I'm a father, manager, programmer, scrum master, geek, & movie lover.

The Next AppleTV

Apple’s cost *could* be as little as $394. Yes, that’s close to the retail cost of a lot of 32” LCD TVs, but still at least $100 less than the best ones available.What about remote controls?Remote controls (yes, even Harmony Remotes), are a nightmare right now, and the current AppleTV remote is no exception. Unlike GoogleTV and every TV that has ‘widgets’ built-in, Apple’s new remote will be as easy to use as the old pre-remote CRT televisions; yes, the ones where you had to get up out of the chair, and turn the knobs. Touch interfaces make this possible, as evidenced by countless youtube videos of babies using iPads & iPhones. The new AppleRemote will take the form of a very stripped down iOS touch-screen device. I believe this device is the cause of all the “iPhone Nano” rumours. It’s not a phone or an iPod Touch — it’s a remote. A dedicated iOS remote device makes sense because iPhones & iPod Touches tend to leave the room as people leave the room. Inevitably, someone’s left with no way to control the screen. With a dedicated remote, that won’t be a problem. It will only be able to run apps from the new AppleTV ChannelStore. It will have a very weak graphics card, just enough to render UIs, and tell the AppleTV itself what to do. Because the remote offloads all the hard work to the AppleTV, it will have amazing battery life. It won’t come with the regular suite of iOS apps, and because it’s designed to be shared, it won’t come with the email app either. It won’t have much built-in storage; no cameras; no sensors; no headphone jack or speakers. The only thing it has lots of, is minimalism. It will have Wi-Fi for downloading ChannelApps & controlling the AppleTV. Unlike regular apps, all Channel Apps will do is display an interface. They don’t actually display the video. The remote will tell the AppleTV what video to display, and the AppleTV will grab the stream directly from the internet. The interface that displays on the remote will probably be limited to 2D or simple 3D, and an on-screen keyboard will pop-up when required. It will be very much like a physical remote, but more flexible. This is what makes it so usable. If that sounds crazy, here’s an example of it from real life: It will work very similar to adventure games on the Nintendo DS — you manage your inventory etc on the lower screen (remote) while you actually see what’s happening on the upper screen (AppleTV). The Nintendo DS has been the number one portable for years, and I’m sure Apple knows that and will capitalize on it. Want another example? This one comes from the AppStore!? Yep. Check out the game “Real Racing 2 HD” on the iPad2. When you connect the iPad to an HDTV, you see the racetrack’s layout on the iPad, and you control the game using the iPad, but you actually see what’s happening on the TV. The iPad is effectively just a really big remote control. AppleTV episodes won’t contain advertisements/commercials (at least not in the traditional sense/manner), because it detracts from the video watching experience. Downloads of complete commercial-less seasons TV, and the increase in demand for TV-on-DVD are evidence of that. Apple will implement some kind of innovative business model around this strategy. Yes, TV is extremely competitive market, BUT this AppleTV strategy drive sales of iOS devices (to use as remotes), and content revenue from apps, and increase the iOS developer adoption. Selling the actual devices at or near cost (as they do with the iPad) will help keep competition at bay for forseeable future. When you look at the TV market like this, it seems just as ripe for disruption as the cellular market was before the iPhone. People knew an Apple Phone was coming, but nobody foresaw the effects it would have on the mobile landscape.

Comments from my old blog:

Derek Martin said: My friend Zaid pointed out that my math is wrong. I increased both the length AND width by 10x, giving a 100X increase in pixels, not a 10X increase. Oops! I still think they might support 2x 1080p, which wold be 3840x2160. Apple originally said the iPhone4 was “Retina” because at the distance you normally hold a phone, you could no longer see the pixels. Well, we sit much further from TVs than we do from phones. Maybe 2x 1080p would be dense enough to qualify a TV as a Retina display.

Interestingly, one of the default desktop background images that ships with OS X Lion measures 3800x2000. Maybe “Retina” will be coming to the Desktop and the TV at the same time. Tim Ricchuiti seems to think so - at 2011-04-22 19:24:03

Ian said: Their new data centre is a little mysterious. At the bare minimum, I see a limited free version of MobileMe, with, at least, contacts and calendar syncing hosted from there. And from what I understand, none of the iTunes content is served from their servers right now, so they might just start using their own servers for that as well. I would love them to get better content deals, a la Netflix. I don’t think the current $1 to rent, $2+ to buy is a good model. Netflix has a much better model, in my opinion (certainly it is used much more than iTunes).

In terms of resolution, there is no way they’ll up it to anything above 1080p in the short term because of Internet bandwidth. I would pass my 60 GB cap with one movie. Plus, you can’t see the extra pixels from 8 feet back, unless you’ve got a gigantic tv. For 30-35 inch TVs, 720p is “retina” already (in that you can’t see the pixels).

I am doubtful they will enter the tv market in the short term. I think the Apple tv is their answer. It’s cheap enough that people will get one on a whim. I strongly expect an app store for it though. I think that will be the next thing. All the video apps for iOS will be able to write apps for it in a couple of weeks. at 2011-04-20 15:07:06