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back to article Apple TV: Third time unlucky, Mr Jobs

This is the day that Apple lost the war for Over The Top content, not only in America, but globally. The winner can’t yet be announced, but this was the shot that Apple had to get it right, and to us it’s bungled it. We got the same story from Apple, Amazon and Sony all at the same time and a similar one from Google. And while …

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Happy

Google needs to Buy NetFlix

Seems like an obvious pairing. Movies on NetFlix with trailers on YouTube.

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External Boxes

Eventually, there will be no need for external boxes as all the functionality will be built directly into each TV. So even less of a need for Apple TV.

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Apple inside?

Good point - Freeview boxes are an excellent example of external functionality that has eventually been incorporated into the TV itself.

However, that doesn't stop set-top boxes being sold for various purposes - just look at Tesco selling their Freeview HD boxes for £70.

In any case, by the time "eventually" comes around, all the functionality of the Apple TV will be integrated into the TV itself?

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No more box for me

I gave away my WDTV box, which was great, when I purchased a new TV. Just no need to a box at all now.

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Think different

You say “The Apple TV offering requires that you actually have a TV or another device to stream the video to in order to watch it, whereas any device with a screen, such as the iPad, would have been the logical and ideal client for this directly, without it going through the Apple TV.”

Is that right? Apple says that (with AirPlay) “Just tap to start playing content on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then tap again to instantly stream whatever you’re watching — or listening to — directly to Apple TV.” (http://www.apple.com/appletv/#remote)

This detail matters because of the bigger picture. Endless companies have tried to reinvent the TV but only Apple has an installed base of handheld devices with screens. The question for Apple TV is not the scope of the initial content distribution deals but how will they exploit this asset and whether it will make a difference.

With every other company, once the set top box is sorted we have a discussion about the remote: wand, buttons, mouse, magic pad, touch screen, voice, waving or whatever. With Apple, the remote IS the device that matters – the set top box arguably exists purely to mirror what’s in the user’s hand – iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. All these already have access to the internet… so there is no shortage of content. It’s just a commercial decision about how Apple can exploit this.

Apple could limit the resolution of content played outside iTunes but I doubt they’ll bother. They want the critical mass of users. Instead, over time, iTunes’s established billing system and being featured on iTunes suggested playlists (aka TV channels) will be enough of a draw for anyone with video to sell.

Everyone’s talked about making TV smarter. The genius of Apple’s approach is that it keeps TV dumb – it’s just a monitor. The smarts are in your hand.

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nice

@philipc

I have to say out of all of the pro apple posts I think this is the best one I have read thus far.

One thing I will come back with is why didn't Apple move iTunes to the cloud. Surely this move would appease the film/ movie studios as there is no physically downloaded content client side. This way @ $.99 per episode I could feasibly 'own' the show within my iTunes ID and use it on any Apple device and have my Apple TV set top box display that content on my TV. If Google was smart this is the style in which they would model their service on. Again as a potential client if I have one ID with multiple services linked to it I prefer that option. I could watch all of my paid TV and film content, check my e-mail and make a phone call all in one place...I'd say that's a pretty powerful option.

I think by moving these downloaded items into the could and Google already has their streaming service established. The studios are happy and the consumer will also be happy.

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FAIL

Think Different??? Clearly not at all!!!

"Endless companies have tried to reinvent the TV but only Apple has an installed base of handheld devices with screens."

Really .... only Apple? Is it dark, muffled and reassuringly warm where your head is? Smell even a little ... or do you use Apple blossom scented air freshener? Remember to take your handheld device in with you so you can watch your Apple TV ... personally I'll watch my paid content on my large screen telly using a dedicated remote that lives where it is and not have to be attached at the hip to my 'handheld' device to watch telly!

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Ditto

Couldn't agree more, integration is easy to make my iPhone a remote control, etc. And unlike Android, Apple can guarantee a consistent experience.

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Really .... only Apple?

Sorry, amidst the adolescent vitriol I missed you telling us which other company has an installed base of handheld devices with screens. That, for the hard of thinking, was the point of my post. It is Apple's differentiator and so one would expect their strategy to take advantage of it.

If we want a complete internet experience on the TV we're going to need more than a dedicated remote. But it sounds like you're happy with ITV or FOX or whatever.

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WTF?

@philipc ... education time ...

Firstly, let me apologise for my adolescent vitriol ... normally I only post in one of those modes and not combined ... especially rude of me seeing that that was your first post ...

