“I recall the arguments when Cable TV was first getting started which concluded no one would ever be stupid enough to pay for something they can get for free. Well there are clearly a good chunk of us who are terminally stupid because cable was a success although I think many of us probably wish it hadn’t been,” Rob Enderle writes for Digital Trends in an article in which he also takes a look at potential Apple TV competitors from AMD, Cisco, and Microsoft.
“With Cable you are typically locked in to what the cable company wants to use for hardware and the programming the cable company wants to provide. Most of the hardware truly sucks and generally, if you want to see a DVR done badly, all you have to do is get your Cable or Satellite Company to send you one,” Enderle writes. “There are a number of companies coming out with alternatives and Apple is likely to set the pace, largely because they can do more than spell ‘marketing’ but all of the initial offerings are flawed suggesting generation 2, or 3 will be when you’ll want to check them out.”
“Of the four platforms recently launched, Apple TV is the most limited although it may be the easiest to use. Apple has had problems with subscription content (which is how you pay for your cable programming now) and we believe one of the reasons this product has taken a while to come to market is that content deals have been very hard to come by. And long term for a product like this, content is probably the major defining factor,” Enderle writes.
Enderle writes, “Like most Apple products, the [Apple TV] is attractive, well packaged, and it will be wrapped with solid demand generation marketing. If successful, the revenue potential for [Apple TV] dwarfs that for the trendier iPhone because the available market is potentially much larger. The iPhone’s price alone, at least initially, will hold down volumes.”
“As with all Apple products, the offering appears very easy to use and should be equal to or better than some of the best existing products in this regard,” Enderle writes. “The off-air solution, being able to behave like a DVR and pull content as it is played, isn’t yet implemented (but may show up with Leopard) and currently that is still where most of what people actually want to watch is located.”
“Exposures will likely come with interoperability problems. Home servers and home NAS devices, at least for now, don’t appear compatible and you are tied back to a desktop PC (preferably a Mac) running iTunes,” Enderle writes.
Enderle writes, “Apple marketing should be able to gloss over a number of these shortcomings early on, but to be successful they will have to be addressed eventually because the competing offerings are maturing very quickly. Apple TV will legitimize the class through their marketing efforts but other choices may turn out to be vastly better in use by year-end so Apple will need to improve this initial offering very quickly. This product does point to Apple’s historic strength, they don’t have the most features but what they do have is well marketed and not intimidating. It worked for the iPod and it could work here.”
In the full article, Enderle looks at offerings from AMD, Cisco, and Microsoft, here.
David Pogue demos Apple TV in humorous NY Times’ video – March 22, 2007
PC Magazine review gives Apple TV 4 out of 5 stars – March 22, 2007
NY Times’ Pogue: ‘Apple TV offers a gracious, elegant, effortless, delightful experience’ – March 21, 2007
Mossberg hands-on with Apple TV: ‘beautiful design, easy-to-use, classic Apple: simple and elegant’ – March 21, 2007