I've been reeling at the way all today's Apple stories fit together: Apple has a plan for the Apple TV -- iTV; meanwhile broadcasters seem set to follow their own directions with Time Warner developing its own iOS app; an Apple patent makes your virtual life into a comic book while roll over Android, the sad fact is that iPhone users are more attractive (according to dating site, OK Cupid, so it must be true). Oh, and it looks like the US will get the new iTunes TV streaming service months before anyone else.
Engadget is telling us that Apple intends re-branding the Apple TV as "iTV". This story is circulating across the Web this morning, picking up believers as it grows. I'm a little in two minds on it, not least because iTV is a brand used by the UK's second broadcaster.
In brief, Apple TV will shrink and use the same processor (the A4 chip) you'll find inside the iPad, iPhone 4 and, starting September 14, the iPod touch. The $99, 16GB device will be used as an access point for Apple's TV-focused streaming media service, iTunes cloud.
Many reports note the device won't output in full HD (1,080i or 1,080p), but the current model of Apple TV doesn't, either, as noted here. As I've been saying for years, the Apple TV will get iOS apps, which suggests some kind of touch-based remote control, no?
The BBC is doing it, Sky does it, now Time Warner Cable is jumping in to seize a slice of iPad heaven, pulling together its own iOS app for the device (and iPod touch, iPhone, dare I say iTV?). No, this won't yet let you watch your television on your iOS device (more on this later), but it will let you access listings and schedules.
Take a look at the video above for an idea of how the Time Warner people hope to make their app a big success. The app will let you view current TV listings and change DVR settings remotely. You'll aslo get much better search features than you do as a Time Warner subscriber using the conventional set-up. The catch? It's a prototype.
Last gasp of old media
With all the move to mobile devices for playback of television content, you'd think TV rights-holders would be having a field day, embracing a multi-revenue-stream future in which ten thousand sales become ten million. What? Hold on.. they're not? That's right, old media is kicking back again, with mobile operators being charged hefty licensing fees if they want to go play in the TV on mobile garden.
"I can programme a package of content on mobile and make it available for $10 a month in the US, but if I take that same lineup of content and make it available on the tablet, I'm going to have to charge more like $30. And at $30, there is not a market for that product," said MobiTV CMO Ray DeRenzo, speaking to Mobile Entertainment.
This seems a typical pattern as rights holders fight for time to consider the implictions of change. So here's a prediction...
Apple TV (streaming) for US first
I say this each time Apple delivers a brand new device, the company will first serve the US market before diversifying into international markets. Reasons for this are many.
- It helps keep things secret. The more people you negotiate a deal with, the more people know a deal is being made, news then leaks. Apple will initially achieve permissions for its streamed cloud-based media service from a handful of major US names.
- Steve Jobs loves America. He does. He'll always give the US the best deal. He's a patriot. That's how it is.
- Broadcasting rights holders. Have you ever tried to release a compilation album? I have. In music you need a contract, a lawyer and must reach so many deals that by the time you get your compilation together you'll be wondering why you ever bothered attempting to in the first place. It is even worse when it comes to TV transmissions: are you negotiating single use? Purchase? Rental? It is dizzying.
Point three is the kicker. Now imagine that you have to engage in similar negotiations for each territory. Each country. Each channel. Each programme maker. Each show.
Trust me. Apple TV (or iTV, as presumably Apple handed cash-strapped UK broadcaster, ITV, some money for use of the brand name on the TV-related product) shows (streaming) will be first made widely available in the US. There may be some availability in other countries, but the focus will be on America first. That's how Apple introduced the iTunes Store originally, too.
Comic book heroes
Speaking of Steve Jobs we all love superheroes, now Apple has this wild-seeming patent for a technology which can turn you into one. It will record what you do when playing a video game, and can then take that information and turn it into a comic book featuring your player character avatar.
Apple's solution is to record key game events, dialogue, character detail and metrics recording how well you played the game. At the end of the game this information is used to generate a comic book of your gaming experience, complete with pre-made text, Patently Apple says.
I can imagine these comics will be made available via iOS devices, potentially via iTunes and most certainly as part of Apple's still in development GameCenter tech.
OK Cupid is a desperately popular online dating site that seems to have a pretty good track record for people meeting people who turn out to be nice people.
Now it looks like iPhone users may be the most active of the bunch, with more sexual partners over time than users of other devices, according to the dating website's survey of around 10,000 smartphone users.
Apple haters will no doubt observe this could also suggest lovers eventually see sense, and dump their Apple-loving iPhone user for an Android lover or a BlackBerry boy (or girl). On the other hand, Apple fans may just say you have to move fast if you're looking to make that one big call...