Apple TV is a lead zeppelin

Apple TV is a lead zeppelin

Summary: The iPod blossomed for two reasons: content portability and piracy/theft. Unlike the iPod, Apple TV will require payment to view content on a big screen.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Apple TVThe iPod blossomed for two reasons: content portability and piracy/theft. Unlike the iPod, Apple TV will require payment to view content on a big screen. Apple can't include DVD ripping tools in its official software so you're going to be limited to viewing content purchased from the iTunes store. This has the potential to make Apple TV be exponentially less successful than iPod.

The other problem is that there isn't a compelling consumer problem the Apple TV solves - whereas the iPod is orders of magnitude better than a CD player. I think that there's a good chance that Apple TV will be a dud. It will be a decent product but not a great product like iPod.

Anti-piracy technology like Audible Magic (free NY Times sub. req'd) is a huge friend of cable because the current cable business model (for programmers) is very profitable. The reason consumers shifted to digital downloads in the music world is because they could get stuff for free. If they can't, and piracy is really stopped, cable will continue to thrive and the alternatives will not be very good.

A friend recently relayed this anecdote:

I was talking to my mother this afternoon and she told me that my family just upgraded to all of Comcast's HD offerings. I then mentioned that a lot of "futurists" (aka blowhards who make up facts) think TV will all be the on the Web. Her response, "Why would anyone watch TV on the Web when there are all of these new wonderful high quality channels on Comcast?"

Touche mom.

*A note on the headline: Led Zeppelin's original name was going to be "The New Yardbirds," but when The Who's Keith Moon told Jimmy Page that "it would probably go over like a lead zeppelin," they changed the name to spite him. The letter "a" was dropped so that it wouldn't be pronounced "leed." (Rolling Stone)

Topic: Apple

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64 comments
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  • EyeTV, Recording, Streaming

    The only reason I will pass on the Apple TV is my lack of a nice widescreen HDTV. I currently record about 20 hours of TV a week using an EyeTV Hybrid and would like to stream this to the living room along with my tunes and my home movies. When the time comes to get a new TV I may get an Apple TV to go with it. Now if I could find time to watch even 4 hours of TV a week I would be happy.
    Zoraster
  • As for getting things for Free being the reason

    iTunes Music store is doing a heck of good business. And a lot of people including me take our CD's we bought and convert them for use on our iPod, this is not stealing. However since the Movie industry doesnt like the idea of allowing DVD's to be put on portable players like the iPod, they are missing out on Sales and promoting piracy.
    mrlinux
  • Product is severely lacking

    Good column, you really hit the nail on the head. The iTV would be a useful product, if it came with a tv tuner and a built-in DVR. As it is, you're now paying $300 for the ability to send your iTunes purchases over to your tv. That doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

    They either need to lower the price (maybe to around $99) or make it a full-blown and useful device. As is, you have to spend too much on other components to make it useful.
    tic swayback
    • It has that capability in the hardware, the software's the issue

      People will probably hack it do do all you want like non-DRM DVR and DiVX playback. The Apple reps at Mac World hinted there were "workarounds" that they didn't officially support.

      The biggest problem with the Apple TV is the 720P resolution though it could still look very good on a nice high-end LCD monitor at true 1280x720 resolution. I have no doubt that we'll either be able to load MythTV with generic Linux or someone will come up with a special Linux distro for the Apple TV. Heck, I might even throw Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 on their or just WinXP with some third party tuner software.

      We're hoping to get the Apple TV next week and after we do the tear down gallery, I'll get my hands on it and start hacking it. Stay tuned.
      georgeou
      • Looking forward to your article

        I'm still not thrilled with dropping $300 on something I'd have to hack to make useful.
        tic swayback
        • I'm arguing for Apple and Tic is arguing against Apple, LOL.

          Ah but it would cost you $600 to build if you had to buy the parts separately. This device has economy of scale. I know people can hack the XBOX as well to do a lot of things, but that device is a 480p output device which is only good for standard definition. The XBox360 is probably still in a better position because that device only costs $60 and can do a whole lot more like gaming and 1080i output. The problem for the XBox360 is that it's such specialized hardware that you can't run generic x86 stuff on it.

          Note the humor in this debate that I'm arguing for Apple and Tic is arguing against Apple, LOL.
          georgeou
          • Nice change of pace

            Perhaps neither of us is quite the zealot as the other thinks...

            I do agree with you on the 360--for the price, you're getting a heck of a lot more than you get with the AppleTV. I think it's a product that one day could morph into something useful, but isn't there yet, and there's no reason to buy one at the moment.
            tic swayback
          • The 360 will be a threat to HDTV set top market

            The 360 will be a threat to HDTV IPTV set top market. They already showed that capability at CES. You can also hack it to play just about any kind of file you want.
            georgeou
  • Why I want Apple TV

    It's pretty simple. I have a nice home theatre system and a lot of good music on iTunes that I'd like to play through the house. It's cheaper than Apple's boom box. Also, there's the odd chance that I'll watch more of my video podcasts on the TV than on my Mac.

