What it is: Apple TV is a box that connects an ordinary TV to the Internet, but actually promises so much more.
On the surface, Apple TV doesn’t do anything different than other TV streaming devices. You plug the Apple TV into a TV and connect to the Internet through WiFi or an Ethernet cable. That by itself is unremarkable and services like Netflix and Hulu will likely appear on all such TV streaming devices, making them nothing but ordinary commodities where the lowest price wins.
Where Apple TV differs is that you can create apps for it. Right now Apple TV is no different than other TV streaming devices, but the potential revolves around apps. Instead of watching channels, you visit apps such as a CBS news app or an History Channel app. Once you choose which app to watch, you can pick individual shows within that app.
Initially most Apple TV apps are free and offer free content such as Bloomberg TV or the National Geographic Channel. Other apps charge a subscription to access its content such as Hulu or Netflix. The real key is that over time, more companies will develop apps to highlight their content, and they can create a variety of apps:
- Free apps that you can install for free and view free content
- Free apps with in-app purchases so you may need to pay for premium content
- Fee apps that charge you before you can download and install it
What makes Apple TV different from other TV streaming rivals is this app development future. Now anyone can create their own TV channel by creating their own Apple TV apps. Initially the most popular Apple TV apps are games, but the emphasis of Apple TV apps is media content, so you can expect more sophisticated video viewing apps to appear in the future. Once that happens, then people will start flocking to the Apple TV just like they flocked to the iPhone because of the apps.
Other rival streaming device manufacturers can mimic the hardware of the Apple TV and even surpass its technical specifications (such as offering 4k video), but it won’t matter if Apple TV’s app development community takes off and starts developing unique and interesting apps just for Apple TV. Then the choice won’t be price between TV streaming devices but whether your favorite app works with a particular TV streaming device. Generally the answer will be that developed will code apps for Apple TV first and anyone else second, much like most developers code for iOS first and Android second.
Right now, Apple TV isn’t a must-have device, but like the original iPhone, give it time to develop. The first iPhone didn’t even have an App Store. Within a few years, you can expect Apple TV to start blossoming with an ever growing app library with unique apps you can’t find anywhere else.
Apple is simply selling the Apple TV to generate interest in an actual shipping product. Ion the next few years, watch and wait. Apple TV has the potential of changing the way we watch TV forever.