As Apple has well proven, revolutions have a cumulative effect.
The success of iPod created all that anticipation for iPhone, which caused even more hype for iPad, which will now start generating ultra-hype for… iTV. (Let’s not worry our little heads about what Apple will really name it given the iTV network in the U.K.)
But the point of this post isn’t that iTV is going to break the pre-launch buzz records, it’s that iTV will have a very tough time failing.
First, there’s the Need Factor.
iPod and iTunes were needed. Buying and enjoying music was a mess and no one else was stepping up to the plate.
iPhone was needed. It entered a market filled with villains and devices that were as complicated as they were ugly. We couldn’t wait for Apple to save us.
iPad was a glorious revolution, but we weren’t sure if we needed it. Indeed, some of the lukewarm response to iPad’s launch came from people who just didn’t get why it was a big deal — until they finally got their hands on one.
iTV is needed. Wow, is it needed. Like iPhone, it will enter a market where the choices are confusing, and the current batch of TV makers and retailers are their own worst enemies.
I know, because I just finished a few weeks of living the adventure. I would have waited for iTV, except my now-dead TV didn’t leave me that option. So I dived into the process.
I really don’t know how normal people can shop for a TV intelligently. It’s utterly impossible to compare models. The names are indecipherable, and the models you see at Best Buy might not even be on the manufacturer’s site. (Seems there are a number of retailer-exclusive models, like there are in the smartphone world.) And good luck figuring out what some of the features even mean. Buying a TV requires some serious study if you’ve been out of the market for a few years.
Don’t shoot me, but I ended up with a big Samsung “Smart TV.” Only problem was, it wasn’t nearly as smart as I expected it to be. Either that, or I wasn’t nearly as smart as it required me to be.
The setup screens were cluttered. After several false starts, my wireless network finally showed up, but then it offered me four different flavors of WEP security options. I hadn’t a clue which one applied to me, so it was trial and error until I found one that worked. Other issues kept cropping up until I finally got it working right. Overall: tedious and annoying.
It’s hard to imagine an experience more ripe for Apple-ization. I haven’t a clue how iTV will work, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power to figure it will offer:
1. A simplified TV shopping experience. Maybe one or two screen sizes and just a few configuration options.
2. A simplified setup experience. Plug in, see network, connect.
3. A simplified control experience. Thank you Siri, via iPhone or iPad.
4. A simplified content experience. A way to break free from the cable companies’ predefined packaging.
No matter how I imagine iTV, it’s hard to imagine it not being a full-scale revolution, possibly Apple’s biggest yet — simply because the need is so obvious and there are multiple TVs in just about every home.
And I may have a good deal for you next summer on a used Samsung.