Please take a look at the link below and then tell me if Apple is still the 'only company with an installed base of handheld devices with screens'???? ... Or if you really believe THEIR devices are still a differentiator when some of those players actually sell TV's too and in some cases control huge amounts of the content (Sony?) ... in a Rosy Red (err White) Apple tinged world maybe ... but in this world currently ... NO!

http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/12/gartner-and-idc-agree-the-android-invasions-accelerating-aroun/

Reg article was spot on ... Apple had a chance and failed ... actually I think Apple spent little time and R&D to get this new device out there: both to keep the SP from tumbling (have to satisfy rumours and expectations) and to reap the rewards of knowing that regardless of what it did a certain X million 'fans' would just buy any new device anyway so it had nothing to lose with this. If there is any longer term plan in this for Apple, then this is an interim step or a diversion.

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FAIL

Better how?

Not one of these options offers a better alternative to torrents (as pointed out some are worse than DVDs). Why would someone pay for the hardware, subscription, and additional rental fees? Convenience? Speed? IT'S THE LAW!?!?!?

Until they actually provide a good reason for people to cough up money for something that costs next to nothing to distribute, then they're not gonna gain mass uptake. Sure downloading, converting, transferring from PC is slightly less convenient, but compare it to the value being offered here and it's a no-brainer.

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Anonymous Coward

title

'downloading, converting, transferring from PC is slightly less convenient...'

And that's the kicker. When I want to watch a film, I want to sit on my sofa with a can of cider, idly click through a list, and go. I'll happily pay a few pounds for the privilege.

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indeed

the amount of scripts that are available for XBMC can make this a reality. It is quite possible to stream an avi or mkv from the net as it is downloading.

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Jobs Horns

New-v-Old AppleTV

You can already rent movies from Apple in the UK, from the AppleTV.

The old AppleTV also *already* has Ethernet, WiFi & HDMI. But it also has component video and audio (including optical) outs.

The new AppleTV is more like an AppleTV Nano - smaller form factor, smaller capacity, less functionality - particularly in the UK where you won't be able to rent streamed movies.

Luckily, the new AppleTV won't kill the ability to buy TV/movies from the old one.

Not that streaming movies will really work for most people - the machine must have a little local storage (4GB Flash is my bet) for caching to enable smooth playback, but unless you're on a superfast connection, you'll be waiting a loooooong time to be able to play that HD movie.

For new AppleTV owners (I have 2 of the old ones), sorry guys, sucks to be you. Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?

Seriously Steve - did you *really* talk to AppleTV owners before launching this thing?

At least the return of the iPod Shuffle to a sane form factor shows some degree of willingness to step back from mistakes.

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Buy 'IceAge' on another device

"Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?"

Just buy it on iTunes, and stream it from there, instead of renting again and again and again.

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Eh?

"The new AppleTV is more like an AppleTV Nano - smaller form factor, smaller capacity, less functionality - particularly in the UK where you won't be able to rent streamed movies."

The title of http://www.apple.com/uk/appletv/ says "Rent from the largest selection of HD movies..."

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Jobs Horns

Less useful

Sure, it's doable.

But a lot less useful than being able to buy on the device, and have it sync back to iTunes as *well* as being able to buy on iTunes.

Buy on AppleTV = much more immediate watching. Useful when you have 3 noisy wains demanding it.

As mentioned, this is a downgrade overall from the current experience. Fine if you're adding a lower model to the range, but not if you're phasing out the larger one too.

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HD movies to rent

In the UK you can only rent HD versions of movies and buy SD versions through iTunes. Question is why when TV series are available in HD. Must be something to do with the movie companies not wanting to release control. Guess it would be a handy thing to import movies from bluray discs...

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Buy it on iTunes, iff:

it's actually been made available in your country of residence, and in the language you want.

I'll start thinking about buying/renting films and TV shows off iTunes when they stop dictating I can only watch French TV and subtitled films.

Even access to music videos was policed last time I looked. Bah, humbug.

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Jobs Horns

1 meter might as well be a light year.

>> "Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your

>> kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?"

>

> Just buy it on iTunes, and stream it from there, instead of renting

> again and again and again.

Better still. Buy the spinny disk from Amazon and rip it.

Creating an intermediate step of any sort kind of defeats the point of an appliance like this.

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L.B
Unhappy

Local storage is a must for any of these devices...

The simple fact is a significant amount of the worlds would be users do not have anywhere near enough bandwidth to stream good quality SD content let along HD, and that is not going to change for many years.

Also most ISP's are increasingly limiting the amount that can be downloaded to a few GB a month before they start charging extra or severely limiting bandwidth. To make it even worse they mostly limit bandwidth at what is the peak viewing time for TV, which just happens to be the same peak time for Internet usage.

