2007 may be a watershed year of change for Apple computer and the technology industry.
The first major product launch of the year was not Microsoft’s Vista. That long-awaited product was met with mixed emotions: dirision or yawns.
Meanwhile, as anticipation for the iPhone and Mac OS X Leopard increases, Apple released an unexpected storm cloud called AppleTV.
Unless you’ve been lost on a deserted island this week, or prepping for a wedding, you’ve heard or read something about AppleTV; the easy way to connect media on your Mac or PC to your TV.
AppleTV is a unique device which lets you play music, movies, TV shows, pretty much whatever shows up in iTunes, Mac or Windows, on a modern television.
Nearly every report, and there are dozens from which to choose, say the same thing; it’s easy, it works, it’s fun, I want more.
Even Rob Enderle has trekked from the dark sides to proclaim AppleTV as “attractive, well packaged” but then falls all over himself describing potential “interoperability problems” with “home servers and home NAS devices”, as if there are plenty of those in the market these days.
The always entertaining David Pogue produced a great video for The New York Times Online which described the benefits of AppleTV.
PC Magazine is drinking Kool-Aid for a change, and gives AppleTV four out of five stars, calling it a “pleasant experience.” Former Microsoft technical evenagelist, Robert Scoble, bought one, tried it out and declared, “AppleTV rocks.”
How much do AppleTV users love their AppleTV? G4’s Attack of the Show host Olivian Munn loves it so much she licked it on TV. Nothing says “hot” like a licking from Olivia, right?
CNET calls AppleTV’s “streaming performance as excellent,” and called it “essentially a stationary, networked iPod that lets you enjoy all of your iTunes digital media in your living room.”
I like that definition. AppleTV is, more or less, a wireless, networked iPod that connects to your television. Technology retailer (washers and dryers are “technology”, right?) Best Buy thinks enough of AppleTV to sell the new device in their 822 US stores.
For the most part, everyone who’s tried AppleTV seems to like it. Well, maybe not Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge who found 10 reasons why you don’t need AppleTV.
Apple gave us some AppleTV details back at Macworld 2007 in January. With AppleTV’s launch they gave us more details. So did Gizmodo and others. For example, AppleTV connects directly to the internet. That opens up some future possibilities, if not probabilities.
We also found out that AppleTV does not require a new widescreen TV or even HD TV. It works fine with standard TVs. Sort of. You need a TV with component video connectors, vs. composite connectors, which are more prevalent on older TVs.
As to the impact that AppleTV will have in the media marketplace, the jury will deliberate for a year or two or three. In the meantime, Apple will sell a few million AppleTVs to both Mac and Windows users.
Apple’s iTunes Store will continue to outsell all competition online for TV shows, movies, and, of course, music. Well before the end of 2007, the glaring hole in the feature set will be filled by the DVR, digital video recorder, which will be available in matching size for Mac and Windows users.
Most technology pundits expect Apple to incorporate iTunes Store purchases within the AppleTV interface using your master Mac or Windows account, so you can buy, perhaps even rent, movies directly from your TV screen.
Will all of this change the face of how we watch TV, change the face of the broadcasting and movie industries? Yes, but not overnight, and certainly not a replacement for the decades old status quo.
After all, it’s been almost six years since the iPod debuted, barely four years since the iTunes Store opened, and just three years since Windows users opened their pocketbooks, wallets, and credit card balances for Apple products.
Just as it was with the iPod, so it will be with AppleTV; a steadily growing, inexorable march toward change—how we manage, store, and view our media, whether music, TV, or movies, or whatever.
Apple will give us more of what we want, but in exchange, and in ever growing numbers, we’ll put an Apple in our pockets, on our laps, and in the living room. The storms of change have arrived.