1 AAC into raw PCM).
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    #11
    The Wii can transfer media, check out........
    http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/

    Currently only streams Music and Photos but the developer hope to have Video streaming in the next month or so.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Alabama
    #12
    I completely agree with the original post. Apple TV will do well over time; it will do very well. The technical ability of the people who frequent these forums is high - so high that a large population of the macrumors-type crowd won't need Apple TV, as they have already dug in deep with other video formats or have created alternative systems of getting content where they need it to be. As for the rest of the population - the people who show off at work because they learned you can download Lost on your computer - will embrace this device. Then there are people like me, who value their iTunes music libraries far more than their iPod, and look forward to streaming it to the stereo (with something much better than the often-dismal Airport Express).

    The video quality will be amped up over time; that is a certainty. Just as Apple Lossless wasn't available with the first iPod release, so will the video quality increase with time. As for multi-channel sound, a poster named chicagdan has set out instruction on how you can currently do multi-channel in iTunes, although it appears to take a small amount of effort to get it there. Regardless, it is inevitable effortless multi-channel sound will get there, that HD will get there and perhaps even Apple/industry sanctioned DVD ripping-to-iTunes will get there.

    I am not making the point that Apple TV is for everyone. Again, many - if not most - of the tech savvy people who visit these forums have created alternatives to Apple TV that work well, or even better, for them. It's the rest of the population who want the ease-of-transfer created by this device.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #13
    *Wonders if you'll be able to stream 1080i/720p recordings from eyeTV to :apple:tv*
     
  14. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #14
    -nateDEEZY

    According to ElGato, you can 'push a button' to put recordings to iTunes for service.

    Linkypoo
     
  15. macrumors 68030

    redAPPLE

    Joined:
    May 7, 2002
    Location:
    2 Much Infinite Loops
    #15
    i was told that the :apple: tv can do AirTunes. so you don't have to have your tv on to listen to music.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Location:
    sydney
    #16
    I agree a lot of people were sceptical about the ipod-I admit I was and thought it was another apple folly (in fact I didn't really notice apple that much, they made the first computer I used at Uni but I thought they had gone to the wall-The ZX81 was the first computer I ever used though-Sinclair and the UK computer Industry, ahhh what a wasted opportunity, ARM remains though, PSION were always far far better than Palm but you knew it was doomed by the sheer numbers of the inferior Palm machines in use)

    Anyway I was wrong about the ipod but you could listen to the songs you already owned by burning your existing CD's into itunes. I don't think the itunes store had anything to do with its uptake, am probaly wrong but thats my feeling

    The apple TV doesn't offer a way of adding your existing DVD colection into itunes. OK there are all those ilegal ripping applications but it seems to much hassle for me (KISS- I agree is apples forte, once you have to start messing about I'm not intereted as I'm stupid)

    ilounge say that apple are now the new sony, obsessed with selling content to the detriment of the products they sell.

    http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/will-apple-tv-succeed-our-views-your-views/

    I love the iphone (well it LOOKS good from down here) but the apple TV smacks of being forced by apple to buy their content and it 'smells wrong' . Add a DVD player so I can play and record to itunes and my order is in but otherwise no way.
     
  17. macrumors 601

    HiRez

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Western US
    #17
    There are three basic problems that I have with it right now:

    1. Not enough studios and content providers signed up. Getting someone other than Disney was a good thing (and long overdue), but it's not enough. They're going to need everyone to make this device truly take off. Imaging iTMS with offerings from only one or two music labels.

    2. No way to rent movies, you have to buy them. They need to figure out a way to make movies rentable for say $4-$6, with reasonable access provisions (length of time you have to watch it, number of viewings, etc.). Buying movies is fine, it needs to be there, but rentals are the killer app. And they need to do it before other companies get a foothold on this market, because that's coming very soon.

