Apple’s next ‘wild card’ may not be what you think

“There’s been a lot of noise that Apple’s ‘surprise’ announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 13) next week will be the launch of a music-streaming service,” Cadie Thompson writes for CNBC.

“But the iPhone maker may have something else up its sleeve,” Thompson writes. “‘The wild card — because there is always a wild card at an Apple event — could be they are opening up their apps platform for Apple TV,’ said Gene Munster, analyst at Piper Jaffray. ‘As it stands, you have to be invited by Apple to develop, so the idea to open it up would be something that is pretty meaningful.'”

Thompson writes, “Peter Misek, managing director and tech analyst for Jefferies & Co., told CNBC in February that he anticipated Apple’s opening up the platform to developers to build apps and games, but he predicted the announcement would come in March. ‘We think there is a huge developer opportunity in the living room, utilizing the existing Apple TV set-top box, which may or may not be in advance of an actual television,’ Misek told CNBC in February. ‘We think developers are clamoring for an opportunity to get access to that.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple TV dominates digital media receiver market with 71% share – May 29, 2013

26 Comments

    1. I don’t know why they haven’t created their own CC company. With 400M users, processing fees are their single biggest non-productive expense. They could turn that into a profit instead.

  1. I love how these analysts tell us that Apple’s “wild card” will be something we don’t expect … and that thing is something most of us have been asking for/predicting for a long time.

    Yup. Total wild card.

  2. At least, two major problems. One is that even the latest version of Apple TV has no storage for apps. It has enough storage for its own operation (for things like caching data), but not for permanently storing downloaded apps and related data.

    Second, the Apple TV only comes with a very simple remote control, which is only good for making selections off the screen, not for controlling most types of highly interactive apps (such as games).

    As I’ve speculated before, the way for Apple to get games and other apps on the HDTV screen is through your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (the iOS device). Let the iOS device run the game or app. When an Apple TV is present, the iOS device shows an optional mode to display THROUGH the Apple TV on the HDTV screen, using a future version of AirPlay. The iOS device’s screen then becomes the remote control device.

    This solves the storage problem, because the app and related files are being stored on the iOS device. It solves interface device problem, because the iOS device’s screen become the interface, customized for each app. It eliminates the need to create a whole new “app store,” and the need for developers to support a whole new platform. The potential audience is HUGE (ALL iOS device users) instead of the relatively small number of existing Apple TV users. And it greatly increases sales of Apple TV, because everyone (with an iOS device) will want one to use this new “AirPlay mode.” It may also explain why a new less expensive iPod touch was released (just before WWDC).

      1. That would work for simple apps. But some graphically complex games (especially those designed to take advantage of a 1080p HDTV screen) will have a large amount of data. It may severely degrade the user’s experience (depending on quality of Internet connection), if they have to wait for five to ten minutes to download the “next level.”

        And you still have the problem of the user’s interface device. You can’t expect the Apple TV user to own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, to use as the Apple TV’s remote control. But if they already own one, because the game is really a regular iOS app that has a new “AirPlay mode,” that’s a different story.

        Developers will also take the plunge to support AirPlay mode, because they are developing apps (which work “normally”) for the entire iOS audience, not just people who own an Apple TV.

    1. “One is that even the latest version of Apple TV has no storage for apps. It has enough storage for its own operation (for things like caching data), but not for permanently storing downloaded apps and related data.”

      Actually, the Apple TV has 8GB of storage. If you jailbreak it, you’ll see most of it goes unused even when you’ve buffered an entire HD movie.

      Speaking of jailbreaking, there have been numerous apps available on the Apple TV if you jailbreak, so somehow it’s working there.

      And of course Apple could always release an update to the Apple TV with more storage and better interaction with other iOS devices, or even a new remote.

    2. ken1w, there’s no future needed in what you describe: I already use AirPlay to display my game on Apple TV to the players, while the iPad screen is showing game controls needed by the host. AirPlay “appears” to an iOS app as a second screen and we just control it like we do the main screen. It’s confusing in iOS 6 because the Apple interface calls it “mirroring” — and I guess it is, until you launch my app, which sees the second screent (the TV) and begins assembling the views I want displayed there for the assembled gamers.

