Prediction: The new Apple TV IS going to be revealed today, IS going to be awesome, but IS NOT what you think it’ll be

I love this little guy

I’ve been geekily enthralled by tech blogger musings and predictions about the fabled iTV – Apple’s industry-shaking, style-setting, generation-defining, wall-encompassing flatscreen that Jobs himself apparently hinted at. My interest has not been due to the imagined home entertainment revolution an Apple-bred television would supposedly bring, but at how so-called analysts and experts suddenly lack both expertise and analysis when speculating on the latest shiny gizmo to emerge from Cupertino.

Instead, you get a strange kind of fuzzy logic that can be summed up as:

Item of technology that is feasibly possible (though practically nonsensical)
+
Designed by Apple
=
It must be a good idea
=
Apple are DEFINITELY working on it

Which is why you get the kind of breathless fantasising that the new Apple TV will wrap a 47″ retina-display touchscreen, Siri-style voice controls, and built-in Safari browser inside a glistening black and chrome, wafer-thin shell and sell for $1000. These predictions ignore some obvious points:

  • You can already get TVs with these features… and they suck
  • Ordinary people don’t interact with TVs, or desire to interact with TVs, in a way that would welcome such features
  • Virtually anything Apple could want to get out of a TV (and what users would really benefit from) could be introduced for a tenth of the price via an upgrade to the existing Apple TV boxes

Whichever way you look at it, the idea of Apple releasing it’s own big-screen television seems unlikely. It’s even less likely that such a device will be a runaway commercial success in the mould of the iPad and iPhone. However, with the right push, the £99 Apple TV could become ubiquitous – the must-have accessory for the growing number of iPhone and iPad users, and a way to cement Apple’s presence in the living room.

And you’ve got to assume that this is Apple’s mission: to sell lots of stuff to lots of people at a decent profit, and for these people to spend even more money, hermetically sealed within the Apple ecosystem. That’s got to be far more important for the company than building a sexy, expensive new television, right?

Which is why there’ll be no iTV revealed today. But what could be unveiled may be freaking awesome…

Apple TV whatifery

This is my question:

What if the “Apple TV” is not a device? (Dramatic pause). What if it’s an app?

Imagine a button on your homescreen that acts as a portal to the many media apps already available on the iPad and iPhone. It’s like Newsstand for TV applications, but with a radically new and unique, visually striking interface. One click allows you to flick through all your ‘channels’ (i.e. apps you’ve downloaded), download/rent episodes, or (via a host of clever, new APIs) browse a unified EPG and set up notifications for new episodes of your favourite programmes.

Naturally, if you have the Apple TV box, clicking the the icon on your iDevice will launch the app on your TV screen – making the connection between devices seamless. While your selected show plays on the TV, your iDevice persists as a content browser and remote, or you can simply move to a different app while your show still plays on the TV.

What better way to sell Apple TVs? The existence of an all-in-one media portal (with attractive marketing and distribution benefits for content providers) acts as yet another major selling point for iDevices – and makes the purchase of a cheap and cheerful Apple TV box a no-brainer. “Apple TV” becomes something far more accessible – a brand as all-pervasive as iTunes – and, being available on all (or most) of the 316 million iDevices currently sold, it’s a far more attractive proposition for networks/content creators looking for an audience.

So… that’s pretty much my prediction for today’s Apple event: a newsstand-like-thing but for TV channels/apps, with a cool UI and clever connectivity with the Apple TV box.

I’m probably completely off the mark. This probably doesn’t make any sense, but I thought I’d better quickly chuck this crap down during my lunch break, before time runs out to talk about what’s going to happen and everyone’s talking about what did happen.

Here’s the thing: if I’m wrong, nobody will care. But if I’m right… Ohhhhh, man, if I’m right… Total bragging rights for life. X x

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