BusinessWeek: Steve Jobs’ Apple TV ‘hobby’ boosted with improvements, much more to come

Apple Store“On May 30, in a conversation with Walt Mossberg at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed exactly what he has in mind for the Apple TV, and while it doesn’t look like a big deal today, the implications are very interesting. After a software upgrade available in mid-June, Apple TV users will be able to watch video downloads from Google’s YouTube,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek.

“Jobs described Apple TV as a ‘hobby,’ saying that Apple’s three main businesses are the Mac, the iPod and the iTunes store, and soon, the iPhone. There’s not much of a business yet in bridging the gap between Internet video and the TV set—Jobs ballparked the current addressable market at just hundreds of thousands of users. So for now, Apple TV remains an interesting sideshow to its existing $20 billion to $24 billion business of selling Macs, iPods, iPhones, and everything else Apple purveys. In time, it may grow into something much bigger, just as the iPod did,” Hesseldahl reports.

“Hobby is an interesting choice of words, considering how important Internet video is widely expected to become in the next several years. Market research firm eMarketer reckons that ad spending in conjunction with Internet videos could grow to a $3-billion-a-year business. So when Steve Jobs calls something a hobby, I’m reminded of a professional baseball player named Bo Jackson who took up a “hobby” in 1987—playing pro football for the Oakland Raiders. Only one month into that hobby, Jackson rushed for 221 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, a rushing record for a Monday night game, and scored three touchdowns,” Hesseldahl reports.

“My expectation is that this is only the first in a long line of partnerships bringing video of all kinds to the Apple TV,” Hesseldahl writes. “The outlook may even be more promising than in the early days of the iPod…”

Full article here.

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  1. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple TV will become as ubiquitous as the iPod. Plus, if Apple can continue to make deals with other online content distributors like Joost and YouTube, then I wonder how long will it take before people start turning in their cable boxes. For AT&T to compete with Comcast, Time Warner, etc., this seems like the perfect trojan horse. As always, time will tell.

  2. Unfortunately I think there are so many patents, players and partnerships in that arena that Apple is too late, too little to that game, and has realized it. They will continue to throw a little energy and effort in that direction as long as it is profitable and compliments their other endeavors (namely iTunes), but based on Apple’s statements and lack of emphasis/support for the appleTV is doesn’t look like they will be able to take it to its full potential. If they had partnered with TiVo early on, it might have been something quite different, and much more ground-breaking. After all, right now TV does what appleTV does, and much, much more (and better).

  3. As I see it, the (potential) strength of Apple TV is that traditionally TV is a rather fixed medium, you have a player that plays dvd’s, you have cable boxes which received signals, in general it’s plug and play. The internet is flexible, it changes, can be upgraded and so on.

    The internet has major advantages in the modern age in that it can adapt to new things and new ways of viewing things since it’s software primarily, whereas new TV means new boxes for everone, typically before turning off the old method. Apart from the obvious problem of a computer not being a TV and where TV’s are, the internet as a medium has a problem in that it has almost too much choice, too many ways of doing things that it can take a long time to get a standard which people can adopt and use broadly. Apple TV seems to have the potential of filtering out the best of the internet whilst viewing it in a passive, TV type environment. Content is thin on the ground – but it can and seemingly is growing.

  4. They say there are two types of people in the world: spectators, and participants. The world of YouTube, another form of the rapidly emerging self-publishing phenomena, cements the two.

    It’s not a stretch to say this could be enormous – the development of a second life for each and every participant.

    You only live twice……

  5. The pursuit of the Holy Grail of home entertainment (the infamous set-top box) is a “hobby” to Jobs.

    Uh-huh… Yeah, right…

    Wait a minute… isn’t this one of the guys who designed and built personal computers in someone’s garage as a hobby some 30 years ago?

    Oh, that’s what I thought.

  6. without support for DivX/XviD playback, appleTV will be a no-no for big majority of people, especially those with loads of “downloaded” content ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”tongue laugh” style=”border:0;” />

  7. SJ calls Apple TV a hobby. I call it a gambit — an opening gambit, as in chess. Apple is gradually putting together the Apple TV ecosystem, piece by piece, partner by partner. Let the doubters expose their lack of vision with their asinine postings and/or analysis, laughing at Apple for its Apple TV “failure”. For quite some time, I have been laughing too — when I open my periodic reports from my stock broker.

    Apple had to put out a real product so that their potential partners had something real to target. Apple will be guiding the acceptance of the open codecs, formats, protocols and legal arrangements that will dominate this product category. Then, they will have won and their competitors will hardly know what hit them. Nobody knows this business – content, technology, legal issues and partnering like Steve Jobs. I bet the farm on him – AAPL, that is — and I get to smile a lot. Those who bet against him seem to lose.

  8. I don’t think ATV does what tv does. I think there is a big potential for rerun Tv shows (which you can’t control on cable, you only watch what is scheduled) to find a niche. YouTube is not on the tele.
    A rerun of survivor is not waiting for you on the tele. The internet has many shows at your disposal without subscribing to yet another company (TIVO).
    AOL has many shows for veiwing (if you use Windows/IE)
    This needs simplicity and that’s the magic of YouTube, it’s ONE portal. Viacom and EMI through YouTube, perfect. Inprove quality and selection further, That’s hitting for the cycle.
    I think there is a true possibilty here, if it cathces on with the younger generation, the future of Tv viewers. TV and ATV work very nice together. Put a DVD Player in the ATV, or give us the ability to stream our own DVD’s to ATV…Hello.

  9. Hobby, hmm I think that’s a poor choice of words. As soon as you can play other formats and rent content the Apple TV and the video portion of iTunes, may very well become Apple’s biggest business in terms of revenue.

  10. Apple seems to be becoming a bigger and bigger “star” that huge “planets” are beginning to gravitate to. Apple harmonising with Google, Disney, AT&T, EMI, Cisco (“Please! Please! Can I Join? Can I?”) – the prospect of that type of corporate “planetary” system must be giving Gates Balmer cold sweats.

  11. “without support for DivX/XviD playback, appleTV will be a no-no for big majority of people, especially those with loads of “downloaded” content “

    Yeah, just what Apple needs, a bunch of freeloading leeches as customers…

  12. @ Ryan, DivX Has a history of being used to rip dvd’s and distribute them illegally, if Apple inc. were to support it, they would open themselves to too many lawsuits.

    There is a QuickTime component available for XviD in OS X.
    You still have issues of piracy but more important there are not a lot of players out there that support it.

    The question to answer is…All those people with loads of downloaded content, how much of it is on the right side of copyright law? If it is, they should’nt be having dificulties accessing it. I guess people buy the right equipment for the stuff they’ve got.

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