Opinion: Why Apple Can't Dominate TV Market Anytime Soon

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jacobdrj

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Let me explain where the TV market is right now:
Its complicated. Much much more so than it was back in the 80's and 90's.

Where in the 90s, watching TV consisted of 1) Turning on the TV and 2) changing the channel, now you need to turn on all of your various devices, get them all on the right input/output, and then 'attempt' to flip through channels via either a slow manual flipping or with a menu screen, that is generally pretty slow too.

Watching a movie was all about hooking up the VCR, turning to channel 3, and pressing play. The tapes produced lower than SDTV quality, the tapes degraded and failed occasionally, but it was easy, and never failed to the point beyond use, like DVDs with a scratch, so long as the tape hadn't been recorded over or physically broken. Sound systems were stereo at best, but were still mature, and had sufficient power due to the allotment of size permitted by already bulky tube-based TVs.

There are oodles and oodles of new features with TVs these days. Great features. DVR features. Connectivity features. The ability to stream your DVR content over the internet to almost any device. Sound systems that simply blow your mind... The clarity of full 1080p HDTV is unrivaled and unquestioned compared to the 90's. However, the shear complexity and the lag involved with modern TV is a huge downer.

I can't just channel surf anymore. It is too aggravating with digital cable/IPTV. The DVRs I have used from 2 satilite providers, AT&T Uverse and Comcrap have all failed expectations wildly... The only thing close is using a cablecard with my own computer, but that is very expensive, as far as initial investment goes.

DVDs are so volatile. Bluray is gorgeous but so expensive.

Watching TV over the internet, via Netflix, or even via commercial ridden Hulu is a far superior experience in most cases of general use, even with inferior sound and visual quality.

If someone can make some kind of unified, easy RESPONSIVE TV system, they will get my business.




 

ap3x

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[citation][nom]jacobdrj[/nom]Let me explain where the TV market is right now:Its complicated. Much much more so than it was back in the 80's and 90's.Where in the 90s, watching TV consisted of 1) Turning on the TV and 2) changing the channel, now you need to turn on all of your various devices, get them all on the right input/output, and then 'attempt' to flip through channels via either a slow manual flipping or with a menu screen, that is generally pretty slow too. Watching a movie was all about hooking up the VCR, turning to channel 3, and pressing play. The tapes produced lower than SDTV quality, the tapes degraded and failed occasionally, but it was easy, and never failed to the point beyond use, like DVDs with a scratch, so long as the tape hadn't been recorded over or physically broken. Sound systems were stereo at best, but were still mature, and had sufficient power due to the allotment of size permitted by already bulky tube-based TVs.There are oodles and oodles of new features with TVs these days. Great features. DVR features. Connectivity features. The ability to stream your DVR content over the internet to almost any device. Sound systems that simply blow your mind... The clarity of full 1080p HDTV is unrivaled and unquestioned compared to the 90's. However, the shear complexity and the lag involved with modern TV is a huge downer. I can't just channel surf anymore. It is too aggravating with digital cable/IPTV. The DVRs I have used from 2 satilite providers, AT&T Uverse and Comcrap have all failed expectations wildly... The only thing close is using a cablecard with my own computer, but that is very expensive, as far as initial investment goes.DVDs are so volatile. Bluray is gorgeous but so expensive. Watching TV over the internet, via Netflix, or even via commercial ridden Hulu is a far superior experience in most cases of general use, even with inferior sound and visual quality.If someone can make some kind of unified, easy RESPONSIVE TV system, they will get my business.[/citation]

I have to agree with you. I have UVerse and the Whole Home DVR solution they use is not very responsive although I do like the HD channel line up. They use Microsoft MediaRoom for that solution. I used a Tivo with a Cable Card before that and liked that solution but was missing the extended cable options. DirectTV there was a sluggishness issue but that was a long time ago. Don't know about now.

I have to agree with you. If a company can come up with a solution that does all that and have great picture quality with deep blacks I am all in.
 

sinfulpotato

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At my parents house in my bedroom is an old tube tv. I use the term old loosely, as it was manufactured in 2003. I prefer it over the awful overly complicated set up in the family room.

Annoying menu after menu, I can't just channel surf. The whole experience is just clunky as hell. I miss the days when a display was simply just a display.
 

hoof_hearted

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@jacobdrj agreed - what we have right now is hundreds of channels and nothing to watch, complete with commercials and a $60-100 / month cable bill. I actually don't have cable and just interenet and Netflix. No commercials and being able to search, browse by genre (scfi for me) and pick from a menu is the best. I would rather pay $30 for the whole season of Santuary DVDs, rip it to my XBMC and watch reruns than pay a $70/month cable bill.


