I was sitting of all places in the Set Top Box conference in San Jose the past week when Apple made the announcement about the new Apple TV. In fact I was watching the event on my iPad. I have been pretty excited about the announcement, and my team at RawVoice has been spending a lot of time talking about the possibilities. Well as soon as the event was over and the theatrics of Steve Jobs left the stage I immediately knew that the Feature we had wished for had evaporated in front of our eyes.
While I was pleased to see that their was still a podcast link on the menu, the main thing that was missing that would have made this device sexy was applications. If Apple had been thinking they could have introduced a very simple application layer to the device, and at the same time kept the simplicity that Apple loves so that developers could have built applications for the device. But no Apple was not willing to think that far out of the box and instead went the easy way.
I guess Steve Jobs summed it up best when he indicated that the Apple TV was just a Hobby for Apple, while I know he said it in Jest it still pisses me off that they are going to really be left behind in the rich developmental space that is happening in Over the Top TV (OTT). At this point my money is back on Roku, Boxee, Vudu, Samsung, LG etc.. That are opening up their devices for companies like mine to develop channels and applications for.
You can be assured that Cox, Time Warner, Comcast, Dish, Direct TV are not going to go down without a fight, although they are definitively going to be late to the party, but they still have millions of clients that get a new set top box ever 5-7 years. With the average consumer buying a new TV every 24 months and have 3-4 televisions in each home they own the space in the battle to get into the HDMI 1 plug of your TV.
With Samsung and others launching applications layers within the TV itself that will not mater so much, but we have to keep the lean back experience simple for folks so that they can do what they do best with their remote control and that is surf for a channel or content and one thing I can promise you is that RawVoice and our vertical properties are going to be a channel selections in as many devices and TV’s we can build to.
My hope is that Apple will in a few months introduce applications for the Apple TV and when they do it will become my teams highest priority to build into that device as well. But for now you can still find us in the Podcast section of the device, which at this point I am unsure how the integration will work as the new Apple TV does not sync with iTunes. Time will tell, in the meantime I have ordered two. :)