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  • Why Apple or Anyone Needs to Disrupt the Boring World of TV Technology

    Internet connected televisions suck. No two ways around it. Their interfaces are slow, poorly designed and hampered by allegiances to the antiquated satellite and cable television industries.

    Today The New York Times published an article exploring the lack of television applications, let alone well made ones. While there are number of companies attempting to fill the void like Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and others, they still are beholden to the networks, studios, and cable providers. Apps like ESPN 360 on the Xbox 360, and the different sports league apps on set-top boxes, mimic their cable counterparts, and often act as complements to traditional TV viewing instead of stand-alone solutions.

    The NYT interviewed numerous network execs that realize the future of television will be based in app-like environment. However, most of these execs offered their views under the safety of anonymity fearing their comments would disturb their cable and satellite partners. The a la carte future many describe, where the consumer chooses what channels or apps they want to pay for instead of purchasing bundles, won’t be met without resistance from both network executives and consumers according to analysts.

    “But many analysts caution against predicting the near-term demise of cable and satellite delivery, pointing out that the spending and viewing habits of consumers are also firmly entrenched.

    “The model we have is the model we have, and while it’s tempting to imagine an app for TNT and an app for ESPN, that’s not the likely outcome,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. À la carte apps might seem like a bright idea, Mr. Moffett said, but it is unlikely consumers would pay $20 a month for individual channels when the traditional cable bundle provides a bargain price.” — NYT
    While this is a great point that any disruptive technology is usually meant with resistance, the executives fail to envision a truly revolutionary model for content consumption. The current business models prevent innovation in the television experience. Tablets and smartphones have changed the way we consume content and interact with our mobile devices. The remote control, and cable television user interface feels ancient by comparison.

    Even if consumers and content suppliers are satisfied with current “business” models, the way content is delivered and interacted with needs improvement. Television technology itself has been on a race to the bottom price wise for the last 10 years. Every single innovation has been along the lines of image quality, and appearance (thinness and screen size) of television sets. There hasn’t been a single television maker to release a television set with an SDK, or capabilities outside of support for a few apps at the manufacturer’s discretion. Consumers don’t get excited over 1080p, LED, LCD, True Motion, OLED, or any other tech-marketing buzzword any more. The anti-success of 3D solidified that.

    This is where Apple’s entry into the television arena could propagate a fundamental shift within the industry. Apple has the operating system, dedicated following, and most importantly money to produce televisions that change the way viewers interact and consume their content. Apple doesn’t need to upend the industry in one fell swoop by changing the way consumers pay for the content, thus changing the way distributors make money. The movie studios, cable providers, and satellite providers are a completely different beast than the recording industry. All apple needs to do is change consumers expectations of what the viewing experience should entail.

    Why hasn’t there been a television that allows users to simultaneously look up IMDB information watching a movie? Why can't I look at a Rotten Tomatoes score and reviews while scrolling through the viewing guide? Why is the remote control still a remote control? Sony tried to have live-chats with Blu-ray and make the viewing experience more interactive, but the implementation was clunky and all but abandoned by studios and consumers. In an networked society that is obsessed with social tech why is the television viewing experience anything but? Sony again tried it with their PSN home, but not enough people own PS3’s, and who wants to go to a virtual movie theatre, this isn’t Second Life.

    Television operating systems need to exist. But, the cable providers, and satellite providers want control over the viewing experience, even if it’s detrimental to their bottom line. There are a ton of technical hurdles, and the implementation would be rough no question, but there is so much information broadcast to our television sets and hardly any of it is utilized in a truly engaging fashion. You can’t tell me that the service providers have the best ideas on how consumers should interact with and consume content.

    Open up set-top boxes like Roku, and Apple TV, and OS-based television sets (if they ever exist) to developers. The executives can still distribute the content, but let developers do what they do best when given a new medium with which to play.

    Hopefully Apple or someone does something to change consumer expectations and forces the rest of the industry to reevaluate what television should be.

    Source: NYT
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Why Apple or Anyone Needs to Disrupt the Boring World of TV Technology started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. natedog102's Avatar
      natedog102 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stray View Post
      Samsung just released something that does that. So Apple wouldn't be the first.
      Expand on this, what do they have? Not being a ****, I'm honestly curious.
    1. bass264's Avatar
      bass264 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mofolo View Post
      Apple have never innovated. They simply get existing technologies, wait until they're good enough, or develop them till they're good enough, then refine the software and drivers that use the technology.
      They are, by no means, innovators.
      Ignorance at its finest
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      No, we wouldn't pay $20 per month per channel. The price should probably be between $2-$3 per channel per month, especially given the amount of advertising on these channels. And that is on the high end, for the best of the best, Disney Channel, HBO, Cinemax, etc.

      Channels that are watched less frequently should probably be $0.99 or less per month. The reality is that cable charges too much for a lot of junk that you don't want.

      Better still, if these options were on Hulu or Netflix, then I would be fine with that and I could watch on my schedule, not theirs. Some of them already are, but it would be nice to have more of them.

      If I were to get cable, etc. all that I would want from it is: History Channel, Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV and Animal Planet. The rest that I want can already be obtained on Roku, Hulu Plus, Netflix and/or Over the Air Television with nothing more than a pair of rabbit ears.

      If I combine my Hulu Plus and Netflix subscriptions, my T.V. costs us about $15 per month. The cheapest Cable/Satellite solution here runs about $50 per month. For those keeping up, that means a savings of about $420 per year.
    1. NSXrebel's Avatar
      NSXrebel -
      I too would only pay for the very few channels I watch. History Channel, Food Network, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TLC, Comedy Central, and to a less extent, Speed TV aka NASCRAP TV, but only for Formula1 and MotoGP. In fact, I would rather have a dedicated channel/app from FIA/FIM for F1 and MotoGP.

      Just about everything else on TV is crap. I don't watch any "reality" shows, and I LOATHE MTV for starting it all! Right now, I don't pay for cable, and haven't done so in a long while. It's just not worth it. Any tv shows that I miss/want to watch, I'll just go to Hulu, Youtube, or just download torrents.
    1. vantheman169's Avatar
      vantheman169 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sharpjunkie View Post
      Your comment isn't very innovative, anyways, I would like to see an 80-100 inch screen as thin as paper that I can roll up like a poster and throw in the back of my car and take it to my friends house then unroll it and tack it to the wall. I'd rather have a display do one thing, display. I would rather buy external devices such as an apple tv or roku. I will never understand gimmicks like waving your arms or talking to a tv, what's the point? Rather develop eye sensing tech like Steven Hawkings uses to change channels.
      That would be AWESOME check this out. I think this is what you have in mind. ME TOO!