The Apple TV Countdown

I am on vacation and haven’t been writing about all the TV stuff I would ordinarily have been. I have kept an eye on Twitter, and read an article here and there. Apologies for not listening to all the podcasts, and reading all the things, but there are a couple words I would like to arrange before the event.


The most surprising part of this is the rumored focus on gaming. I had guessed early on that TVKit would more likely be for creating media apps than for games (this still might be the case, and GameKit could be expanded to include the TV functions, but that’s splitting hairs). The noise makes it seem very likely that there will be several games demos. Mea culpa.

There is some strange trepidation in the tweets I’ve read from people who are serious about games, along with some outright denial, and defensive posturing, over whether or not Apple “can” and “should” do anything games related. I have to assume these reactions are mostly tied to fears gamers have over people that aren’t serious about games entering the game space. Whether that’s Apple as a company, or common folk buying an Apple TV to play games. I’m just going to outright dismiss those concerns. Almost nothing Apple demos on stage, game wise, ever really turns into anything huge. Developers usually find fun games to make much later. Infinity Blade, and cherry blossoms, and fish, etc. Humorously, Apple occasionally ropes EA into showing off some garbage. I assume they feel it helps lend credibility to their game demos.

None of that has ever inhibited people from playing games on iOS devices, or served as much of a prediction about how games would work even a few months after hardware and software releases.

People coming down hard on whether or not the Apple TV will work as a games console should read this terrible piece in Variety where the writer discounts Apple’s abilities because there is no OTT service to prove how serious Apple is about content. That kind of writing is mostly how all the gamers writing about Apple read to me. (That might be an extreme example since that Variety piece is just so bad.)

It’s worth circling back to the video content discussion, and that Variety piece, because it’s worth highlighting how myopic it is.

Launching a box without a new content service offering doesn’t surprise me at all, given that I’ve been arguing that for months. (Seriously, Tim, get in touch.)

I still expect third party apps for content streaming services to be demoed at the event. Perhaps a mention of HBO subscriptions? It is inevitable that someone will demonstrate something sports related. MLB runs many of the streaming services for other companies (including non-sports HBO, as well as other sports like the NFL). I don’t much care for sports, but they are undeniably a significant force, especially when it comes to adopting new technology. So while there’s no OTT with ESPN bundled with local broadcast affiliates, there will likely be something.

I don’t know if Apple will demonstrate anything for international customers at the event as I’m not sure how global the initial device launch is.


Why launch without every little thing? Why not wait forever for OTT? Because selling devices that can use an OTT service later makes for great leverage in the neverending negotiations. The networks and studios have no real deadline to adopt Apple’s terms. No urgency. They will continue their slow, downward spiral because it still seems like the most stable option to them.

Chicken and egg. There aren’t enough Apple TV customers to make Apple’s OTT terms worthwhile, and you can’t sell Apple TV’s that only offer non-existent OTT as a selling feature. You offer gaming and other media apps, sell the Apple TVs, then you have enough customers to make OTT worthwhile.

4K Video

I had already guessed there would be no 4K video way back when because there simply isn’t the inventory of available UHD remasters, and studios would likely demand increased prices. I do expect an eventual shift in the iTunes Store, just not now.

The next iPhone recording “4K” video presents an awkward little dance since the TV won’t have 4K playback, and nothing Apple makes actually has 1:1 pixels with UHD. Even the theoretical 4K iMac would scale the video up. All other models, beside the 4K and 5K iMacs will scale the video down. Including home movies played back on the new Apple TV.


I appear to also be wrong about Siri. Many moons ago, Dan Moren wrote a piece for Six Colors about his wish for Siri on the Apple TV. I was, of course, uncharacteristically pessimistic about Siri, and wrote how I’d rather have a remote with Touch ID. Guess I owe Dan Moren a drink or something? Or pistols at dawn? I can never remember which.

The event, which will transpire before anyone probably reads this, will surely be interesting.

Event Space

Did it occur to anyone that the space is so big because offering hands-on TV demos takes a lot of room? Especially TV demos with Siri which necessitate some level of noise control? The place is probably full of little rooms with TVs.

I wonder what TV panel Apple will have on display? I doubt it will be Samsung. It would be pretty funny if they went through a lot of trouble to obscure the manufacturers with some black tape. Hehe.

2015-09-09 02:00:00

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