      That said, I would definitely prefer to do this in a more elegant way. There is lag time over AirPlay that is hard to quantify: It just sometimes happens.

      1. It also happens already in a much more simple example, when you use an Apple TV remote control app on the iOS device, to control the basic functions of an Apple TV. The iOS device becomes a remote control, and the Apple TV does the “heavy lifting” to display content on the HDTV. And that’s where the “future” version of AirPlay needs to go, to take it to the next level with games and other interactive apps.

        Currently, when you play a game on the iOS device and display it on the HDTV, the iOS device is doing most of the work. It is “streaming” the screen to the HDTV over the network through the Apple TV (like when doing “screen sharing” between two Macs).

        What needs to happen instead, is more like the simple example I described above. The iOS device needs to send a portion of the game’s code (and data) to the Apple TV, to run ON the Apple TV. Then, the Apple TV is again doing the “heavy lifting” and the iOS device become the remote control device, sending mostly user control input data during gameplay, not data to reproduce the entire screen. The “lag time” you experience will be gone, and the user experience will not be dependent on your network’s speed, or CPU performance of the iOS device (as long as some minimums are met).

        When (if) Apple implements the above in a new set of APIs, developers will be able to implement “Airplay mode” easily, like supporting a new screen resolution when the iPhone got its Retina Display. For the user, it will just work (from within the game) without additional setup steps.

        1. Your distinction is good and important. But I wouldn’t describe it as easy. It becomes uncoupled execution that requires app-specific communication protocols. But if Apple were to do something to make all of that easier, I’d be all for it. Apple TV is powered by AC and so as a developer I don’t have to worry about it dimming its screen as a power saving feature! (My app today crawls a clear 1×1 pixel across the screen of the Apple TV to prevent the screen saver from kicking in!)

    3. Ken, where you been. Most people use an iDevice for controlling the Apple TV and with Mountain Lion, Macs are able to mirror to it as well. Those little white remotes are gathering dust in a drawer or the box they came in.

  3. Stick Front Row on it and let you hook up a disk full of movies and TV shows. How hard could that be?

    Maybe they will just announce their new-ish partnership with the NSA.

    1. The announcement: Apple will give every bit of data on you to the secret police. The secret police, being above the law and with allegiance to only Big Money, shall monitor FaceTime, email, surfing, calls, everything. That way Power can use our data against you in the future to step on you at its whim to protect America and, more importantly, to get its way. Buy our products so they can get you.

  4. Let me tell u , the next big thing for AAPL is being dragged down by the mothetfuckers who disappoints what Apple announces. And AAPL will drop -20 .

  5. Apple will introduce a new category, a larger screen desktop iPad device. Apps will be custom designed to take advantage of the larger screen. It won’t be a touch screen Mac, it will be an iOS product. This is a natural direction for Apple to go. 
    Multitouch (iOS) is the new UI for computing replacing the mechanical keyboard and trackpad/mouse and Apple is rolling it out in many categories of computing.

    iPhone trumps Blackberry (keyboard & trackpad) Blackberry lost major market share. 

    iPad trumps Laptop (keyboard & trackpad) Laptop losing market share and IDC says they will be outsold by Tablets in the near future.

    i” ”   trumps Desktop (keyboard & trackpad/mouse) 

    If anyone can accomplish this Apple can. Expect Microsoft, Google (Android) and hardware manufacturers (Samsung) to ape this big time like they did with iPhone and iPad. And watch as the anti-Apple crowd supports these companies and not the creators who found the correct recipe for these compelling and successful devices.  

    Without a company like Apple who is THE ONLY COMPANY in the computer space who creates hardware, software and services under one roof, I’m convinced that we would still be using Blackberry type devices and definitely no multitouch Tablets to this very day. 

    1. Really? A larger iPad? Haven’t heard that but once or twice before. Could be interesting? You’re the only one predicting that though. I guess we’ll see Monday.

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