If you think the Internet is slow between 17:00 and 21:00 now, just imagine it with millions of people trying to stream HD TV via the same mechanism as well.

So a box where you can select your programming and have it downloaded once to local storage over night and/or while your at work for later viewing will be essential.

Personally the limited time permitted to view content is something that would make me avoid all of these current solutions. I must have a dozen or so films and TV series that I have recorded of Freeview/Sky (using my DVD recorder) just because they looked interesting. Sometimes I have not got around to watching them until months later. There are also few recording that I really liked, so I keep copies (on DVD+RW or just left on the hard-disk) to watched again sometime.

The competition with free/illegal downloaded materiel is also the curiosity factor, much of the content of TV and about 99% of Hollywood crap is that it is so dull and derivative. I sure there are millions of downloads where after watching only 10-15 minutes the viewer just deletes it thinking “I'm glad I didn't pay good money for that crap!”.

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SSR
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Uh?

The article states Apple TV has "bungled it", then goes on to compare it to a bunch of other offerings, saying it has a handful more features. Where is the purported bungle?

Ultimately the Apple TV is just an extension of the iPod/iTunes experience, which you either buy into or not. Your average geek is going to be able to obtain music elsewhere, but Joe Public loved the simplicity of the iPod welded to iTunes, which no other manufacturer offered (note again: the simplicity aspect).

There will be some percentage of Joe Public out there who will be happy to extend the iTunes experience to film/TV, and it remains to be seen long term how many will accept this. The US audience are, I suspect, far more advanced in this, helped by services such as Netflix (albeit not Apple TV specific).

El Reg regularly slates the Apple TV, but fails to actually present a strong argument as to why. The reason why it failed is pretty much covered above, that consumers just aren't that accepting of downloaded TV/film yet. But for those that are accepting of the move to download, the Apple TV is actually a really great device, with a lot more to offer e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Music streaming, Remote app integration.

From a non-Apple fanboi, with Windows PC etc. etc.

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Linux

Grandma already has a Wii.

> Ultimately the Apple TV is just an extension of the

> iPod/iTunes experience, which you either buy into

> or not. Your average geek is going to be able to obtain

> music elsewhere

At least in the US, everything being released these days can do Netflix streaming and other things like Amazon or YouTube. It's in the TVs, it's in the spinny disk players. It's in the game consoles.

You don't have to be a "geek" for an AppleTV to be redundant.

It's not like this is AppleTV vs. MythTV & MCE. This is AppleTV versus the entire rest of the consumer electronics industry.

Grandma already has a Netflix subscription and streams through the Wii.

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Jobs Halo

Never let facts...

...get in the way of a good schadenfreudefest!

If it's anti-Apple, facts don't matter;- sophistry rules.

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It's at least interesting

Thinking from purely my own use, we currently subscribe to Blockbuster. For £8/month we get four Blu-Rays or DVDs. The downside to this is that we have to watch a DVD, post it back and wait for another to arrive. Also, if we don't get through our four films in the month, we still pay £8. If we get through all four too soon we either have to wait or pay extra (£2.50 I think) before they will send another. Also, for popular releases, you might have to wait a few weeks for a film to become available.

So the AppleTv looks quite interesting. I don't have to wait. I don't have to choose the film we will watch well in advance. There is no chance of scratched discs spoiling our viewing (a constant problem - particularly with old films or childrens stuff). And all for only about £2 a month more. Given that we often don't get through all our films it would probably break out about even.

However, it is only 720p. Why? Is this because they are worried that the bandwidth isn't really there in most homes to reliably stream 1080p? That would certainly be my worry. It's bloody annoying having a scratched disc. Imagine paying £100 for the box, buying your film, sitting down with your popcorn and the film stutters and pauses all the way through whilst the streaming tries to catch up with itself.

But, as I say, it is interesting and the prices look about right. As long as the content is there. I suppose if I bought one from Amazon I would be able to return it within 28 days for a full refund if the streaming didn't work or the picture was horribly compressed.

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Unhappy

Just about right...

Thanks El Reg, for a really well thought out article.

I think it hits this just about on the nail. I'm an Apple TV customer and I shan't be racing out to buy one of the new boxes.

It seems to me that what's required - and is as far off as ever - is a single API that content providers deliver against. Unfortunately, whist that's totally logically and what consumers might want to see, who (and especially apple!) would want to commoditise their hardware like that.

