Here at Perfect, I get to work on some of the coolest projects hitting the market today. As an Apple Fanboy I can’t help but see how all of the pieces of the Apple ecosystem will fit together with the Future of Television and iOS.
Future of Television.
First let me start out by describing what the current TV experience is today. Until now one must either have an DTV receiver or subscribe to a content provider such as Comcast, AT&T, Direct TV etc. Once subscribed the average TV viewer would either browse the TV guide and select shows to record and or watch them live. If you missed a show or forgot to record it, well you’re either going to have to wait until that particular show re-runs or you’re just out of luck. With the advances of Direct TV and U-Verse they have now introduced on-demand tv, with the option to rent movies, watch tv series with the click of a button. Features like U-Verse’s Multi-view (to see multiple channels at once), or the weather/local headline stores it has certainly enhanced the TV experience today. However in the near future this is all about to change.
Apple has the power to revolutionize the television industry with its recently released
iOS 5 and iCloud platform, the TV experience as we know it today will be history. Imagine a TV that can interact with all of your iOS devices. Imagine having the power to pick and choose what you watch when you want, even if it hasn’t aired, without recording it. Imagine having the ability to download apps directly onto your TV to expand your viewing experience, speaking with a friend over face-time through the built-in camera and microphone in your TV, or using your iPhone or iPad as a wireless remote to control your TV or even to play games.
There are many challenges that Apple must consider if they were to take on such a huge endeavor on competing with Direct TV, U-verse, etc.
1) A Subscription model similar to Spotify will need to be in place to make it worth while for cable/satellite subscribers to make the switch.
2) People are accustomed to watching Live TV and recording shows as they’re listed in the TV Guide. Apple will need to take the lead in creating a user interface that basically takes the traditional DVR TV guide to the next level. Here’s how it should work. Networks that signup to be a content provider within the iTunes Store will need to submit a playlist that Apple TV subscribers can play. These playlists would access the on-demand content within iTunes Store. Just like a TV Schedule is submitted to the cable/satellite provider, the playlist will be submitted to iTunes, allowing users to see that day’s suggested lineup. This should be a very visual experience, showing a combination of thumbnails, album art and descriptions. Users would be able to select any non-live show and play it at anytime within the chronological order that it would have aired on Live TV, however there no longer is the need to record it because its already in the library. For those who like to turn on the TV and walk away for background noise, they simply pick a network and press “play all”. This especially makes sense for TV shows that have been previously produced and uploaded to the iTunes Store.
3) Live show’s such as the 5 o’clock news, the Today show on NBC or that tv special that only airs once a year, those shows would simply be a live stream that would be available to be played once the network goes live. Live streams that air would then be immediately archived into the iTunes Cloud/Store available to play immediately. No more recording, no more missing shows waiting for re-runs. This all would happen between the network, and iTunes without the need of interaction from the viewer.
4) All content would be considered on demand. TV Shows, Movies, Music, Games, Apps etc. To address the argument that if it comes on TV, its “FREE”, Apple would have to work with content providers to allow iTunes Subscribers to access all TV Shows, Movies, Music Videos, Interviews etc an unlimited number of times, without an extra fee.
5) The end product must be a well designed Flat-panel LED TV with a Built-in Camera, Microphone, Wifi/Bluetooth that is completely wireless (with exception to the power cord.)
6) For Movie junkies high-quality sound is very important, so Air-Play support is a must to connect to Air-Play ready amplifiers, transmitting loss-less audio to their speakers seamlessly.
7) Content providers will have a hard time letting go control of advertisements and commercials in-between and during broadcasts, so there will need to be some strategic negotiations around incorporating iAd styled commercials within specific playlists or in front of certain content.
Apps and Gaming.
This opens up the door for Apple to open up the market for third-party apps for the “ten foot experience”. Apple has began to dominate the mobile gaming market through its App Store on Mobile Devices. The iOS based TV would allow for developers to create productivity apps for the TV that would be controlled by your iPhone or iPad using a companion app. Apple must develop Apps like video conferencing, Facebook or even an action packed game that takes advantage of the built-in multitouch surface for keyed input, microphone for voice commands using Siri, accelerometer, and gyroscope for gaming controls and gestures. In future releases Apple would utilize the built in camera to have XBOX Kinect like features, thus removing the need for a traditional control altogether.
Timetable and Placement for Success.
With the news of Sharp Corp. to supply LCD Panels for Apple’s next iPad, I speculate that within the next 2-5 years Apple will make updates to the Apple TV before they eventually discontinue the product in hopes to increase sales of a speculated Sharp Corp based TV set. Apple must continually increase their license agreements between content providers to keep a large variety of content readily available on-demand, based on whatever networks potentially plan to air on traditional TV.
Apple has a track record of first dreaming of ‘what is possible’ and then convincing the consumer that their dream is precisely what the consumer has always wanted. I believe Apple can and will have the same influence on television of the future.