The unwritten future of the Apple TV

And why you'll be glued to it

Apple, iOS, WWDC, Apple TV, Brightcove, Streaming media, TV, television
Credit: Steve Johnson/Flickr

Apple TV, “wasn't the first streaming media device in the living room, but it was the most successful in creating a platform for premium content,” Albert Lai, Chief Technology Officer, Media at online video platform, Brightcove tells AppleHolic.

Apple TV is already “a must have platform for practically every streaming service,” he explains.

Why it matters

In the same way as iOS and the iPhone has nurtured a mobile economy capable of doubling Nintendo’s market cap on strength of one hit game; Apple TV is sewing seeds for similar opportunities.

The system reflects its time. Viewing habits are changing. GfK MRI’s latest research confirms TV viewers today choose to “binge watch” shows they like, rather than being restricted by the traditional linear broadcasting model.


This change is visible across every age group, but digitally-savvy millennials are “among the most prolific bingers, with 53 percent saying that they are regular bingers – binge viewing more than half the time they watch TV,” the report said.

“Not surprisingly, streaming services are the main conduits for binge viewing,” says GfK. “Two-thirds (66%) of regular bingers say streaming is the binge viewing option they use most (up from 58% 10 months ago). 81 percent of millennials who binge regularly use streaming services to do so.”

With Apple set to make some important improvements to Apple TV this fall, these habits will only become more entrenched.

Habit forming

“Apple TV was an emphatic statement that the television is simply a "dumb screen," and that the living room experience is defined by being digital, interactive, and device-centric for mobile and streaming media,” explained Brightcove’s Lai. “The power of the Apple TV is that it becomes another touch-point in the company-consumer relationship.”

Apps and the growing integration between software offerings across Apple’s platforms are likely to help differentiate its streaming device from those offered by its competitors.

While cheaper streaming devices exist, Apple’s TV offering brings compatibility between Macs, iPads, iPhones and more. This means the shows, films, music and applications you use on one platform can migrate to another, the user is firmly in control.

And that’s the point. Apple TV isn’t a streaming box, it’s much more than that. It’s a platform for future evolution of software, products and services that can augment your digital experience.

Incremental innovation

“Apple TV's roots were in video, but it now has the hardware and software foundation to expand more fully into commerce, gaming, and more pragmatic features, such as video conferencing, photo and music management, and integration into home devices,” explains Lai.

On strength of Apple Music adoption, we already know that if Apple eventually does offer its own streaming video/TV services it will quickly attract a huge audience. “A captive audience [that] would be difficult for any company, whether it’s a media company or a brand, to ignore,” notes Lai.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, recently commented: "Whether we're providing it [Apple skinny bundle or live-TV streaming service] or somebody else is, it really doesn't matter to us. What we're trying to do is build the platform that allows anybody to get content to consumers."

Explore the potential

This platform opportunity gives brands new ways to build consumer engagement through Apple TV. “For companies that have the willingness to invest in technology and content, branded content is a natural and powerful progression,” said Lai. Brightcove last year announced three such projects, with MediaWorks, GoNoodle and Sotheby’s. Each one of these created their own distinctive offering on the Apple platform.

It remains to be seen just how much of conventional ads spending will be diverted into such customer engagement attempts and how much this will disrupt existing ads-based broadcasting models. At what point will traditional channels begin banging on Apple’s door?

“The area that could see greater and more cost effective adoption is the growth of promotional and "how to" content by brands and retailers,” said Lai, pointing to things like home improvement content for Home Depot.

What's critical about branded content -- at least, what seems to be increasinly understood by the cognoscenti on the social media "scene" is that it needs to be actually useful. It needs to have inherent value. Consumers are ads and brand resistant and want to connect to something that actually enriches their lives.

With this in mind Lai's next point could herald a world of engaging Apple TV material in fututre. He explains that traditional media companies and others are exploring things like "pop-up" / seasonal content, as well as useful and engaging live streaming experiences. All of which could lead to a diversity of content you'll need smart search and Siri to navigate through.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Want Apple TV tips? If you want to learn how to get the very best out of your Apple TV, please visit my Apple TV website.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

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