I wrote this article over a year ago. How close was I in projecting what the new Apple TV would need to do? I think Apple read this article and implemented everything I wrote about in it! From subscription TV to Siri Voice remote control and a better remote in AppleTV4.
Recently this discussion popped up on the GCMAC listserv. On May 21, 2014, at 8:01 PM, Bob Lasky wrote:
“I keep seeing commercials for the Amazon Fire TV. The talking instead of typing feature looks cool. Anyone know anything about it?”
On Wednesday, May 21, 2014 9:13 PM, John Stephen wrote:
“The decision point here is where you desire to obtain/purchase your video content. If you dig Amazon and maybe are a Prime user than its likely the product for you. If you are in the Apple ecosystem, aka iTunes then Apple TV is the platform for you. Of course, the additional benefit of streaming/AirPlay from your other Apple devices.
Time to choose sides for the coming battle…. :)”
I wouldn’t bet against AppleTV on this one. Although coming late to the party this time could be disastrous for them. Building a killer set top box, better than Smart TV manufacturers can include, should be the key. But it’s Apple TV all that with minimalist remote and clunky interface? (still there still is no Apple television set on the horizon, even if Gene Munster of Piper Jaffrey has said we will see one for last four years)
Samsung is already entrenched with great SMART television products. They have just released a huge ULTRA HD (4K) curved TV. Their handheld devices integrate relatively well with their big screen TV’s.
So what could Steve Jobs have meant by
“I finally cracked the code to TV”?
I think I can imagine a better TV/Internet experience without Comcast controlling it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if my following ideas align with what Jobs was thinking.
Comcast has a stranglehold on high speed internet and their new Xfinity product also let’s you use your iPhone to talk to the system, perform searches, etc.
So here are a few things Apple must do. The biggest problem today is getting the content that people want. I hate paying exhorbidant prices for Comcast bundles. I watch at best 10-15 channels. I don’t need or want to pay for 1000.
So that would be the #1 & #2 issues facing an AppleTV product. I don’t envision Apple producing an actual TV at this point. They don’t have the manufacturing capability and would have to rely on another company to build them. Although, all of their manufacturing is done by Foxconn in China, the manufacturers manufacturer.
On the other hand Apple does have a cash horde they could buy a Sharp maybe even Sony to do it. Minimally Apple TV needs a brisk update adding voice integration and a full remote control software for iPhone and Siri to control it all. And it would definitely be cool if they could get Siri to control existing ATV boxes. And it also could use a new box altogether, that is more efficient.
The final piece of the puzzle is content delivery. Comcast does have a stranglehold on their internet service. I read yesterday Apple is buying/building new infrastructure to deliver content more efficiently mirroring content on multiple servers all over the world.
This in order to deliver its software in a more efficient seamless manner. Combining Apple’s storage and delivery systems with AT&T’s fat pipes will enable delivering selective on demand content. I believe that is what I want, and I bet millions of the rest of you do , too. I only want to pay for the content I want instead of thousands of programs in a bundle I don’t. And also to control when I want to watch it, instead of relying on network programming schedules.
So Apple does have a plan working in that direction. But the big issue is the PIPE that final 1000 feet of cable or phone lines bringing your internet connection into your home. Fibre optics is the key here enabling delivery of the GIGABIT bandwidth the consumer wants and needs for the quality of service required. Comcast has not built out a fibre optic network to the home.
AT&T on the other hand has been deploying fibre optics to their switches for years now. Although they have not been able to get it that last 1000 feet to consumer homes in a ubiquitous manner. They have been building it out in new housing developments being built within the last five years or so putting it all underground. If/when that happens, AT&T could leapfrog Comcast by a mile in the bandwidth battle.
Comcast currently has the infrastructure to deliver 300mbits per sec. But they are being stingy with it. And it still only comes in over 1 wire per household. Then they still have the same latency issues (cable delivery has always had) when many users in a given area demand content at the same time. The bandwidth speeds become erratic and slow down.
I think the answer lies within FIBRE OPTICS deployment. There are a thousand or more strands of high speed fibers of the cable pipe in a half inch cable, each strand capable of delivering 10,000 independent pipes for content over a gigabit of data. AT&T is negotiating to buy DirecTV NOT as much for the user base I think, but for the broad content contracts they hold with providers, LIKE THE NFL.
DirectTV has the problem of deploying ugly satellite dishes on everyone’s roof. Delivering DirectTV content through AT&T fibre optic pipes would solve a lot if this issue. While still providing great TV service to rural areas Comcast doesn’t reach through its satellites and all over the world the rest of the world.
An infusion of Apple’s money partnering once again with AT&T might just be the quiet partnership Apple is developing in order to deliver APPLE TV service. Comcast doesn’t want to deliver AppleTV content. It competes well with Comcast TV bundles.
Recent arguments over “net neutrality” trying to keep the FCC from fracturing internet provider speeds. Allowing companies like Apple, Netflix and Hulu to pay a premium to deliver their content on a faster track.
Senator Al Franken rallied a campaign against this idea. Originally, I supported his idea of keeping all internet delivery speed the same for everyone. Comcast on the other hand already charges a premium for their high speed cable delivery TO THE CONSUMER and it’s outrageous. So what is new about the new FCC regulations? It allows an Apple or Netflix to buy faster delivery from their side. In a way this could bust Comcast’s grip on the throat of consumers. It doesn’t mean consumers have to study. On the flip side having more competition in the delivery pipes available from AT&T could drive pricing DOWN.
Couple an AT&T GIGABIT Internet pipe with Apple’s worldwide servers capable of storing and delivering the content is the REAL KEY code I think Steve a Jobs was thinking about. Being able to control playback without the local DVR will be a great money saver in terms of the mechanism of AppleTV.