Motorola exec on Apple TV: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be a big dud’

Apple Store“With the Apple TV now shipping, the question remains: will people want one and, if so, what will its impact on the market be? The question is whether Apple will rise to the top, or be swamped by the existing solutions,” Bryan Gardiner writes for PC Magazine. “Can it carve out a niche?”

Gardiner reports, “Unsurprisingly, vendors of existing products don’t think so. In fact, Jeff Binder, senior director of Motorola’s Connected Home Solutions, said the Apple TV unit might very well turn out to be what he characterized as a ‘dud.'”

“‘It’s orders of magnitude less interesting than the iPod,’ he said of the new Apple TV. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be a big dud, frankly, but it will give [Apple] a lot of knowledge. They’re an innovative company; they’ll learn from their mistakes.’ When asked if Motorola was worried that Apple TV would challenge (or move in on) the set-top box market, Binder didn’t seem too troubled. ‘I don’t really think [our set-top boxes] compete with it at all,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Apple in the computing market…but just generally really I don’t see it as a competitive product. It’s a pretty nifty gadget, but it doesn’t change the way we watch the television. It’s different than how the iPod changed the way we listened to music.’ Binder went on to say that there are three keys areas where Apple TV fails: as a PVR (personal video recorder), in HD (high definition), and its lack of support for video on demand,” Gardiner reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple TV also fails as a major league pitcher, but it doesn’t try to be one, either. Ditto for the PVR. HD can be turned on at the iTunes Store level (when both bandwidth and content providers’ comfort becomes more plentiful) and, indeed, Apple TV is capable of HD (1080i) right now. Apple TV does not lack support for video-on-demand (quite the contrary) – it’s just not being used by Apple beyond movie trailers and short clips right now.

Over a year ago, in January 2006, Technology Review’s Daniel Turner astutely asked, “If Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple’s website, why not whole movies?”

And, just two days ago, Walt Mossberg wrote in his Apple TV review, “Apple TV’s most important limitation is that it can’t stream much video or audio directly from the Internet — yet. The capability to go directly to the Internet, bypassing the computers in your home, is built in, but is initially being used only to fetch feature film trailers and short preview clips of popular songs, TV shows and movies sold on the iTunes store. Apple TV also won’t allow you to buy media directly from the iTunes store. You must first download content from the Internet or iTunes on a computer, and then Apple TV will grab it from the computer and play it on the TV. In its usual secretive fashion, Apple refuses to say if or when this direct-to-the-Internet capability will be expanded. But we fully expect Apple to add the capability to stream or download a variety of content directly from the Internet, and that this new capability will be available on current Apple TV boxes through software updates.”

Gardiner continues, “Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research, takes a different view, saying that comparing Apple TV to other solutions likes DVRs and is actually unfair. ‘It’s like being in the market for a car, and comparing a Toyota Prius to the Sequoia,’ Gartenberg said. ‘If you’re looking at the Prius, you’re certainly not considering the Sequoia. I just don’t see [Apple TV] as competing with those products at all. What this is really about is leveraging the platform that iTunes has become…getting that content to the most important screen in the home: the TV. If you’re a part of that ecosystem, this is product form you,’ Gartenberg said.”

Full article here.
We can smell that Motorola lackey’s fear through the Internet. It’s a rational fear. 110 million iTunes users and counting. 110 million. Surely, he can see that there’s more to Apple TV than immediately meets the eye. Apple’s future moves are going to be very exciting in this space!

MacDailyNews Note: Apple TV specs:
• Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile
• Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps); protected AAC (from iTunes Store); MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps); MP3 VBR; Apple Lossless; AIFF; WAV
• Photo formats supported: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG
• Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz

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  1. I expect that, through iTunes upgrades as opposed to aTV upgrades, that everything from on demand rentals, to direct access to sites like YouTube will become available. aTV is a computer, don’t forget, which means infinitely upgradeable in terms of features. And again, more than likely, it will be additions to iTunes that add features. The association with a Trojan Horse is utterly appropriate.

  2. I have a couple of HD camcorders and Apple TV has turned out to be just what I needed to view HD clips on my TV without having to burn discs and all that jazz. It’s good that it lets you get shows and movies off the iTunes Store, too. But, for me, it’s like having your Mac tied to your entertainment center, which I once did but didn’t quite like during the times that I wanted to do other stuff with my computer, like messaging, word processing, page layout, photo and video editing, etc. Not quite ideal at TV display resolutions.

    Apple TV lets me have the cake and eat it, too. Without having to spend on an extra Media Center computer for the living room. Or wire the whole darn place, etc. etc. Get the drift?

    Whoever fails to see how this empowers people to get the most bang from their investment in home computer and consumer electronics is an idiot by definition.

  3. Hmmmm,

    My Apple TV does not have 4 wheels, and cannot take me in the mud, snow and ice. What kind of crappy SUV is this anyway!!

    My Apple TV is very small and does not have long wooden legs. I cannot put much food on it. What kind of crappy dining table is this anyway?

    My Apple TV does not have leg holes, torso hole, draw string or pockets and is not waterproof. What kind of crappy swimsuit is this anyway?

    Please guys, it is not meant to replace your $35 DVD player, VHS, or DVD burner. All of which can be bought cheaply from some one else.


  4. What he said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be a big dud.”

    What he meant:

    “I will be humbled if it isn’t a big dud.”

    “I will be fired if it isn’t a big dud.”

    “It’s no surprise that I often pull my pud.”

  5. I love my iPod because I don’t have to purchase tracks from the ITMS if I already have them in another popular format like mp3. This is the major drawback to the Apple TV as far as I can tell. One cannot reasonably provide video from other sources (read BitTorrent xvid or divx) to the Apple TV. And this is why I’m not interested in purchasing it. Support popular formats, and I’ll buy one.

  6. Problems with the selling of AppleTV:
    1. Apple does not know how to properly advertise its products. It relays mainly on free P.R. and customer user buzz.
    Apple TV is tough to advertise – it does not click immediately as to why one must have this.
    2. The iPod sold so well because everyone that owned one showed it to the world everyday. More people saw, asked about it, wanted it bought it.
    You can´t do that with Apple TV. It´s a little $299 box that sits hidden away by the TV.
    3. A household only needs one AppleTV (if that). With iPod it is potentially a sale for each family member. Same with comptuers (everyone in our house has their own computer or two). You only need one AppleTV.
    4. Apple does not know how to advertise (repeat) where is the big ad campaign to back up the intro of Apple TV? Did I miss it?

  7. “HD can be turned on at the iTunes Store level (when both bandwidth and content providers’ comfort becomes more plentiful).”


    There’s no reason that it can’t be turned on right now.. Microsoft is offering HD/5:1 surround content with it’s xbox live store. Apple should as wel. The quality of content is by far consumers biggest gripe regarding this solution.. And quite frankly, it is a legitimate gripe. The video offerings from iTunes are subpar both visually and sonically (no surround.) It didn’t stop me from buying an Apple tv, because it’s great for my music and photos, but I will not be purchasing video content until the quality is acceptable for a widescreen high definition tv.

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