When they let me pick and pay for my content, then they will have my business.
 

supall

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I just hook up the tv to my PC and be done with it. One connection is all it takes and finding shows online is much easier than looking at a tv guide.
 

tsnorquist

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What cable companies need to do is provide a la carte service. Charge $1 to $5 per channel a month and be done with it. I don't watch 1000 channels, I watch about 15. If someone offered this sort of setup, they would would acquire every subscriber in the area.
 

headscratcher

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I don't think that Apple stands to compete well with MS for the TV screen. MS realized, I think, years ago where all this was heading and went all-in on a gaming console that they were then able to evolve in to much, much more. Apple can't offer this and would have a lot to catch up on.

All the hot "innovative" stuff I hear said about what Apple can bring to the TV, my XBOX360 has been doing for quite a while now.
 

headscratcher

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[citation][nom]headscratcher[/nom]I don't think that Apple stands to compete well with MS for the TV screen. MS realized, I think, years ago where all this was heading and went all-in on a gaming console that they were then able to evolve in to much, much more. Apple can't offer this and would have a lot to catch up on.All the hot "innovative" stuff I hear said about what Apple can bring to the TV, my XBOX360 has been doing for quite a while now.[/citation]
Networks like ESPN will never let that happen. You are going to pay ESPN whether you watch them or not if you have any cable package or satellite.
 

gm0n3y

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[citation][nom]memadmax[/nom]People still watch TV?[/citation]
I watch tons of TV shows... downloaded from torrent sites and watched using my computer.

Don't get me wrong, I have an ~$80/month cable package that only gets used to watch the news and hockey games. But I'm not going to sit down at a specific time to watch a show with commercials. PVRs are decent, but then I might as well just download the shows, its even easier. Plus, being on the west coast, I can often watch them a couple of hours before they're out here.
 

ap3x

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[citation][nom]tsnorquist[/nom]What cable companies need to do is provide a la carte service. Charge $1 to $5 per channel a month and be done with it. I don't watch 1000 channels, I watch about 15. If someone offered this sort of setup, they would would acquire every subscriber in the area.[/citation]

That would be cool however sometimes shows come up on other channels so it would be difficult to find new shows to watch if you don't have access to the channels that are showing them. There is no way for anyone to memorize all the guides so that you know in advance to go ahead and order that channel. Also, the shows get paid off of the advertising contracts that show during their time slot. That model would make it difficult.
 

ronindaosohei

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Interesting conversation. My general assessment follows the main article, that an iTV as some might envision it (an extension of iOS) is flawed from the start. iOS makes no sense on a TV. Let's start with the fact that you aren't going to be using a touch screen, the remote is still generally a better way of going (using your iPhone as a remote is doable and could push iPhone market share) and Siri is definitely an option (again, Microsoft is moving that way with Kinect). The value of apps on your TV is questionable, replacement cycles are definitely much slower and for all the talk of how it could be a content play for Apple like how Kindle is a content play for Amazon the reality is Apple makes way more money off hardware than they do off of content. From those perspectives iTV just isn't a slam dunk for Apple.

This being said there are lots of good comments about how complicated TVs have become and that's a fair assessment, bringing simplicity is something Apple does well and could continue to do on the TV, they also have a strong media eco-system, which could help. A few things that might make sense:

1. Video conferencing - definitely something that hasn't broken into the system yet but is getting due

2. Simple device integration - I think this is where Siri powered has some serious potential

3. Content discovery - one of the main reasons moving to something like iTV and other competitors makes sense is because so much of the content is moving away from the major providers and onto the internet and the way we consume it is getting increasingly on-demand instead of on schedule, this is a powerful motivator. The key here I think is the ability to have a new content discovery engine, the 21st Century equivalent to channel surfing...I'm not sure Apple is ideally positioned to bring this to us though when compared with other competitors

4. Device integration - the seamless connection of devices in a way that enhances the experience, for example, an app running on your iPhone (and on each iPhone in the room) providing active links and information related to the content you're watching, this sort of thing hasn't been done yet


All of this aside I think the boat is missed with iTV, the much bigger opportunity for Apple is video games. They've already got a huge user base on the iPhone. Imagine people using iPhones as their controller, pushing multi-player, which is an area that's under exploited for Apple. The key is to drive a better experience for users, which I think is very possible and presents whole other revenue streams for Apple.
 
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please dont call it itv as that is an already established trademark in the UK and i highly doubt that they would sell it or allow apple to use it
 

eddieroolz

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I think Apple won't be so interested in moving to the "third screen" considering that TV is a waning format. Not dying just yet, but its brightest era has passed.
 

marose

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IMO they are getting in the game too late. LG and Samsung made too much of an impact at CES 2012. Now whether those TVs shown then are actually be available in 2012 is a mystery however my sources tell me LG's LM series and LG OLED TV will be available in 2012. Apple buy smost of its display panels from LG so quality wise, i dont think how it will top them.
 

alxianthelast

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[citation][nom]g-unit1111[/nom]To me the mere idea of an Apple TV is ridiculous. At least judging from the concept I've seen - it's a 42" iPad. Why?[/citation]

To change the way broadcast television works. And redefine the services behind it.

