Smart telly trends make Apple 'iTV' a certainty
Cupertino would be mad not to
It's no longer a question of whether Apple will produce a TV - the so-called 'iTV' - but when. That's the clear conclusion to be drawn from an analysis of TV technology trends provided by DisplaySearch, a market watcher, at Panasonic's 2012 Convention today.
Starting inside the box and working out, we're at the stage where phones, tablets and TVs have the same core content presentation capabilities: they can all work with HD content, even if some of them lack the pixels to present it at full resolution. This derives from the use of the common building blocks: low-power CPUs and GPUs merged into system-on-a-chip parts.
TVs didn't use to have such sophisticated technology on board, but the need to offer a broader array of content, almost all of it coming from the internet, than broadcast television alone, and to present it with an engaging UI, is making TVs internally more like computers. Not every set will be a so-called Smart TV, but more and more of them will be, especially in established markets.
At a basic level, then, TVs, tablets and smartphones - thinking of them as content presentation devices - are now all but identical. Only the size of display they incorporate separates one from the other.
Even tellies need to be dual-core, Panasonic said this week.
It's not hard to envisage, then, punters simply using all of these devices according to the needs of a given moment. TV for home viewing in company; tablets for viewing outside the home or within it in rooms where there is no TV; and phones for ad hoc viewing on the move.
Apple has two of these devices in its product portfolio, so why not complete the set? Especially since these devices will increasingly complement each other in other ways too. Apple was one of the first companies to offer a smartphone app for controlling its set-top boxes, but there's an opportunity to extend this so the app doesn't merely replace the traditional remote but takes on a role the old button boxes can't.
How about allowing a remote app to change a device's settings without interrupting what's being shown on screen, so you can tinker with the sound or colour balance without annoying your other half? Or to continue watching your favourite show on the smaller screen while you fix yourself a drink or nip to the loo?
Need to key in an internet address or a search string to find a programme on BBC iPlayer? That's easier on a smartphone or tablet than a regular remote. Who wants a separate Qwerty deck for these occasional text entry instances? Voice control and gesture recognition technology are advancing, but they can't yet simplify the complexity of a fully internet-friendly remote control without significant compromise.
The explosion of content sources which has driven this need for better control tech has also revealed the need for new approaches to content discovery. In a world of thousands of channels, EPGs quickly become unmanageable. Technology can hide that complexity, to provide not only a more simple but more personal EPG, and one that ties into diverse information sources, from reviews to Twitter hashtags.
This isn't a problem only Apple is able fix, though its UI development heritage puts it in a strong position to do so. But it does have an edge in delivering content in an easy to access way. The iTunes App, Book, Music and Movie Stores show that, and the company is said to have undertaken an attempt to streamline these even further.
Having, recast these services as cloud-based providers - getting an item of content onto a device is no longer a once-only process, though it really needs to enable streaming as an alternative to downloading - it can feed content to a TV as easily as to phones or tablets.
Next page: Telly vision
Dual core tellies
The way they're slamming silicon into domestic consumer electronics, the time of the Red Dwarf talking toaster cannot be far.
Strange. I agree with almost all of the arguments put forth in the article, but still disagree with the overall conclusion.
I think making a success out of the TV market will be harder for Apple than cracking the mobile phone market. Unlike the mobile market, TV makers are already competing against each other for smart features, and an Apple TV would not be significantly better than competitors at launch. The original iphone had very few real competitors, which is why it has had such a strong following.
The big 'in' Apple should have is their controllers - iphone, ipad, ipod touch - which should allow them to give a highly polished UX. Despite this, there is nothing stopping other manufacturers from also adding controller apps to ios, so even that isn't a good lock in.
How people buy TVs is also wildly different to how they buy phones. A user who would upgrade their phone every other year is much more common than a user who will upgrade their TV every other year. Also, TVs are sold on price, price and features so I can't see an Apple premium being too appealing.
At $JOB we predict consumer trends, and we've been gagging to predict this trend (smart TVs) for almost 3 years, it just never looks likely to succeed. The reason why is content.
People buy TVs to watch stuff on them, and the content is locked up by the corps that currently profit from that content. For Apple to break the UK, for instance, they would need to be in bed with Murdoch/Sky, and to have all that content available on their device, and I cannot see the dirty digger ever giving up his content.
Smart TV? No thanks.
I like my screens to be dumb input devices, but even that seems to be asking too much, some tv's nowadays which aren't 'smart' will often have some retarded menu selection method of choosing which input to view content from if you wish to use an external video source. Do the people who make these things actually use them at home, or even for more than 5 minutes?
My mum got one of those freeview satellite DVRs for christmas (finally ditched the VCR) and she does like it, but I was surprised to see an actual physical on/off switch on the back, it wasn't until the box crashed whilst my mum was trying to use the programme guide one time that I realised why - it was the only way to reboot the thing! It makes you wonder how many times people will be reaching for the physical on/off switch because their 'smart' tv crashed...
I agree, but I think the importance of an app ecosystem cannot be understated. If the TV manufacturers continue down the route of only providing proprietary apps for their TVs they will become left behind in the capability stakes.
The way I see it happening is Apple enter the market to some success, IOS apps are available for their TVs which extend the functionality of their product. Manufacturers will continue to try keeping up with their own offerings, but some will give up and use Android/GoogleTV or create an application standard.
I just wish they'd skip to the end before faffing around with the proprietary stuff.
why do they have to...
cram everything into the back of the screen? I just want a big flat screen that I can stick on the wall. Everything else can be in a box somewhere else, connected to the audio system. Oh and while I'm at it, how many people have a box on TOP of their sets?