    Movies? Maybe now and then. I still have NetFlix, so that's not the driving reason.
    wbeem
    • Streaming music

      If you just want to stream music through your house, you're better off with a Squeezebox:
      http://www.slimdevices.com/

      The one limitation is that it won't play Apple DRMed (crippled) music. If you've got a lot of iTunes purchases, I pity you, but you can also use AirTunes from Apple with an Airport Express set up:
      http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/
      This will cost you $99 (and don't buy Apple's $39 stereo connection kit, you can get the cables much cheaper elsewhere).
      tic swayback
      • the big problem with squeeze box is.. no onscreen menu for picking songs...

        ...will never buy solutions like Squeezebox for that reason... these "solution" make it too hard to interact with your music.. not an option for me.. too limiting... same with airport express..

        airport express with salling clicker is not bad...
        doctorSpoc
        • Huh?

          My Squeezebox certainly has a display that I can use to browse music and pick songs.
          tic swayback
          • how many items can you see at at time.. 1... 2...

            that's not like selecting them in iTunes... or on appleTV... you have this little, tiny "thing" that sits on top of your stereo.. it BS.. plus let's see your squeeze box do video? NOT... plus isn't that thing $299 for the cheap one.. without video... that sounds like a deal.. NOT!
            doctorSpoc
          • What, you can't handle scrolling?

            Well, you can always control the Squeezebox through the web interface on any computer, works much like iTunes. And the audio quality is vastly better than anything Apple offers for similar products.

            ---plus isn't that thing $299 for the cheap one.. without video... that sounds like a deal---

            Again, you're paying for high quality audio. As I've said elsewhere, if you can accept Apple's poor quality, save yourself $200 and get AirTunes.
            tic swayback
          • maybe a cheap

            FM transmitter. Do you really buy a "squeezebox" (logitech) for each room with a stereo? <br>
            I feel like I just walked into a blog with a cover charge. I feel so low and dirty.
            xuniL_z
          • I only own 2

            I have a stereo downstairs and one upstairs. A cheap FM transmitter doesn't really give you much by way of quality. To me, buying the Squeezebox (both bought before the company was acquired by Logitech) was a consideration along the lines of buying good speakers or a high quality amp. You get what you pay for, and music is important enough to me to invest in quality equipment.

            I'm less interested in video, which probably explains some of my ambivalence towards the AppleTV.
            tic swayback
          • Let me understand

            you dropped 5 bills and a subscription for the Squeezebox deal? How often do you need to listen to the same music in both rooms transmitted digitally? Sounds like a luxury beyond description. Why can't you simply put a CD into the stereo?
            Your ambivilence toward video allows a mindset of using DVDs off the shelf, but for music you need your music broadcast digitally just for one extra room?
            What happened to the process of the zerostat, cloth, fluid and beyond rich sound?
            xuniL_z
          • No subscription needed

            ---you dropped 5 bills and a subscription for the Squeezebox deal?---

            Not sure you understand what a Squeezebox is. There's no subscription required.

            ---How often do you need to listen to the same music in both rooms transmitted digitally?---

            All the time. My house is a split ranch, with an upstairs and a downstairs living room. When I have a party, people are scattered throughout the house. Sometimes I want to hear music downstairs without disturbing my wife upstairs, and vice versa. At the time, there was no way to do this with the cheaper Apple AirTunes, the only other option I could find was the Sonos system at 3 times the price. I cheaped out by getting the squeezeboxes.

            ---Why can't you simply put a CD into the stereo?---

            Because the same music wouldn't be playing both upstairs and downstairs at the same time. Because I would have had to buy a second cd player. Because through iTunes I can set up a 6 or 7 hour playlist, rather than burning multiple cds.

            ---Your ambivilence toward video allows a mindset of using DVDs off the shelf, but for music you need your music broadcast digitally just for one extra room?---

            Yes, because listening to music is different than watching video. Do you often start a movie in one room, then want to watch part of it in another room, then move back to the first room? Do you often shuffle scenes from lots of different movies when you're watching?

            ---What happened to the process of the zerostat, cloth, fluid and beyond rich sound?---

            Ah the good old days. Tough to play in your car though.
            tic swayback
          • It sound like a subscription package

            on their site with X number of songs free...i didn't read it that closely and i didn't know anything about this company or product. <br>
            I wouldn't know about split level living and kids keep the parties to a minimum. <br>
            As a matter of fact I do watch the same video from room to room. We have a small ranch and I'm often watching between the bedroom/ crammed office and the living room. There are many occasions I go back and forth for many reasons.
            xuniL_z
          • That's kind of a side deal

            As far as I know, they have some collaboration with Rhapsody, because they're one of the few online music sellers willing to let others use their DRM. Regardless, it is not required to use the device (kind of like buying a Zune but not having to buy music from Microsoft's store).

            And if you really hop from room to room when watching television, perhaps the AppleTV is more valuable to you then it is to me and you should consider purchasing one.
            tic swayback