The impending or maybe never ‘AppleTV’ and what it means for storefront developers

“Yep. If there is going to be an actual TV… the SDK for the current device will be its herald.”

Changed my mind on this statement. I guess I was just really hoping that they would publish a SDK and have an AppStore… but they have still not released one for the current AppleTV Puck..  but I was wondering what if they don’t for a year or so after releasing the mythical AppleTV?

Apple make ~30% either way – So they may not really care if content providers sell content through iTunes or some custom store-front…  but.. what if the SDK does not come for a long while and nobody else can build a store-front and publish it as an App?

If Apple ever release a TV and release it without a SDK, (like they did the iPhone) and it becomes the hot ‘must be on’ platform, it could result in a sudden consolidation of content on existing Apple TV store-fronts  Netflix, iTunes, Hulu and maybe iTunes/Vimeo (once they get their pay per view features released).

Apple seems to have maintained a constant 15-20% share of the smartphone market since launch of the iPhone. I’m extrapolating from this.

The iPhone went from 0 to a significant market share in 12 months but I don’t know if it’s possible to replicate that with AppleTV given that TV’s are upgraded on a much longer time-scale compared to phones.

We don’t know what the delay would be between the release and the SDK.  For the iPhone it was 6 months.

This could be good for store-front developers  if some big players, reacting to the hype generated by the AppleTV release want to rapidly go to everything else but Apple because ‘everything else’ will still have a bigger market share than Apple.

The downside for store-front developers is that it may also force a lot of content providers into iTunes/YouTube, and they may get to like it.

At this point my gut feeling and some back of the napkin calculations are that if Apple launched a TV it would take them 3 years to reach 15% – unless they released something so revolutionary and ‘highly affordable’ that nothing else made sense to buy.

The features in any Smart  TV are obsoleted by a $200 STB within 2 years – the screen is what matters and the incoming 4k and H.265 standards have put a nail in the coffin of the current generation of Smart TVs.

A technology that competes on screen and features at a 5-10 year cycle can’t keep up with a device that competes only on features at fraction of the price.

Apple are going to have to put a 4k screen in and a very very future proof set of features (fast CPU, not a mobile phone engine, but a PC or console engine) – so I think it’s a no-brainer that if the guts of the AppleTV are any good , it is not going to be ‘highly affordable’.

My opinion is that Apple would be stupid to make a Smart TV and should make an affordable dumb 4k screen with some clever embedded sensors and an upgraded AppleTV puck with a PVR and get people to upgrade the puck every few years.

But Apple will probably want to do something amazing. Maybe they will make it desirable to upgrade your TV every 2 years?  An upgradable motherboard slot for the TV? Upgrade via a puck? Maybe something ‘different’.

My guess is that they are aiming with one product to expand into the game console market and try and take over the IPTV PVR market too.

Also.. the new Xbox720 is rumoured to have HDMI pass-through which is a clear indicator that they are going for  ‘always on’ and control of whatever is passed through the XBox.  I see funky Kinect augmented interfaces in our future.

Apple vs Microsoft war for the lounge room  – here we come.

About James McParlane

CTO Massive Interactive. Ex Computer Whiz Kid - Now Grumpy Old Guru.
This entry was posted in IPTV, Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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