Apparently Steve Jobs set out a 5 year plan towards his last days at Apple. If one product from that plan succeeds then his greatest and most lasting legacy will be one he sadly never got to see. Because it seems to me that Apple Televisions (I am not referring to the Apple TV box) are going be so big that they will dwarf anything achieved by the iPhone and iPad. That is a bold statement given the billion $ business those both represent. So here?s why.
Apple is really, really good at spotting weak gaps in a market. The genius of iPod wasn?t that it was a cool portable music player. What was clever was for Apple (Jobs) to spot that people were doing something illegal (downloading music without paying) only because they could not get what they wanted simply, legally, even if they wanted to pay. iTunes solved this problem and along with streaming has helped the music industry bounce back. Today even though it is easy to get songs illegally many (most?) of us who own iTunes simply purchase because we inherently prefer to do the right thing, the price is right and it is easy.
Now consider the TV and movie industry. Piracy is rampant. As someone mentioned to me the other day, who really needs a 100MB connection to their home except for one thing? This brilliant comic strip from theoatmeal.com illustrates why and I covered some of this in my earlier blog about streaming. The fact is that people are getting content illegally once again because they cannot get it the way they want it. In this case current shows and films available when they want to watch them and without adverts.
What iPod and iTunes did for music, I believe, we will see Apple Televisions and Apple Airplay do to TV and movies. Just as there were MP3 players when iPod launched, there are internet TV?s now. So those are not new. But just as iPod recreated the entire mobile music experience, so will Apple Televisions change the way we experience home entertainment.
The "Convenient" Effect
Check out Apple?s Airplay technology. If you click on the link you can see how it simply allows users to stream content from their tablet direct to their TV. Now imagine a new super gorgeous flat screen TV with an interface that?s easier to use than any traditional remote control (you will use your iPhone or iPad as the controller, further fueling sales of those). Now add a seamless connection to the web that allows on demand access for all the content that you want, when you want it.
As an aside my guess is that we will also see some really cool new features like auto mute when you receive a phone call. Imagine Facetime being transmitted straight to the big screen for video chat too.
The hard part for iTunes at the beginning was to convince the record industry to give up its cherished traditions and embrace the new medium. I don?t imagine it will be any easier for the TV and movie industry. But Apple is not Netflix. They have reach, cash, a proven track record of being trusted with content. Some will move quickly, others will come later, just like the record labels.
Now imagine that everyone of those who currently own iPhones and iPads decides to go out and buy Apple Televisions and it is not hard to see how this becomes the greatest Apple product to date.