After Hours

Apple Talk: When will Jobs turn on Apple TV?

Apple's take on the ultimate commodity - television - could yet be very potent…

A more fully realised Apple TV concept could draw on lessons from the way Apple is marketing the iPad

A more fully realised Apple TV concept could draw on lessons from Apple's marketing of the iPadPhoto: Donald Bell/CNET February's annual shareholder meeting that the massive North Carolina datacentre was nearly ready for launch and would host iTunes and MobileMe services.

A step further would be to integrate the Apple TV function into an Apple-branded television set.

I was in a Curry's storeroom on the weekend, browsing among the vast number of televisions and was struck by one thing - they all look the same, just like tablet computers.

It's largely a medium defined by technical specs - 1080p, HDMi and 3D, for example. There's nothing compelling about them if you don't care about tech specs, and who does these days?

There's little I see that differentiates what these things can do based on user experience. It's a commodity-driven business with a handful of leading vendors, including LG, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. And they all look the same in the shop, especially in the store when they are all playing the same content.

You only have to look at the way Apple is marketing the iPad to understand the potential of a more fully realised Apple TV concept.

Functionality rather than features

One of the things Apple got so right with the iPad was focusing on communicating what the device could do and not even mentioning the technical specifications. You can choose different storage options and 3G or wi-fi and that's about it.

Apple already has a content ecosystem, credit card details, experience of streaming media, a massive datacentre waiting to do something, good relationships with media companies, a background in developing large-body, high-quality computers with flat-screen displays and a history of making mega component deals.

What is the likelihood of an Apple television set? I'm not holding my breath for an imminent launch but it's an intriguing possibility if the cloud-based iTunes model does indeed herald in a new age of media consumption.

Further, as the content ecosystem expands to include more studios and more media types, including apps, then it's tempting to look at the possible convergence of Apple TV, iTunes and an integrated consumer television, just as I expect the iOS and Mac OS X platforms to come closer together at the Worldwide Developer Conference in early June.

An Apple TV in every living room. As potent a sales slogan as "a computer on every desk and in every home".

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