Why Apple keeps trying with the TV

Apple TV

So the big Apple event of the first of September came and went. There were some good news: for instance version 4.1 of iOS that seem like it will make the performance of the iPhone 3G bearable again, and some news that left people scratching their heads, namely the ping social iTunes thing.

I vaguely noticed that Apple produced a new incarnation of the Apple TV, but I paid it little attention: I watch nearly no TV, so I not much interest in this. The previous incarnations were not that successful either, so why is Apple still bothering? On many other markets such lackluster results would have been meant that the product would not see another iteration. I found the answer this week-end in the rental apartment I get when I am in Mountain View. During the week-end, I tried watching the TV, and could not.

This had nothing to do with the quality of the shows or the reports. I could not make the thing work. On the living room table, there were three remotes, some explanations taped to the table. Below the huge screen, a motorola cable box, and a pioneer dvd player. I tried following the instructions, I tried controlling the devices by hand, I tried the various buttons, to get to a menu. After five minutes I gave up. For all the talks of standards and user-friendliness, the video-equippement companies are still doing thing the old way, with many devices that can exchange data, but no control information, no standard interface and very primitive services. This reminded me of phones before Apple stormed the smart-phone market.

Given the sorry state of home video installations, I suspect Apple will try to get a grip at this market until either they succeed at changing the status-quo, or somebody else does.

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