Apple claims “The future of television is here” with an obvious nod to Apple TV. Let’s call that claim what it is. Rubbish. Or, marketing hype. You choose. Same thing. Apple TV is not yet the future of television.
What’s wrong with Apple TV? More on that in a moment. What’s right with Apple TV is obvious. Apps. Apps as channels. Games as apps. Video as apps. Most of us don’t mind applications because we’re so used to apps on the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even Watch. App management is a royal pain and Apple doesn’t make it easier, but there are a few things Apple TV is missing that are not made up with a selection of thousands of apps.
It’s The Input, Stupid
The way television works is rather straightforward. Each TV has multiple source inputs. For example, cable TV’s coaxial cable usually goes into Input 1, while everything else goes into #2 or #3 or whatever (DVDs, Apple TV, etc.).
See the problem? Whatever television source that gets Input 1– usually the cable TV’s coaxial cable– is what gets used the most. Anything else is secondary, and that means Apple TV. Instead of making it easier to watch television, Apple TV remains a device that is bolted onto the TV’s input, and requires users to jump through hoops to view.
Hoops? Steps. First, grab the TV’s remote, then switch the television input. Second, grab Apple TV’s remote, turn it on, wait, then rummage around the various categories and apps to find something you might want to watch. The steps are numerous and vary a bit depending upon which app you chose.
Compare that to the hoops the cable TV company provides when the cable is connected to Input #1. Grab the remote, turn on the TV, select the program guide, find something you like, click and you’re there. Apple TV adds more steps to the basic process. That’s not the future of television.
Apple needs to find a way to move Apple TV to the first choice– Input #1, if you will– and the only ways to do that are simple to list (but apparently not possible for Apple, despite $200-billion in the bank; Apple TV doesn’t compete well against Roku or SlingTV).
- Network TV Content – Apple TV needs a few streaming television network bundles to compete with cable TV, including local TV stations.
- 4k Video – While cable TV isn’t loaded with television programs in 4k, the rest of the internet is; from Netflix to Amazon and many in between. Apple TV? No.
- Apple TV Price – Apple cannot just provide channels as apps and expect to compete with services that offer a richer variety in higher quality. Apple TV is the most expensive device but does the least for the money.
- Bundles & Packages – Channels as apps is a good idea, despite the app management issue. Single sign-on is a good idea but if I’m already using a cable TV provider why do I need Apple TV? Apps. And single-sign on means less need to switch back to the cable TV input. Apple must provide more streaming bundles and TV packages to prevent users from switching inputs.
Despite a few thousand apps and the channels as apps option, Apple TV remains stuck on Input #2 for most viewers and users, when it really needs to compete on enough features and content selection to become the first choice for Input #1. When that happens; when Apple provides streaming content that can compete with cable TV, then we might see Apple TV as the future of television, but available now.