So we'll continue with half baked solutions to OOT until one or other of the big players bleeds the others ot of the market and then we'll be all stuck with whichever the media giant with the deepest pockets chooses to offer us Who will that be? Whoever buys Netflix as far as I can see...

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I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro

Though I could have typed it on my iPhone or my iPad. In any case, I'd be typing the same: the new Apple TV is no tangible improvement over the old one and will not succeed. It fails to completely eliminate any single other box while not really improving on what those boxes already do. The Apple TV and iBooks (which are being outsold 60:1 by Kindle books, I hear) prove that there are areas in which Apple simply fails; they're nowhere near being the unstoppable media juggernaut that content producers and consumers fear.

The best feature of the Apple TVs? They prove that people don't just buy anything Apple put out.

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SSR

Streaming

My guess is that a lot of people will use the box to stream content from iTunes, whether music or video. So the issue of lacking local storage will not be a significant one - I never understood the need for local storage when I bought the earlier version. Of course if those who stream without iTunes are frustrated by delays then the device will fail, assuming they're not on slow Internet connections.

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Jobs Horns

Local Storage

Yes, mostly we stream from iTunes. But then, my iTunes-dedicated mac mini (with external Drobo) is on the same wired network as one AppleTV, and the other has the vast majority of the kids' movies on its local storage.

And I have an 801.11n wireless network to stream it over.

By far the better 'upgrade' for the new AppleTV would have been the ability to add an external disk directly. A Terabyte would do for most people for a while - that's the standard for DVRs these days.

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SSR

Home Network Storage

It's so trivial these days to add storage to the home network that I think they've made the right decision to keep it separate. Why add a box to the Apple TV when you can just add it on the network elsewhere?

There might be a few who have no other option, but Apple aren't going to be able to cope with every possibility in a commercial device.

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iPlayer

Until we get a set top box with BBC approved iPlayer functionality it's going to be a hard sell in the UK. iPlayer is used by millions of brits, and netflix is nothing over here. Not sure how the iPhone, iPod, iPad maker will feel about advertising AppleTV with iPlayer though.

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Jobs Horns

iPlayer +...

iPlayer. And LoveFilm. And SeeSaw (which is bluddy lovely).

Two of these are already built into the latest Samsung TVs - network capability is about ooh, the price of an AppleTV.

Having it all via a unified interface would have been lovely.

Such a missed opportunity.

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Completely agree

And add Project Canvas to that list.

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Go

Humax HD Freesat iPlayer

I have a Humax Freesat box and apparently iPlayer is available now through it..... I can't verify this as I don't have an ether net cable long enough to go from my router to the Humax-TV box.... I'm too lazy/dissinterested to move anything!!

But, iPlayer is available for free straight to your TV already!

[I wish it was available through my XBox360, that would be MUCH more convenient, instead of bloody Sky TV]

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@OrsonX

Cool. Where did you get the free Humax HD Freesat box? When I was looking for alternatives to Sky, they were about 300 quid (plus satelite and installation, if you don't have on already).

OTOH, The Apple TV is only 100 quid.

Personally, I don't think the new ATV is quite there yet (I have one of the originals, which I love!). I assume Apple will create an API and SDK for it at some point, at which point (as per the iPhone) things will really take off.

Oh, and I'd like to stream directly off a network disc (such as Air Disk or Time Machine, even if not a generic NAS), rather than needing my laptop booted up and running iTunes.

I think the most interesting element that was announced was AirPlay (and not just limited to the ATV). It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Other than that, I thought the article was crap. Slating the Apple TV, but offering no solutions. Praising other boxes that offer less, or are more troublesome to use, or do not integrate nicely with other kit people may have (iPhones, iPads, etc.). You really lost it when talking about the Kindle being perfect for video. Except for the small screen size; and the fact it's eInk with no video capable eInk on the horizon. Basically, to turn the Kindle into something remotely useful for video, you'd end up with an iPad.

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iPlayer

----

Until we get a set top box with BBC approved iPlayer functionality it's going to be a hard sell in the UK.

----

We've got one - it's called the Playstation 3.

Actually, we've got two - if you're on Virgin Media you can get iPlayer through their box.

I've got both *shrugs*

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Go

And the Wii....

iPlayer is also on the WII, though it isn't as good as over V+ anyway (though that's probably my WIFi network having interference, and the Wii being in a cupboard than anything else).

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Happy

@RichyS

No boxes are free, even Freeview one are ~£50

The box I have, Humax Freesat HD was £130 (Maplin) but I will conceed you do need a satallite dish...

...but presumably you do for Sky as well, and how much do they charge for installation?*

*go on, tell me its free!

