back to article Apple to conquer connected TVs? Steady on, lad

A very inward-looking report by Strategy Analytics, published last month, seems to ignore the entire Over the Top video market - and makes Apple an out-and-out winner with its $99 Apple TV device by taking 32 per cent of the Connected Home Device market in 2011. Let's just look at that. So Apple will win 32 per cent of the …

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Holmes

iSuppose

You forgot to factor in all the free publicity they'll get just by dint of being Apple. Free publicity which amounts to a continuous warning klaxon shouting "here comes Apple, all you other no marks might as well give up and take your crappy penny-floater balls home".

On the other hand: if/when it does become apparent that this whole project has not been quite the success those shrill headlines implied, the headlines stating so will be all the more obvious/shocking/fatal.

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FAIL

Good luck calling it iTV in the UK

I somehow doubt that Apple will get away with calling it "iTV" in the UK, since a certain national UK TV broadcaster might have something to say about that. Apart from naming issues, I think Apple will struggle in the UK - not only will whatever they launch in the UK cost at least pounds-to-dollars, any paid content will be hugely expensive and DRM'ed to the hilt too.

Prices of TVs and set-top boxes in the UK are fairly low - large LCD sets can be found for 300 quid or less and set-top boxes vary from 20 to 250 quid depending on their functionality (many of which are already wired or wireless and can do Net stuff). Apple would be entering quite a mature market, a large chunk of which don't pay anything above the equipment and the TV licence fee and never intend to either. Yep, that pesky licence fee is another dampener to any new entrant to the UK market that wants to charge for content. Apple will fail, IMHO, if they launch Apple TV in the UK - and YouView finally launches soon to do pretty well something similar to Apple TV don't forget (with a lot of free content I suspect too).

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Facepalm

Not iTV

This report is dubious at bestas pointed out in the article.

However, the only time iTV is mentioned is in your comment. It's called Apple TV. It seems only low rent reporters and commenters call it something it's not called.

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Two things..

Re: I somehow doubt that Apple will get away with calling it "iTV" in the UK,

I"ve seen no mention anywhere that Apple are considering calling it the iTV. The only time they coined that phrase was when they were developing the original Apple TV, and they dropped it way before release.

Re: Yep, that pesky licence fee is another dampener to any new entrant to the UK market that wants to charge for content.

I'm no legal expert, but the licence fee only applies if the device has the facility to view content as it is broadcast. This rumoured TV set may not include any access to live channels. After all, Apple want you to get your content from Apple or an approved supplier. They probably won't want you getting it from any unapproved broadcaster or website.

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license fee

I am not sure, but aren't service providers offering TV like services (live programmes and a scheduled broadcast) required to provide freeview channels free of charge? I know Virgin and sky are. Not sure about BT though.

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Actually my point..

I don't believe Apple will be offering live or scheduled channels, which is why I don't think the licence fee will apply..

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WTF?

"This rumoured TV set may not include any access to live channels"

I think they'd struggle to sell even the most dedicated Apple fanboi a TV that can't receive regular TV channels!

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"aren't service providers offering TV like services required to provide freeview channels free of charge?"

No, although I believe that Sky and Virgin are obliged to provide access to the UK's 5 main PSB channels (BBC1/2, ITV1, C4, C5) as part of their license.

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Silver badge

@Stuart Castle re TV licence

1: I believe there's work afoot on changing the legislation to close this live reception loophole. A loophole the licensing police tend to simply ignore anyway when issuing threats. To escape Apple TV could need to be so crippled its not worth using.

2: Any device incapable of showing live sport in the UK is an instant fail. More so after sport became almost unavailable on Freeview/Freesat and still the main driver of Sky sales.

Apple are too late and offer the wrong mix of content for our markets. Doesn't look like they're doing much better in the US either, where I believe Sport is still available on the TV most people have.

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Are you kidding?

"think they'd struggle to sell even the most dedicated Apple fanboi a TV that can't receive regular TV channels!"

