Thoughts on Apple TV- 2

Now, is Apple TV its old set-top box with a new interface? Or a whole new TV? The TVs available today are dumb terminals with the rich interactive experience coming from the set-top box.

The current experience for interactive TV comes through a set-top box. The interface lets you play around with the tv schedule (record or make shows favourite), browse the web, watch photos. The problem here is that there are two interfaces- the TV and the set-top box. Apple’s TV aims (or would aim) to reinvent TV viewing the way Flipboard revolutionized RSS feeds reading.

Another crucial question is- how does one bypass the localization issue? Different countries have their own language channels, local cable operators who know what people want to watch and what they’ll pay for it.
How does one create an engaging experience across languages and countries?

The solution could lie in breaking down the content into its bare essentials. All TV programs are moving images and/or text. If we can scan whats displayed on the screen, we will have a lot of data in terms of text (ticker tape, stocks, headlines, team names and scores), and images (faces, objects, places). Now using the power of internet, these metadata can be used to show related information to get an enhanced viewing experience. This will work for multiple languages and across countries. Here are some examples of how the TV could display related content for news, music and infotainment channels.

Discovery display for Enhanced TV

For an example, the other day, I was watching this motor racing documentary on Audi team participating in Le Mans 2008. While watching, I had a lot of questions as to who won the race the next year, are the drivers still racing, how is Peugeot faring, and how do these cars help building the cars we drive. Now normally, I would have my laptop or iPad to look these up, but would be great if I can see it as I am watching the documentary.

Apple is about controlling the key points in a business in order to provide a seamless experience to the user. The main players in the TV business are content providers (channels), distributors and cable operators and tv manufacturers. In the next post, I will try to understand how Apple could cut the cable operators layer by redefining TV’s digital distribution.

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