Posts categorized “appletv”.

Apple TV as odd-product out

March 19th, 2010

Apple TV

The Apple TV has had an interesting history. Starting out, it accompanied the iPhone as Apple’s “next big thing,” even if its spotlight was dim in comparison with the iPhone’s.

From then on, it became a “hobby,” and now I wonder if it’s even that.

Consider this. On the Apple.com Store, the “above the fold” shot looks something like this:

Apple.com store homepage

Notice anything missing? The Macs and iPods and Touch devices are all there in the circle. But no Apple TV. In fact, to find any mention of the Apple TV anywhere on the Store homepage, you have to look under the “For iPod” section:

Apple TV under iPods

Deeper in the store, the Apple TV gets a mention, but under Mac Accessories. So is the Apple TV for iPods or for Macs?

What gives? If Filemaker Pro and Apple’s printer bundle can get a graphical mention on the Store homepage, why not Apple TV?

I put together a current Apple product lineup grid, showing the available desktops, notebooks, touch devices, iPods, and what I call “Misc.” – which just means anything that isn’t any of the above categories:

Current Apple product lineup

The “Misc.” section is a mish-mash. Displays, peripherals, networking and backup products – and the Apple TV. One could argue that it belong with the iPod, but I consider iPods portable music devices. And the Apple TV isn’t quite a Mac, either, even though it runs a version of Front Row and connects with an iTunes library.

No, it’s just kind of out there on it’s own. It has no rock-solid home in the current Apple lineup.

On the other hand, imagine if we added some other category. We’ll call it “Entertainment,” and then add all the other items under “Misc.” as a kind of peripherals-only section:

Hypothetical Apple product lineup

For “Entertainment,” we have to imagine the Apple TV as its own category – perhaps a harbinger to things to come. Of what? There have been rumors of some sort of Apple television. Maybe they’ve been waiting for competition. Maybe they’re striking a deal with Netflix and Boxee right now. Maybe there’s a flatscreen TV out there with an Apple logo on the back, waiting to be released.

It’s just speculation, and I don’t consider it a worthwhile rumor for the time being. Apple, now, seems focused on its Touch devices – specifically the iPad. The Apple TV is surely stuck in some development limbo. One could even argue that the fourth-leg of the Apple stool is now the iPad instead of the Apple TV.

We’re also seeing the Apple product lineup gain some complexity, with the Apple TV fitting in nowhere that makes sense. Remember when Steve Jobs returned, and he cut everything Apple was doing at the time (killing the Newton, say) down to the very minimum? He filled in the final slot in the G3 lineup at the iBook launch in 1999:

Mac G3 lineup

Back then, you had two consumer Macs and two pro Macs. In the G4 era, things became a little less simplified with the PowerMac G4 Cube (unless you want to lump it with the regular PowerMacs) and the iPod. But even then, you could fit products in definite categories: consumer Macs, pro Macs, smaller iPods, and full-sized iPods.

Where does the Apple TV fit in all this? Nowhere neatly that I can figure out. And Apple quarantining the Apple TV from the Store homepage seems to send a message. “If you really want an Apple TV, you’re going to have to dig.”

Stop with the ‘worst of’ Apple lists

October 8th, 2009

top10hellspawn

Yes, we know – everyone hated the iMac puck mouse/Newton/Mac TV/Pippin. There’s no more need to include it in a “Top # Apple Mistakes” list anymore.

For the past few years, for as long as I’ve been writing Newton Poetry, these “worst of” lists have cropped up from time to time. Most of them mention a similar combination of the above Apple “mistake” products. Chances are, each list will feature the same disliked Apple products as every other what-were-they-thinking list.

It’s a sham, and it’s annoying.

First, the whole “top 10″ list is simply an easy way to be Dugg and Stumbled Upon. I should know – I’m guilty of it myself. The difference is that I didn’t have to browse through other sites, copy their content, and paste it into the site. Every blog and site these days has to have their own iteration of the “worst of” list. Sure, each post probably generates a bit of traffic and tons of comments. The result, however, is that the site ends up looking desperate and silly.

Second, these posts are unoriginal in the extreme. In fact, it’s easy to predict what products will be featured in any given list. Here’s a quick rundown of Apple products you should have never purchased, just off the top of my head:

  1. Apple iMac hockey puck mouse
  2. Some Apple Newton MessagePad or eMate
  3. Apple/Bandai Pippin
  4. Mac TV
  5. Mac Portable
  6. PowerMac G4 Cube
  7. Apple III
  8. Apple Lisa
  9. Some random Performa or LC model
  10. 20th Anniversary Mac

Funny that no one mentions the Apple Hi Fi or, as of yet, the Apple TV. Perhaps in a few years those products will be included, too.

Here’s the point: it’s as if, when tech blogs are pressed for fresh content, they generate some unoriginal, macabre list of Apple failures and run it as a “top 10″ post. Voila – instant page views.

Us Apple fans, and especially us Newton fans, deserve better in-depth analysis than what we all ready know to be true. I hope that Apple fans see past such drivel, and skip the link on Macsurfer.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” our collective wisdom should tell these sites. “Get a goddamn life.”

No, Apple’s not perfect, and yes, we remember the devil-spawned puck mouse. Can we move on?

There for a while, I was reporting on every damned list that included the Newton. My knee-jerk reaction was outrage, of course, but after a while that outrage turned into a passive frustration. Now, it’s just annoying.

Because it keeps happening. Like clockwork.

Sure, we can argue all day about whether the Newton platform was a failure. And we could have some yucks over how clunky (yet beautiful) the Cube really was.

But we only need to have those conversations once or twice. Not every week.

Shame on the blogs that run these “worst of” posts, and shame, especially, to those high-traffic sites that have the resources and talent to generate perfectly good and suitably worthwhile content.

Don’t resort to everyone’s-doing-it posts like these. You ought to know better.

AppleTV is a modern Newton, says marketer

September 24th, 2008

A product that takes longer to explain than unbox? It could be you’re talking about the Newton MessagePad or the Apple TV, says marketing pro Eric Friedman:

The fact that explaining the [Apple TV] takes so long makes this somewhat of a marketing problem as well as we technology problem…Now we all have some form of PDA and nobody can imagine NOT getting e-mail on a Blackberry or an iPhone – yet the Newton pioneered a lot of this thinking despite being panned by a some critics.

Eric’s point is that no one really knows what to do with an Apple TV until they get one, which he says is the same problem the MessagePad faced. Apple releases a great idea, and then fails to capitalize on it, helping competitors succeed where the Apple TV/Newton failed.

Steve Jobs has called the Apple TV a hobby project, which is how the Newton seemed for a long time. Is Eric right? Does Apple have a “great idea” with the Apple TV, and will it last long enough to be successful?