Monday, August 23, 2010

Apple iTV -- A Big Change?

Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) has a well-informed, short blog on the prospects of Apple's iTV, which he suggests will be announced in September. According to Rose:

The rumor: Apple will be releasing a revamped/renamed version of their 'Apple TV' set-top box, called 'iTV'. The box will run the Apple iOS (same as the iPhone/iPad), and be priced around $99.
(Kevin Rose Why Apple's iTV Will Change Everything).

The only quarrel that I have with Rose's piece is his headline. So far from changing everything, my bet is that this is just one more 'chock stone' in the more or less impregnable media arch that Apple is building. It changes very little and will probably be as successful as Apple's other recent innovations, because they are all moving in the same direction. Its an obvious gap in their media line-up: having a market for film, audio, books, magazines, newspapers and now TV will make the Apple constellation (iPhone, iPad, iTouch and iTV) an incredibly tough proposition for any head-on competitor, Sony, Google, Microsoft, HP etc.

Apple will be even harder to overtake when they have planted the idea that your iPad, or your iPhone is the default remote control for the family TV. One can also guarantee that they will evade the charge of monopoly by making sure that the iTV platform is 'semi-open'. TV companies will be able to sell programs, through iTunes, but channels will also run on the hardware and nobody will be obliged to put stuff in iTunes..... its just that if you don't do that you will be missing a major market opportunity. Apple will also control the consumer data and jealously protect the 'privacy' of viewers information requirements/habits. The TV consumer electronics companies will suddenly realise that a lot of the value they capture has migrated to the lowly, and hitherto neglected, remote control. No need for touch screen TVs if the control is touch screen. Nielsen will lose its pre-eminence in measuring audience and ratings. And the TV network and cable companies will suddenly realise that a great deal of leverage over their output has magically gone over to the touch sensitive iPad/iTV device, which is the switch to their conduits. Apple disintermediates most of the big players by inserting their iDevice in the space between the layers of hardware and program. Who else gains from this disruptive innovation? Consumers of course, and the program producers and independent production companies. That is the way disintermediation works.

TV companies may be appalled by this prospect, but all other media organizations will understand that this innovation gives them just another very strong reason to get their apps on to the iPad/iPhone platform.


Alain Pierrot said...

Clever and intuitive, as usual!

I fully subscribe with the analysis, except for the acception of "disintermediation": in my view, it would be more accurate to tell that Apple is introducing its own intermediation?

Adam Hodgkin said...

That is a key point. Apple has introduced its own form of intermediation -- in which a new OS and a range of media-managing consumer devices give Apple extraordinary leverage. Google has a big problem.