A while back, when asked about bringing the Web to the television, Steve Jobs shared his thoughts that people don’t want a box that connects to the television. This was after Apple had declared, much to the disdain of us Apple TV owners, that Apple TV was “just a hobby”. But this is all starting to make sense.
When I purchased my new Apple TV, I was very confused as to what Apple was doing. I was disappointed that they were not allowing apps to be developed for the Apple TV, which ran iOS. It seemed like Apple had yet again missed the bus when it comes to television. But…
Apple has an amazing grasp of the Mp3 and mobile phone space. The iPod and iPhone represent the lions share of those markets. And third party developers have flourished in providing accessories for these devices. Many consumer audio products, from high-end home theatre received, to alarm clocks, are iPod compatible.
Apple has also made big strides in bringing these devices up to iOS, so by the end of the year there may very well be 200 million devices that run iOS.
With the latest iOS update, Apple released AirPlay. AirPlay allows an iOS user to stream their music and video to compatible devices. Currently there is only the Apple TV and the Airport Express. But Apple has deals in place with with companies like Marantz and Dennon, two of the most popular home theatre receiver manufactures. One would think this an obvious next step, the ability to wirelessly stream music from your iPod to your home audio system. But there is more to this.
Apple is allowing third party application developers to create AirPlay enabled applications. So not only will you be able to eventually stream music to your home audio system, but so you should be able to stream movies, games and other applications directly from your phone to any television in your home.
When you combine this ability with a custom application from these manufactures, it’s easy to see where Apple is taking over the living room. Imagine being able to scroll through films on iTunes or Netflix right on your iPad, and then send the film you chose right through your TV, without any box like an Apple TV. Or imagine the ability for you and 3 friend to play scrabble on your iPhones, while viewing the board on your flat screen TV.
The 200 million iOS devices are Apple secret weapon. They don’t need to fight Google, or other companies to try to get a box in your living room. They are happy to use the box that’s already in your hands.
How long before a company like Blizzard makes an iPad version of World of Warcraft and makes in AirPlay enabled so that you can play on your television? How long before you check into a hotel and can easily listen to your music wirelessly from your iPhone, or watch streamed to their television from your computer? About 1 – 2 years I’m guessing.
Some will argue that Apple has a flawed strategy because they are not bringing the “real” Internet to the television, everything is run through apps. But I would argue that part of the genius of Steve Jobs is that he knows most people don’t care about the “real” Internet, they just want to do cool stuff. People want to watch movies, listen to music, play games, etc… And if someone wants to display a webpage on a television, they can easily do that by just enabling the browser to be AirPlay compatible.
At that time Apple will be generating revenue from movie, music, games and other apps, all shared on the television. Apple’s stock price is already through the roof, but it is likely undervalued considering they are about to become the default store for most movies, music and games in the world.
That would be a great feature, I'll admit I almost want to buy the $100 Apple Tv just for airplay.
Of course, I would imagine this is locked down and patented by apple (or at least would require apple to license the Airplay feature to boxee.)