Much of the interest in Apple this year has focused around the Apple Watch, which has proven itself an interesting gizmo, but not an overwhelming hit. Things could change next week, when Apple unveils what sounds like a powerful and interesting update to its Apple TV streaming media device.
The new Apple TV reportedly adds many new features, including an entire app platform and store, universal search across video services, a remote control with a touchpad that could double as a simple game controller, Siri’s voice-activated services, and more powerful hardware guts.
Execution and details matter, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But if software developers start getting creative with living-room apps, new forms of video, casual games, and social feeds, this sounds like a potentially awesome piece of technology—and maybe Apple’s next big hit.
If it’s great, and someone had a couple hundred dollars to spend on a new gadget this Christmas, we might recommend this over, say, an Apple Watch (generating a bit of sibling rivalry). And because so many people spend so much time watching television, this might actually be useful to a truly mass audience. Wearable computers might be the future—or not—but sitting on the couch is most certainly the present.
This is not a problem for Apple, per se, but simply the sign of one platform starting to mature, while the other is still in its earliest days. A lot more money is flowing through TV sets than smartwatches in large part because TVs have been around much longer. While the Apple Watch is an obvious “1.0” product, this is Apple’s third major attempt at the Apple TV, which first debuted in 2007, and has been slowly nurtured as a “hobby” since then.
The ideal situation for Apple, of course, is that you’ll want and need both devices for the ultimate experience. Apple has done a better job than any company at building symbiotic relationships among its various devices and services, such as the Mac, iPhone, iTunes store, and iCloud. And that could happen again here, too. The Apple Watch could potentially become a uniquely awesome (if pricey) Apple TV gaming remote.