Apple’s TV dinner

Originally written for

What a shame ‘iTV’ was already taken. Now the company behind the iMac, iTunes, and iPod, are shipping the… AppleTV – and signs are that Apple could be pipping Microsoft to the much-coveted living room market writes Paul Bradshaw.

Not content with the grey box in your spare room, Microsoft have been eyeing up the black one in your living room for some time now. When they launched the Xbox, many pundits noted the fact that it could be linked to the PC to play video and audio onto the TV. Likewise, higher-end versions of Windows Vista include Windows Media Center, which in theory can do the same.

But the vast majority of people haven’t exploited these functions – Xbox owners just want to play games; most computer owners barely understand the computer, let alone wireless extensions and add-ons.

AppleTV may be the product to change all that. While there are an estimated 12 million active users of the Media Center PC, with iTunes Apple have a customer base nearly 10 times that. Some of these already watch video on iPods, while iTunes downloads of the movie Cars have already reached $25 million.

And Apple have pulled off this trick many times before. They didn’t invent the personal computer, but popularised it with a user-friendly interface (which Windows then used even more successfully); they didn’t invent the mp3 player but created a product that has become synonymous. Other companies have tried to create a ‘set-top box’ for PC content, but Apple have the experience to make something Joe Public can understand.

For less than £200 AppleTV will be able to hold up to 50 hours of movies and TV shows, and will be able to wirelessly stream content stored on iTunes, but it also has the potential to provide digital video recording, video-on-demand, gaming and advertising. If Virgin Media think Sky are their biggest threat, they may want to look to America…

Useful links:

Apple riding ‘Trojan horse’ to living rooms

Is Apple TV bigger than the iPhone?

Paul Bradshaw lectures on the new Masters in Television and Interactive Content at UCE Birmingham media department. He writes a number of blogs including the Online Journalism Blog, Interactive PR and Web and New Media.


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