Think of all the "I never watch television" snobs who can still feel all superior and claim that while bragging about how there's an app for their iPhone that acts as a remote for it.

They can claim they only use it to watch Bergman and Fellini or whoever.

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Silver badge

The original Apple TV was referred to as the iTV by journalists before it was launched. I'm sure Apple is well aware that ITV haas been around in Britain since Steve Jobs was 7 months old and presumably first announced before he was born.

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Rob
Bronze badge
Go

@Richard

You missed the other more obvious hurdles for Apple TV to get over, specifically the Xbox and PS3 which have good saturation in the UK and offer more than Apple TV does including playing fairly nicely with DNLA with home networking kit. Granted Xbox has just upped it's game by adding channel 4 and 5 catch up service along with iLovefilm and iPlayer apparently on its way later this year. In terms of value for money I would probably buy a console instead if I had to make a choice now.

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Apple TV

It's a very limited device, with almost zero openness. Walled garden references are actually applicable correctly for once.

If you use Apple/ipads and itunes/iphoto, it almost makes sense, but even then, the connectivity to your itunes library is only one way - if you purchase a video on Apple TV, you still need to re-download it on your itunes. Airplay is Apple-only, and frankly, I don't see the point. All the internet features (eg youtube) are now available directly from most modern TV's or set-top boxes (inc Blu-ray), so no value-add there either.

Until Apple & itunes gets with the program (specifically the DNLA program, for one, plays more media types another), this is a very limited device.

Hasn't stopped it selling out here (Germany/Swiss border) in all the main tech stores before Xmas. Twice.

Caveat: I got one as a present. I'm *this close* from punting it on ebay...but for now, it stays connected, so it must be doing something right. Or maybe it's still novel.

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Anonymous Coward

jailbreak

I am not a fan of jailbreak, but in this case you can jailbreak permanently since a couple of weeks it and make it connect nas etc. and play a lot of formats too. I use it to stream movies from itunes, which i import from other formats, youtube and video podcasts... I would love though to have lovefilm on it. I think apple is about to open it more, I heard something, so that you might have official apps on the apple tv as you have on iOS.

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Those limited functions and walled garden are almost certainly due to the studios not Apple's design. Apple have been battling the studios to get content onto the box since it was released. Remember the studio urinated away millions in the Bluray vs HDDVD battle and they want their pound of flesh back in markup.

There's no technical reason why all content shouldn't be HD but many films are still only available to purchase in SD quality. That's not Apple doing that.

The beauty of the new AppleTV is that it has effectively become a hub to connect your PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads to your TV. A function that I'm not letting the misses know otherwise she would insist on the new AppleTV commandeer the TV with her iPhone. What's the alpha male to do?

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Silver badge
Headmaster

Roku is a 'startup'?

They've been around for years - 2002 according to Wikipedia. I bought their SoundBridge some time in the mid 2000s.

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Welcome Apple getting involved with this arena

The set-top box thing is rubbish, no point having a nice shiny flat-screen if you then need a dozen ugly boxes to plug into it to view your content.

Currently only have an ATV plugged into my set as it's tiny enough to hide.

Also BluRay needs to die, sure the quality it nice enough but having to wait nearly 10 minutes before the film starts is beyond a joke, why it is deemed acceptable to have all those trailers and disclaimers and promos and all that other shit at the start? You wouldn't have 10 minutes of promos at the start of an album so why is it OK in front of a film?

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@Matthew17 - Crap on Blu-ray is skippable

I don't think I've seen a Blu-ray disc that forced the watching of the crap. The worst I've seen are Disney ones that require repeated skipping to get through the trailers but it is rare to need more than a few seconds. Disney is bad enough that it is a negative factor that I would consider in purchases.

If you are talking about general start up time then some players are pretty good these days. PS3 and 2010 Sony BDP-S570 anyway.

Are there any other legitimate sources with anything approaching the same quality as Blu-ray? (hint: resolution is only one factor. Low level of video compression and lossless surround audio are also important).

