How Apple could make an iPod for television.

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
Aug. 22 2006 12:24 PM

An iPod for TV

How Apple could make it work.

(Continued from Page 1)

All of which would seem to be an argument for Apple jumping into this market, but not with some hybrid computer-television. The iPod, after all, wasn't a fusion of the Mac and a digital music player; it was its own new thing. In many ways, Apple is uniquely positioned to transform the home AV space the way they transformed the music industry. They have the best interface designers on the planet, and they have immense consumer electronics credibility and brand loyalty thanks to the iPod. They've also developed the open Bonjour standard that enables different components on a home network to communicate effortlessly. Bonjour is central to Apple's AirTunes feature, which lets you stream music to speakers over Wi-Fi using Airport Express stations. This is a great example of what a smart AV network should look like. When you insert an audio cable into an Airport Express, it automatically appears as an option for audio output in iTunes. If Apple built an iTV that worked this seamlessly, that consolidated all its functions around a single remote and established a standard for communication between components, they might well have an iPod-sized hit.

There's one big problem here: An iTV would need to play well with others. Most people aren't just going to chuck their entire system to buy Apple's home theater alternative. Look at me: I'm obviously a believer in Apple's ability to fix this problem. Still, I'd much prefer not to sell my new LCD TV on Craigslist, and Time Warner is forcing me to use their cable box for HD DVR features. So for me, the ideal Apple home AV product is one that somehow makes my existing system work but without forcing me to start over from scratch.


The beauty of the iPod was that it was a supplement to your existing music gear, not a replacement. Part of the reason that it quickly became a mass success is that it didn't have the "switching costs" that were traditionally involved in moving from Windows to the Mac. If Apple's going to introduce a supplementary product without prohibitive switching costs—something closer to a universal remote than an all-in-one system—it's going to have to deal with dumb components out there that not only lack Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but can't even agree on the infrared signal for "play." Steve Jobs is famously a perfectionist when it comes to interface design. Could he live with a device that can't reliably turn on a television?



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?