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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why Apple TV is a dud - Fortune

Why Apple TV is a dud - June 11, 2007

He's got some good points:
-while requiring (not quite, but pretty much) an HDTV, you can't get HD content
-the only HD content most of us have is pictures, and those can only come from one machine
-no volume control
-screensaver is "coolest feature"
-can't order movie/TV show/song directly from the device, gotta do that through another computer
-no DVD drive

He wonders if iPhone may similarly be not as cool as we'd hoped - fair point.


UPDATE: very interesting that Steve Jobs recently said that Apple currently has two core businesses (iPods & Macs), is about to add a third (phones), and then they have a hobby (AppleTV) - I read that as a statement that AppleTV isn't working out as well as they'd hoped, and they are distancing themselves a bit from it in case it continues to not work out. Drat.


smokeonit said...

no volume control???

didn't he have an apple remote to control the volume on his appleTV???

and i have to agree on the other points he made... no HD content is a huge bummer and so easy to give to the appleTV crowd... i don't get that apple didn't offer it yet!!!

Matt said...

Schlender is either an alarmist or a rabble-rouser. Apple is interested in shaping an emerging market, not redefining a pre-existing market. Considering he writes for a business publication, I'd expect Schlender would understand this.

If the history of Apple's forays into other new territories are any indication, Apple will improve upon the fairly basic 1.0 release of the Apple TV over time. One difference between Apple and Microsoft is that Microsoft will pack tons of "features" into a product without apparently having any indication of whether or not those features will be beneficial, or used at all. (See Schlender's awkward comparison between the quality of low-res video on the Apple TV and Zune's WiFi sharing capabilities. Apples and oranges, anyone?)

Apple tends to walk before they run, opting for a pragmatic, forward-looking approach with regard to the development of their products. For reference, take a look at the development of the iPod, iTunes, iTMS, and iMac.

Point by point:

- HD content. One can get HD content if one really wants to. It is a pain in the ass now, certainly, but it can be done. That said, HD iTMS purchases are coming.
- Volume control. The living room TV is still very much an all-purpose display connected to a variety of input devices. If the volume control on the Apple TV changed the volume of the Apple TV, then one would risk drastic changes in volume when switching to another video source. Does anyone complain when their new DVD player doesn't control the volume on the TV? Sure, DVD player and cable box remotes can often be programmed to control the volumes of other devices, but take a look at the complexity of those remotes compared to the simplicity of the Apple TV remote. Like many Apple products, the Apple TV has clearly been designed with simplicity for the end-user in mind. This applies not only the GUI, but also to the physical set-up of the device.
- Screensaver is the coolest feature. This is subjective hyperbole. Any number of actual Apple TV features are "cooler".
- No DVD drive. Apple is forward-looking. The original iMac didn't have a floppy drive. Did it matter in the long run? Not one bit. Since Apple's business model is clearly based on downloaded video purchases, this is a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

AppleTV isn't really a dud in my opinion. (Not like the Zune or the Foleo from Palm). But, it would probably be a bit more popular if Apple was able to offer TV show and movie downloads in more countries than they do at the moment... In Australia we can't buy them, so it's a pretty hard sell for most potential customers.

Mike Curtis said...

matt - a well considered response, thanks for taking the time.

I'm a fan of the device, but some devil's advocate positions.

Apple will improve the product - granted and expected. HD downloads, purchaseable content directly from the device, etc. are all accomplishable tasks. However, it is more an MS way to ship a kinda sucky v1.0, and by 3.0 or 4.0 have it be actually good. I wish this device did more out the gate.

As to your point by point:
HD content - yep, coming, but still sucks that it isn't here yet.
Volume control - agreed!
No DVD drive - I pretty much agree, but it does limit the usefulness of the device. It isn't the Apple Way, but if they offered one for an extra $30, don't you think it would sell? Esp. if it did a nice uprez on your DVDs?

Anonymous said...

From a hacking perspective- I was hoping for a somewhat more linux-hacker-friendly device.
The boot executable, boot.efi, on the AppleTV are protected. The AppleTV refuses to boot any free and/or open source EFI Executables, therefore alternative Operating Systems. Apple Didn't develop EFI and its a bit of a cheat to lock it down instead of proper Apple intellectual property. A Big Plus is Draft-N Wireless- gives the usefulness of the ATV a few years extra life as a network extender, if nothing else.

Pip said...

I don't think its a dud. Quite frankly, I think the appleTV is simply going through a beta phase.

-It has limited features
-Apple is witholding financial numbers for two years on the basis that they are considering it a subcription service...

In 2 years time the AppleTV will be a force to be reckoned with.

-It'll have direct access to the iTunes store for purchases
-You'll be able to view images from othere libraries
-There will be HD content
-Countries like Australia will finally have movies and TV shows, and best of all, due to the long wait they'll jump straight into HD content from the get-go
-IPTV (Hopefullly Joost... if not, I'm sure someone will reate a more appletv-friendly plugin for Joost)
-Maybe games

The AppleTV will be a fantastic product, it already is in my opinion, but in 2 years it will be pretty damn amazing.
The AppleTV is not a DVD player. It is not a DVR. Don't ever expect those features to appear because thats simply not what Apple are trying to do. The AppleTV will become your doorway to your media library and the tuner for your tv.

Quit complaining about a lack of HD content, and quit complaining about a product that just isn't the AppleTV. You've signed up for the beta-test. Deal with it. In two years time you might not have a DVD player, and you might not have your digital set-top box anymore. In fact, there's a fair chance you'll no longer be watching network TV either. Everything you want to watch will be online, and you'll be able to get to it through the AppleTV. Enjoy the future folks.

Pip said...

Oh... and I suspect the increase in hdd size is a pretty fair indication of upcoming HD content from iTunes.

Steve Speed said...

As long as the studios get it into their head that consumers are sick to death of overly restrictive DRM then AppleTV has an excellent future.

I hope it and technology like it see the death of HD_DVD/Blu-Ray.

The Youtube tie up is a very good idea where media delivery will be going. We will all get out media from "channels" like Youtube.

Anyone who says AppleTV is a dud cannot see the bigger longer term picture. I believe AppleTV is one of the _most_ important Apple products of all. If they get it right Apple could be the pre-eminent global set top box supplier encompassing on demand Film, TV and music.

I'd be very happy to replace my DVD player, Satellite box and CD player for the elegant little AppleTV. But for now it will do very nicely accompanying the aforementioned.

Does anyone know how I can send Apple and idea? Is there an ideas email address?

patrick said...

It is a dud. I'm sad about it too.

Hopefully Apple can get their Safari Everywhere onto the Apple TV soon, and make it a little less of an issue to hack the thing.

I wanted to set up an HDTV sign for our office with our logo and news feeds, but it is just too much of a pain. You can't even control it over the network... the IR sight must be exposed.

Here's hoping for 2.0!

disposableidentity said...

I love coming back to these old posts a year later. Anyone care to change their opinion now that we've been using it?

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