There have been rumors floating around for a while now about Apple making a “smart tv”. I just read this article about someone who supposedly has seen one so I thought I would throw my 2 cents into the mix.
It’s not a question of technology.
I would wager a lot of hypothetical money that Apple has prototypes of smart TVs in their labs. I bet they have had them for a number of years. In Steve Job’s biography they talk about many different kinds of products that made it to prototype stage that he decided to kill so why do I think a TV would be different?
The Zen Of User Experience
Contrary to popular belief, Apple didn’t invent the portable MP3 player. There were a number of them out before Apple entered the market with the iPod. Heck I even had an iPod alternative. It sucked. It was hard to put songs on it and the interface on the device itself was awful. What Apple did with the iPod was create not just a good piece of hardware but a great user experience. That’s the key to Job’s thinking. He was obsessed with a great experience. Some of the products he killed were great technology but just didn’t work well with his concept of Zen. Remember when the iPad was released? The main word used to describe it was “magic”. That’s not a technology term. A company like Microsoft would have talked about the technology behind their products which appeals to geeks but Apple talks about the experience.
So what is the experience with current smart TVs? Well I really like Samsung TVs. I have two of them. My mother in law though has a new Samsung smart TV and quite frankly it is a poor experience to use it.
It’s slow and sluggish in the user interface. It’s non intuitive to know where to go to do things. The remote has a crazy amount of buttons on it.
My own TV has a Comcast settop DVR box. The user interface is absolutely horrid. Trying to record something takes a long time and I still have a hard time figuring out how to stop recording a series. Now keep in mind, I am a technology savvy person so I can only imagine what normal people do with it.
A question of opportunity
In short, the smart TV market does not live up to it’s potential. Nobody has focused on making a device that just works simply and is enjoyable to use. The technology is there. In fact Apple is sitting on a few technologies like Siri and Facetime that would be great additions to a smart TV. The technology timing is right but more importantly, the users are ready for some Apple “magic” in their TVs. Once more Apple can enter an existing market and show everyone how it’s done. Oh, they can also sell a product at a large enough profit margin to make it worth their time.
How this affects Education
I have mentioned before how Siri and her children will start to disrupt education. Imagine a child watching TV, pausing the show and asking Siri a question. Siri can then download an interactive lesson on the topic. Our world is becoming embedded with information and smarts. We have talked to our TVs for generations. Now they will start talking back.
So while I don’t usually make predictions on specific things like this I am predicting that Apple is going to release a TV. See the article below for more rumors.