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handy trick

Try this trick (not sure it works on all BluRays but certainly does on DVDs)

Once the disk has started up and is playing (FBI warning and what-not) press the stop button twice then press play. This bypasses all the crap and launches the film straight away.

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@Joseph

Boot up time is a big factor, also my player isn't connected to the Internet so it sits for ages each time trying to connect to some nonsense on-line content which no-one on Earth could possibly want (anyway it's only available for 12 months so even if plugged in it'll be the same problem then.

I got 'Horrible Bosses' for Xmas, it sits for about 5 minutes just accessing the disc with a spinny logo before the thing starts, then it's disclaimers, piracy warnings which cannot be skipped, then the fucken trailers start, it won't let you go to the disc menu, you have to skip each trailer. Then the film eventually starts, however when it finishes and the menu comes up, you find that you watched the theatrical version and not the extended cut that the disc is supposed to be! What's the point of buying an extended cut edition to have it play the regular cut by default?

Incidentally I have the PS3 and S570 as you mention, the PS3, the latter is certainly quicker but I don't want a games machine in my living room.

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Silver badge

A dozen ugly boxes? Try one, and it's usually not ugly. Any reasonably decent BluRay player will do it all and most are asthetically well designed. Failing a decent BluRay player, you can add a wireless Roku that's just as tiny as an Apple TV.

As for BluRay needing to die, I don't know what BluRay player you're using, but I have no such trouble watching BluRays on my PS3.

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@Matthew17

Might be worth connecting or otherwise checking for software updates which might help the boot speed. I don't rule out there being particular problematic discs but I rent a lot from Lovefilm and very few are a truly toxic experience.

Depending on the country you are in and what services you have on other devices you might find that there is something worth watching there (disclaimer: I used to do Biz Dev for Sony getting partners onboard). Depending on your taste Muzu, Mubi, Youtube (now possibly with HD), iPlayer in the UK might have something for you in addition to the main Sony movie store (which after a connection test will start the video straight away).

Must remember to put Horrible Bosses in the machine 10 minutes before I want to watch it when Lovefilm send it. Thanks for the warning.

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And the studios wonder why there is Piracy?!

Anyway, I watched the Talladega Nights DVD that claimed to be an extended cut. I didn't see the Theatrical release, but I think I would have preferred it. There's a lot of funny stuff in Talladega Nights, but that extended cut seemed a bit loose and could have done with a bit of editing to tighten things up. And this from America, which, back before Hollywood even existed, cut all the flim-flam bits out of the French silent film comedies to increase audience appeal.

On a related note, I think Celtic Pride got me in a good mood by going straight to the main menu. The DVD of Seraphim Falls (and Black Sheep, both from Icon) got me in a bad mood by having unskippable trailers.

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Rob
Bronze badge

@Matthew17

Definately check for a firmware update, it's almost essential nowadays as Blu-ray is still not a settled format and a discs playability depends on it's producer. I found out recently my last firmware update for my BD player broke the auto update function, when I looked at the manufacturers support website I was well over a year behind. Downloaded to USB and plugged it in, updated it and now I feel like I have a new BD player, response and play disc times are dramatically improved and a few a discs I have that were being a bit stubborn now play flawlessly.

Also check your settings as I went into my mine awhile back and told it not to contact the internet for BD extra content which again also speeds up disc access time as it's refused straight away and doesn't bother even checking so gets on with playing the disc.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Woah!

Apple don't like anyone bringing out a new device with the same look and feel as their own - look at how they bullied weaker governments like Germany and Australia to stop Samsung selling black, rectangular touch screen pads with their jaw-droppingly stunning invention of round corners. Ok, sense prevailed in the end but what's this? Apple now want to move into the very market Samsung has dominated for the last decade? Boy, I'm sure looking forwards to seeing what devices they innovate which aren't large, thin, black, rectangular, remote controlled boxes for watching TV on.

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Anonymous Coward

Delusional

Apple bullied the weak Germans, ROTFLOL.

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Megaphone

What?

"bullied weaker governments like Germany"

Does your brain read what you type?