To bring more relevance to the iMac/Mac (PC) brands to non-PC users.. or people just looking for a big iPad, aka a network connected wall mounted screen with at least as much processing power as an iPad/Macbook. Why ignore that market?

One question you can ask is.. what are you getting for 2 grand when you buy a big screen from the other guys? a screen that does some nifty tricks. Can those screens from the other guys, even Sony affect the content you consume on them?

Driving higher quality content. If Apple gets into the TV game, step one is entering at 1080p and making that the benchmark for all content offered through an online services you can connect to. Or they enter the market with a higher native resolution in anticipation or to encourage studios to make even higher quality content? It won't be a retina display but is 1080p24-60 really adequate?

Arguably iPod 'ruined music forever' by not supporting high bitrates, lossless codec etc once they started into the tens of gigabytes. It should have emphasized to the public what you could do with gigs of digital music in your pocket. In a way they stuck a wedge in the music distribution business and never properly broke it open for more or the majority of artists to benefit from digital distribution.

But is iPhone something Tesla, Edison or Marconi would recognize? You still makes calls with it, just the same as you will just watch TV on an Apple big screen.. but you could do much more, without anything else connected to it but the internet. Consider bedrooms with x number of digital devices that could be simplified to one screen and an internet connection (FiOS/FTTN). Living rooms?

Add a controller/remote. Parity with years of familiarity, the most ubiquitous device in the home.. besides the radio and land line telephone. Can't even call them non-essential. What kind of apps could you have, would you want? games?

Then through that keyhole.. more products, hardware and software, from Apple that's more TVs and accessories.. the sky would be the limit if iDevices are anything to judge by for 3rd party accessories.

Advertising might also not be as scatter shot and pointless (ignoring demographics we've been assigned to for decades, that have mutated in the last decade in large part because of the massive rise and popularity of chic geekdom in owning smart devices.) And as well because cord cutters etc don't do broadcast TV but do want on demand TV services (not just shows). Cloud versus PVR might be a big issue for some people.

If Apple pulls in licensing for those programs and broadcasters, and regulatory commissions of the world relent, Apple could offer a content distribution channel that rivals downloading shows from bittorrent. It couldn't get easier than an RSS feed and VLC could it?

But further than that could it be easier for lower budget studios to make and distribute quality TV? Self Funded projects like Pioneer One. How do they get funding? Or for companies licensing content to current on demand service Netflix, with a cheap flat rate, and have decided to back out.. Is Apple able to entice those big boys given their reach given mobile, PC and projected to the living room space as well?

I've argued for a while now that it could and would be worth paying for.. even to pay Apple.. if they could make it easier to watch TV, but the magic is 'on demand' and that no matter what you'd get Netflix and Hulu Plus on it anyway regardless of what specific licensing deals they are after. Apple just has to offer something better than the other guys, especially Google. Youtube is already available to many connected TV sets.. but isn't always practical or easy.
 

alxianthelast

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also apple and AAA/premium/overbudget gamed is a side topic.

They have the money to just through at AAA gaming, even if an Apple big screen launches and floats for a couple of years offering an extra 10-50 million big screens.. Microsoft and Sony have both done gaming.. or over done AAA gaming and have failed to profit as much as they could have from building their brands up from the bottom. Leaving the AAA stuff for people who want it.

iOS games being ultra cheap, beating XBlA and PSN titles.. 3DS and Vita titles etc.. Apple doesn't need to compete in gaming. They already dominate.

An Apple big screen.. lets assume it can run Unreal Engine 4.. Devs could make premium-ish games for it once it is well established (not for several years). Epic is already invested in iOS so it is a foregone conclusion that they would support an Apple big screen iOS platform with games of their own making if it was possible (and profitable) to do so..

Something else to consider. Will Activision cock block Bungie from making iOS or Mac OS games the same way Microsoft did, just to have a big budget exclusive to make a name for Xbox?

But an internal AAA game studio at Apple? Is it necessary if they an adequate number of partners?
 

blackened144

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[citation][nom]ap3x[/nom]I have to agree with you. I have UVerse and the Whole Home DVR solution they use is not very responsive although I do like the HD channel line up. They use Microsoft MediaRoom for that solution. I used a Tivo with a Cable Card before that and liked that solution but was missing the extended cable options. DirectTV there was a sluggishness issue but that was a long time ago. Don't know about now. I have to agree with you. If a company can come up with a solution that does all that and have great picture quality with deep blacks I am all in.[/citation]
Is your DVR the old silver one of the newer black one? My old one silver one started messing up on my and they replaced it with the new Cisco ISB7500 that is black and its MUCH faster.. Deleting 5 things off the DVR in a row before would take like 20s because of the lag between being able to hit one button and the next, but the new one is only limited by how fast you can push the buttons..
 
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