How Apple could make an iPod for television

“A few weeks ago, my colleague Paul Boutin observed in these pages that Apple had once again failed to release a home media center. He argued, persuasively, that Apple was sitting this out because the dream of a holy ‘convergence’ between computer and home theater system is misguided. ‘When you use a computer, you want to lean forward and engage with the thing, typing and clicking and multitasking,’ he wrote. ‘When you watch Lost, you want to sit back and put your feet up on the couch,'” Steven Johnson writes for Slate.

MacDailyNews Take: How original. “You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on… The problem is, when you’re using your computer you’re a foot away from it, you know? When you’re using your television you want to be ten feet away from it. So they’re really different animals.” – Steve Jobs, Apple Computer CEO (Macworld, February 2004)

Johnson continues, “I think Paul’s absolutely right about the limitations of media center convergence. That doesn’t mean Apple shouldn’t bring an iTV to market, though. Apple has an opportunity here, but it is not a matter of merging the computer with the home theater system. Their opportunity lies, simply, in fixing the way we watch media from the couch—because today’s home theater systems are fundamentally broken.”

Johnson writes, “The iPod, after all, wasn’t a fusion of the Mac and a digital music player; it was its own new thing. In many ways, Apple is uniquely positioned to transform the home AV space the way they transformed the music industry. They have the best interface designers on the planet, and they have immense consumer electronics credibility and brand loyalty thanks to the iPod. They’ve also developed the open Bonjour standard that enables different components on a home network to communicate effortlessly. Bonjour is central to Apple’s AirTunes feature, which lets you stream music to speakers over Wi-Fi using Airport Express stations. This is a great example of what a smart AV network should look like. When you insert an audio cable into an Airport Express, it automatically appears as an option for audio output in iTunes. If Apple built an iTV that worked this seamlessly, that consolidated all its functions around a single remote and established a standard for communication between components, they might well have an iPod-sized hit.”

Full article here.


  1. I still want wifi in my car and have an iPod integrated which updates wirelessly when it’s parked in my garage!

    If I had lcd screens in the back seat for the kids, maybe I’d want to sync tv too (but don’t tempt me to put video on my navigation screen on the dashboard, that’d just be dangerous!)

  2. The obstacle to Apple being able to pull of such a device is the fact that there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

    You have,

    Television Manufacturers
    Cable and Satalite Providers
    Content Creators

    All fighting desperately to be relevant and have control over their little slice of the digital livingroom.

    Apple being able to create a device that sits atop all these other devices and services and have it work transparently is near impossible.

  3. I’m usually on the computer while I watch tv – either the real tv, or another window on the screen streaming something or playing a DVD. I hardly ever watch DVDs on the TV anymore, even when I have company – ‘course this 23″ display is pretty decent for that!

    Anyway – my point: Am I switching my brain off and on at the same time? Backburnering the tv while I surf? Or is it the other way around?

  4. “”A few weeks ago, my colleague Paul Boutin observed in these pages that Apple had once again failed to release a home media center.”

    LOL Apple failed to release a product that they have never said they were even working on, that the media has created in its own collective conciousness in order to drive readership and page hits.

    What’s next? Apple failing to deliver a perpetual motion machine and a cure for cancer?

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