I wrapped up my three-part series on TV yesterday, and in case it wasn’t clear, my conclusion was a pretty specific prediction about the Apple TV:
Imagine a $99 (or $129) “console” with an optional $49 controller and an App Store. That’s a lot of potential escapism, and a lot of user attention. It’s a lot of margin too (presuming the current Apple TV is profitable), especially at high volumes. I think it’s a space where a company that thinks different could have a “a significant contribution” and “crack” TV by not, in fact, being a TV at all.
To be more blunt:
- I think at WWDC Apple will announce an SDK for the current Apple TV
- The control method will be an iOS device
- In the fall, Apple will launch an upgraded model that supports an optional wireless controller1
The entertainment options will be unchanged: no channel guide, no pass through, no DVR functionality. Apple will instead focus on stealing more and more attention away from pay-TV until the content owners are as desperate as the music companies were a decade ago.
Apple has sold 13 million Apple TVs without any advertising (except for this oblique reference) nor any easily articulated reason to buy. An App Store + marketing campaign + borderline impulse purchase price changes that in a very significant way.
The full three-part series.
- Part 1: The Cord-Cutting Fantasy. Getting only the content you want without paying for everything is a fantasy. Pay TV is socialism that works.
- Part 2: Why TV has resisted disruption. Great content is differentiated, has high barriers to entry, and depends on networks.
- Part 3: The Jobs TV Does. The key question is attention, not set top boxes. What jobs do we hire TV to do?
There’s an outside chance the updated Apple TV + controller is also announced at WWDC. My initial thought was Apple would want apps before they actually launch everything, but announcing now could be a good fit for what seems to be a hardware hole in the WWDC lineup (and an overcrowded fall lineup). If they do, presumably it will be with a few name brand apps. Still, I think this is less likely, and probably would have leaked ↩