An Apple Television might be closer to reality

by Derek Smith

An Apple Television might be closer to reality

by Derek Smith on September 22, 2010

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It was revealed in an SEC filing on Monday that Apple has entered into a multi-year agreement with Rovi Corporation, allowing it to license intellectual property from the digital content management company. What does that mean exactly? No one knows yet, but it could mean a lot of things.

Rovi provides software technology to consumer electronics manufacturers and content providers, such as interactive television channel guides, digital media delivery and recognition services and software to build products with DVR functionality. This could signal that the Apple TV is becoming more than just a hobby.

I don’t think I was the only one slightly disappointed with the feature set of the new Apple TV announced earlier this month (although I did pre-order one). AirPlay sounds pretty cool and Netflix streaming is great, but what about other apps? According to a note from Apple analyst Gene Munster, detailed by Business Insider, Apple could be on track to finally bring the App Store to the living room. “As consumers gain comfort with connected TVs and apps on their TVs, we believe Apple will eventually take its all-in-one philosophy to the digital living room,” Munster’s note stated.

Munster believes that this will lead to live TV and DVR on the Apple TV and possibly “an all-in-one Apple Television in the next 2-4 years.”

That timeframe seems far in the distance, especially with Google ready to firmly plant themselves in the living room in the coming weeks with Google TV. But one thing we can be almost certain of is that if Apple decides to go full force into the land of the couch potato, it won’t be without its surprises.

I’ve long thought that an all-in-one Apple television made sense and with the success of TV apps from companies like Samsung and Sony, it only seems more and more likely. Let’s face it, no one does apps quite like Apple. In fact, without Apple and the iPhone, I’m not sure the term “app” would be quite as ubiquitous as it’s become. And with the iPad, Apple has already proven that in most cases, bigger apps are better apps. But whether bigger is better when it comes to fifty inch screens is yet to be seen. The new AppleTV is rumoured to run a version of iOS, built using relatively the same internals as the Phone. Apps could very well make an appearance in this AppleTV’s future.

The big advantage I foresee Apple having in the home theater space is ease of use. I’ve rarely heard anyone who doesn’t have the Windows Kool-Aid running through their veins complain that Apple products aren’t easy to use. Apple hardware and software has almost become synonymous with simplicity, while most home theater technology out there today is anything but simple. If Apple were to create a “magical” television, one could almost guarantee it would be easy to use with a slick and pretty UI, not to mention that with Jonathan Ive behind the design, it will also most certainly be gorgeous even when it’s turned off.

All of this is fun to dream about of course, but the realist in me is also skeptical. Any number of things outside of an actual television could be built with Rovi’s technology. I’d hedge more of my bets on a much improved third generation Apple TV box. Depending on the success of the newest Apple TV, a third-gen offering with live TV and DVR capability could be a huge hit. As is always the case with Apple however, true intentions are anyone’s guess, but the possibilities are certainly exciting.

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