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four

XBMC quite happily plays iplayer. The kids love "show me show me", they even have their own remote to move about inside iplayer.

Plus XBMC plays mkvs, dvds, m2ts, mp3's all from a lovely £100 zotac ion.

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Bronze badge
Happy

Thanks but

...I'll keep my £200 PS3 which plays (and records) Freeview, plays iPlayer, Blu-Ray, PS3 and PSX games, MP3, AAC, various video formats (including the HD video from my Panasonic camcorder). Best of all, it plas it all back in fabulous 1080P with beautiful PCM surround sound.

I wonder how good it'll be when SSDs get cheap enough to fit one to it?

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Netflix seems to be the winner (At least in the US)

Good analysis.

Netflix got their video streaming to the market first and they have the arrangements with the content providers, and as the bedrock internet video app everyone has to support them. I'm not interested in yet another version of pay-per-view.

I am looking right now to go over-the-top, mainly to cut off my monthly payments to Comcast, and I haven't found anything that appears to do everything. Boxee looks the most promising but seems to require a lot of horsepower. I would like the capability of streaming Netflix and Hulu, and off my home server for stuff I've bought, as well as some DVR capabilities. Still looking for the platform that checks all of those boxes (could it be Windows media center???)

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Thumb Up

Check out Tversity Pro

It costs a little vs the regular (free) version, but integrates with a number of online content providers and should work with XBox, PS3 and any DLNA compatible TV or media player.

I've been meaning to install and play around with it, but haven't had a chance to yet... so FWIW there you go.

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Speaking of curiosity...

If you spend $0.99 to watch a TV show, does it still have commercials?

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nope

No that's one of the advantages.

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Black Helicopters

Until...

Until they get greedy. They always do.

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Anonymous Coward

Talk among colleagues...

...laments the missing hard drive. One problem with the UK is that bandwidth is capped in a great deal of cases. Some offer all you can eat, but only overnight.

No hard disk and no timing restriction means it is impossible to use the TV box in the UK in such a way as to download material overnight ready for viewing later.

I don't think any of the Apple TV so far has had timing options. Mind you, I haven't got such a box myself. I prefer to buy DVDs 'cause of the adverts and cutting that happens.

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Slowly, slowly...

Having watched the presentation, I'm not sure that Apple was really intending aTV to be a revolutionary, game-changing, paradigm-shift.

It looks to me more that they realised that most people either store loads of media on big hard drives attached to their computers or find the whole thing a faff. Either way, making the aTV a streaming device makes more sense.

They also realised that taking out the HD and the need for lots of power meant it could be small and (relatively) cheap. Being able to stream stuff from yer iPhone/iPad is nice, too - at the moment, trying to show photos and videos on my plasma is a pain in the butt.

Yes, TVs are now integrating YouTube/iPlayer widgets - but from what I've seen they are slow as buggery and not exatly spontaneous.

So - even without the streaming downloads from iTunes - I'm still tempted by the little box, and I suspect that quite a lot of people with iPhone 4s will be too (wanting to show off their iMovies). If they can make inroads in accessing rented media as well, that's a bonus - and at present the market (in the UK anyway) is too fragmented for any clear winner to emerge.

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Sony internet tv

"Yes, TVs are now integrating YouTube/iPlayer widgets - but from what I've seen they are slow as buggery and not exatly spontaneous."

You should try one of the Sony blu ray players' 'internet tv' feature. Youtube and iplayer both work well, are quick and high quality. Totally surpassed my expectations of that added feature. It works much better than iplayer / youtube on my Wii.

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Badgers

It's Meh...

<<What this deal means is that content which can be viewed for nothing on TV, can be bought. And a 22 episode TV series will cost you more than the DVD, if you buy it one online rental at a time, a total of $22. And at the end of that you can’t watch it again, as you could with a DVD.>>

And even then, the "HD" will be poorer than DVD upscaled due to compression needed, never mind BluRay. Quality streaming on Demand (real VOD) isn't really possible on the Public Internet and not possible at all for nearly 50% of people not on fibre or cable. Their connection isn't good enough for other than Web TV quality.

It's a "me too" Streaming service for people more interested in instant access rather than waiting for Disc to come in post or going to Shop or than quality of picture.

The winning service will be one offering FREE streaming when you order the DVD/BluRay online.

For a long time to come most of the World won't have true ISP provided VOD, and only ISP provided VOD can be done economically at Broadcast quality, probably ever.

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we dont all live in backwaters

BE* will gladly let you download TB data at 24mg. I know because I do. In fact the official forum is happy to discuss this.

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