When we think of Apple products, we think of the iPhone, the iPod and the range of Macs that Apple has on offer. An Apple product that doesn't spring to mind is the Apple TV. Did this product flop? And if so, why?
I think that the Apple TV was an interesting idea. A sort of media command center that sits in your living room and connects your TV directly to iTunes. The idea itself sounds like a winner because it makes buying digital content for in-home (and in particular, in-living-room) consumption a snap. Since people are devouring iTunes content on their Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPod touch devices, it's a logical to assume that people would enjoy doing the same from their TVs too.
This doesn't seem to be the case. While Apple TV has enjoyed limited success, it's not the runaway success that we've come to expect from Apple. Apple TV was more of a Newton than an iPod. A flop? Depends on your definition, but it's no iPod for sure, and neither is it a DVD killer. So what went wrong?
I think it's down to consumers being more confident in buying a computer than they are a bit of kit (like Apple TV, which is a media receiver) than they don't really know what it is. A computer is a known entity to most consumers (how little or much they know varies, but that doesn't matter), but the idea of hooking up something up to a TV and having that connect up to the web is full of unknowns.
I've talked to a number of people who have expressed an interest in getting an Apple TV but most seem put off because they don't really understand what it is and how they set it up (which is odd, because it's really easy to set up). It seems that people fear that the device will be much harder and more complicated to set up than a PC or a games console.
Another issue is that people are still getting used to having games consoles in their living rooms. If you've already got a games console, getting everyone on board with the idea of adding another glowing box to the mix can take a fair bit of persuasion.
I think that the Apple TV device is an interesting idea, and one that's workable, I just think that it came too soon. Technologies such as 802.11n WiFi and even USB 3.0 will make downloading and transferring content to such devices quicker and easier (wireless HDMI would be better still, eliminating all cables but the power cord). SSDs will make such a device quieter and cooler, and of course, these devices will get smaller and smaller. Another feature that would help boost adaption would be games. Given Apple's close relationship with games studios when it comes to iPhone development, I'm surprised that we've not seen Apple TV become a gaming device.
That said, given the success of the iPhone, the continued success of the iPod and macs, and the likely release of a tablet sometime soon, Apple is unlikely to pull the plug on the Apple TV any time soon. Just be away that it's also not likely to do anything revolutionary with it either.