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Bet it's called SiriTV.

Anyway, hobby or not I love my 1st gen AppleTV.

@Richard Lloyd, Apple TV has been launched in the UK for years.

If Apple offer a good TV with voice control I'm sure there'll be plenty of takers who want to live the Minority Report dream. On a serious point, cable cutters are spreading in the States choosing connected devices over cable companies. We've ditched Sky for Freesat and use our AppleTV to buy TV series available on Sky. It works out cheaper than ponying up to murdoch each month for puerile content we don't watch. Free to Air + one off purchases is the way to go IMHO.

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ATV2 Not great

If only my Apple TV 2 would output 720P / 60Hz to my (relatively new) Panasonic TV, I'd take them a bit more seriously.

From reading their support forums, seems to be a common issue on many TVs. The crazy thing is - the box boots and displays at that res / refresh rate, but as soon as it tries to pull the EDID from the TV, it refuses to output in that mode.

Means any content I might rent which is HD only, only gets output at 480P on my TV.

720P / 50Hz does kind-of work, but the video glitching makes it unwatchable...

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Anonymous Coward

no problem so far

used it on a philips 9xxx 5 years old and on a philips 9xxx 1 year, no problems, never had to check the settings except for the wifi network.

do you have the last updates on the apple tv? last year at least 2 updates.

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Yes - got latest firmware. Here's one of the Apple support threads for reference: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3385822?start=0&tstart=0

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Interesting concept

This is an interesting concept, maybe just a little late in the day now. I fail to see how it will be different to Sky + Anytime or Virgin Media on demand which is available free of charge if you subscribe to their broadcast service. Maybe if it became a media center for connected devices, but then there's Sky Go for that.

The next technical challenge is bandwidth. If you have Sky, you have the option for unlimited broadband through them, Virgin Media pipes their on demand straight to the box via the tv cable. It will be interesting to see how Apple will deal with the often quite meager broadband allowances we have in the UK. An hour's quite poor HD quality (tbh) iPlayer comes out about 1gb while a Blu-Ray will be over 10Gb for the feature depending on sound options etc.

We'll have to see what comes out, but I'll be sticking to my Virgin Media box.

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I guess one big difference is that you're not paying a monthly subscription to Murdoch-corp!

As a previous poster pointed out: Freesat + Apple TV (or equivalent), depending on your viewing patterns, can save a fair bit of money.

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Valid

A very valid point!

As for price, I'll reserve judgement until I see a price list. Don't forget to include a high usage broadband account. The basic Sky / Virgin packages are not that much these day and often come with on-demand features.

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TV is a great device

I got an TV for Christmas and it's a fantastic device for my purposes.

I have got 705 films and 485 TV programmes so the ability to stream effortlessly to my 50" HDTV in my lounge is great. I don't think I'll be renting any films as they are quite expensive, but I can see it has got potential - the ability to add new channels/services as they become available (it'll be easy for Apple to add this, like Sony/M$ added it to their games consoles).

AirPlay mirroring from my iPad/iPhone is also a great feature - with the ESPN App I can watch the Premiership goals without a subscription.

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Agree in principle

Yes, it's a good way of streaming content...but only from itunes. And only from .mp4/m4v's from itunes.

It's a big step to convert an existing library into this format, and once you've done it, you're effectively locked into that model, as not all streaming solutions support the itunes structure or formats (especailly if using DRM'ed media).

If Apple had openly adopted the DNLA standard and been a bit more flexible with media types, I'm sure they'd be selling a lot more than they are now. And don't forget that a lot of new TV's and players *do* support DNLA out the box, so unless Apple gets onboard soon, I'd expect to see sales actually dropping.

Caveat: I have the same setup as you, but now regret the Apple lock in - I'd prefer my library to be less reliant on Apple, in case I want to change my solution later down the line.

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Bronze badge

Not surprised.

"Strategy Analytics also concluded that Apple TV users are spending more money on movies and TV shows "

I'm not surprised that with the Apple Tax things on Apple TV are more expensive. ^_^

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