    3. No multichannel audio capabilities.

    I'd love to buy one of these things, but right now those things are dealbreakers for me. And yeah, they should have a DVR in them with Applerific DVR software (there's another subscription revenue stream for them), even if that model costs more, sheesh. I keep wanting to give Apple my money, but they thwart me at the finish line.
     
  18. Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #18
    At release, I wouldn't be surprised if they announce a big deal, maybe more than one, with some of the studios. Maybe there will be more content on iTMS, maybe even for non-US audiences. Maybe also a new version of iTunes...

    From a marketing point of view, they desperately need something more than just the product release, something to help hit the general headlines over and above the tech press, because there's very little we don't know about it at this stage...

    Perhaps tying up negotiations with some studios delayed the shipping? ;)
     
  19. macrumors 603

    MacBoobsPro

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #19
    I agree. This is backed up by the fact they did a pre-release sneak peek to show the studios what they were up to and to build anticipation to tempt the studios even further.
     
  20. macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Location:
    Yahooville S.C.
    #20
    I disagree, one the MP3 market was just starting when Apple got into it and there was nothing to compete with mp3's in portability.

    The Tv media business is way different, 1st we are in a home setting and portability doesnt reallyfactor in.

    2nd People have had DVDs for years along with Cable,Satellites & etc.

    3rd PCs have had something thats very scarce in Apples world and thats PVRs. I have been using a PVR for years in my Dell and though buying a movie over the net is nice its just not needed because with a PVR you can record any movie now and year ago with cable. Plus I still like the idea of a hard copy, a booklet and trinkets with the movie. I dont see Apple TV as all that and you still cant even hook it up to your cable. It wont being doing all that for Apple because Apple has for years DISSED 2 Huge segments in Media. One the TV watcher and the other the Gamer. Apple TV isnt going to be Pods in any fashion in my view. Way to late to this party.
     
  21. macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #21
    I have only one reason I'm not buying an Apple TV.

    It won't hook up to my TV.

    Our house has a huge TV and sound setup, but surprise...it has no component hookups. People on this forum call it outdated, but it's a very nice high quality SDTV and everyone likes using it and there is no reason to buy a new one.

    Not one TV in my house has component.

    The AppleTV has no composite, which is the stupidest thing I've ever seen; no iTunes content is in HD, so why does it only have HD outputs?
     
  22. macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #22
    This is a very good question--and there may be some future answer we have not yet seen. Right now, the only answers are "photo slideshows" and "sharper menu text."

    As for the "only" part, that does seem odd since cost for S-video would have been small. Maybe Apple doesn't care AS much about the people without component, but you think they'd still care some. It would be nice if the final product has some adapter in the box, but I doubt it.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Brighton, East Sussex, UK
    #23
    the best thing about :apple: tv for me is that my tv downstairs is linked up tp my bose system, whereas my mac upstairs is linked to crappy creative speakers. this will be what i will use it for mainly i think, as well as playing across all my family guy and peepshow episodes. SEEING AS THE UK HAS NO TV SHOWS OR MOVIES ON ITUNES YET!!!!! :mad::mad::mad:
     
  24. Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #24


    And you know what? I'm pessimistic about this.

    One look at what is going on between Sky and Virgin Media at the moment gives you an idea of the stakes involved.

    Murdoch (Fox et al) isn't going to hand over rights to Apple just like that, nor are other producers... not only have these players seen the speed at which the iPod has become a dominant platform, they're wary of the eventual power of Apple, locked in as many of them are to Microsoft video delivery solutions.

    And you can bet that Microsoft are whispering into everyone's ears about this... video is also the long-term direction of the Zune IMO, unless it crashes and burns.

    I think Apple has bitten off more than they chew on this one. Their failure to license FairPlay, in the long-term, may be seen as history repeating itself twice... which is possibly why the iPhone and its descendants is the long-term bet on wireless and the phone networks rather than traditional copper wire and broadcasting, and the organisations that control them.
     
  25. Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    #25

    BBC & Channel 4 have also signed up for Windows Media distribution so I can't see there being any UK TV content available through iTunes.
     

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