I was thrilled at the idea of a new AppleTV, or as it was being rumored “iTV”. As an early adopter of the first AppleTV, I took a bit of offense when Jobs and Co. referred to my $300 device as a “hobby”. But I was confident that they would come up with something great in an update.
And when I heard a comment come from Apple that sounded very much like their “we’re not sitting here doing nothing” comment regarding the iPhone back in 2006, I was encouraged that the Cupertino elves were working on producing something awesome.
Google showed off their TV initiative, which is impressive, but lacked that Apple luster. I knew it was only a matter of weeks before I could see Apple release something that blew everyone out of the water. I was wrong.
What Apple showed off was completely unexciting. Even the box design lacked inspiration. You must keep this in context of who is saying it. I’m typing this on my 23” iMac (with my brand new Magic Trackpad), with my iPhone, iPad and Macbook Air sitting next to me, listening to the Spin Doctors on my Apple Hi-Fi. My AppleTV sits downstairs, broken, next to another iMac and more Macbooks (one for everyone in the house). As you can tell, Apple and I have a simple relationship. They make it, I buy it. if they build it, I will come. (insert inappropriate comment here)
But that’s the worst part of this. The new AppleTV is something even I can’t legitimize buying. I already own a Roku, which gives me Netflix, and Amazon. Amazon too has .99 TV show rentals. AppleTV is really nothing more than a Roku.
Sure there is the Airplay thing. But they already had AirTunes, and that kinda sucked to be honest. I use, and love, Sonos for playing music in my house. You simply can’t beat the combo of Sonos with services like Napster and Pandora. Sure, with AppleTV I can’t rent a TV show on my iPad and have it play on my television. Who cares? If I wanted the show on my TV, I would have ordered it there.
And don’t even get me started on this B.S. of .99 TV shows on iTunes. It’s great if I want to watch a 1985 episode of The Fall Guy (everyone knows of my deep-seated hatred of Douglas Barr), but if I want to watch a show that I may actually be interested in catching up on, like Son’s of Anarchy, or Damages, that’s still $3.
While Google is pushing out a product that will run apps and change the way we interact with our home entertainment, Apple has ripped out a nearly three year old product like Roku. I would actually give Roku the edge here because they will always support the services that make sense (Pandora, Hulu, etc…).
Apple needs to go back to the workshop and start whipping those elves to give them the iPhone of the television world. Or just buy Sonos and Boxee and go from there.