On Wednesday I posted my article predicting how the future Apple TV will work, and I emailed a link to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who’s been writing a lot about this stuff (here and here). No problem there, the guy’s busy, super-selective about linking stuff, and probably finds my ideas to be pretty obvious.
But then I listen to him on yesterday’s Talk Show, and holy crap. Gruber believes:
- There’s no way the Apple TV will use cable cards.
- The way forward is that channels will be apps. E.g., the new iPad Bloomberg app, but running on the apple TV.
This is insane. Predicting what Apple will do based on what it’s done in the past is a great strategy, except when it’s not. My take-away from what Apple’s done over the last 5 years is that they’ve systematically become more and more realistic about what people need in a product to buy it, and putting that into the product. The obstacles that’ve kept people from getting an iPhone have been systematically eliminated (enterprise support, pricing, more carriers). So why the heck would they create an television that doesn’t work with cable?
Certainly there are people who get by without cable (I’m one), and the numbers are growing every year. But even more people can’t imagine life without cable. (I imagine Gruber is one, sports fanatic that he is.) Is your Apple TV going to connect to a cable box? I think Steve Jobs’ quote, “the simplest user interface you could imagine,” takes that off the table. So I’m sticking by my predictions there: the Apple TV will work equally well with or without cable. For those using it with cable, it’ll abstract away as much of the vestiges of cable — channels, schedules, etc. — as it can.
But the “apps as channels” thing is even crazier thing to me, for reasons that I don’t even think require explanation. Look at the mess that magazine apps have made of navigation. Do you really want every channel on your TV to have its own navigation?!