Friday, May 02, 2008

Apple TV and YouTube challenge the norm

Years ago I sat in while a journalist interviewed Bill Gates. A PC was on the desk with Windows running. In most of the windows there were Microsoft applications but in one there was a TV show. I was spell bound. It was like I was watching TV for the first time. My awe struck state came crashing to earth moments later when Bill said: "We've finally been able to turn a $3000 machine into a $200 TV set." His point was clear. Who really needed to have a window on their computer that could show TV channels when in most homes there was already a device that did it much better at a much lower price.

This of course was before the Internet took off and people decided they liked to spend a good portion of their previously allocated TV time surfing the Internet. Web based TV has been very slow in coming but thanks to YouTube efforts to bridge the gap between web surfer and TV watcher seem to be gaining pace. Enter the latest version of Apple TV which, along with all your iTunes and iPhoto content, has a YouTube option that allows you to search and select your favorite content. In effect this turns YouTube into another channel on your TV. Right now most of the content on YouTube is pretty grainy making it a poor relation in the channel stakes. My guess is that this will change. But it also occurs to me that if Apple can effectively turn YouTube into a TV channel, couldn't they also become a natural home for a host of other channels? I'm pretty sure someone could come up with an Internet alternative TV network. One that uses the functionality of the web as well as its obvious distribution benefits. How long before there is an Apple TV Guide?

13 comments:

Hamish said...

Apple TV is one way to go, but Media PCs are getting so cheap now compared with a big screen TV that it makes sense to buy a dedicated box for about $500 and connect it to your TV by HDMI cable. I've done just that, and we watch more and more TV delivered by internet as a result. Most of the network stations have excellent catch-up sites where you can watch their series when you choose without the need for a Comcast subscription or a DVR. Then there's iTunes and Amazon to name just two of the TV / movie rental and purchase sites. A universal remote like Logitech Harmony can be used to drive a Media PC too. Apple TV is a nice, user friendly box, but you don't need it if you simply attach a dedicated PC to your TV. True, more expensive at the outset, but it delivers much more content and flexibility. One of these days, I might just cancel the satellite subscription ...

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