|apple tv, from the official site|
i know i write a lot about how things have changed from back in the days of yore to the current digital age we live in. call me slightly nostalgic. i’ve covered gaming, computing, and to some extent social communication. but that’s what technology is all about – catalyzing change in the way we live our everyday lives. since early on, the theme throughout the history of consumer tech and gadgetry has always been “better, smaller, faster” and tech companies have delivered (the exception of course is the television: the bigger the better as far as i’m concerned). another common theme that has threaded itself through consumer tech is the concept of “on demand.” it’s just in our nature – why wait for things when we have the ability to have it now? why can’t we do things on our schedule? where this has really taken hold above all other areas is tv and movies. tivo really took off when it was first introduced, and the concept was so powerful that similar components have been added to DVR boxes from cable companies. companies like netflix that provide movies on their customers’ schedules have taken a solid bite out of blockbuster, hollywood video, and all of those other video stores you see closing up shop. and if regular netflix isn’t fast enough, sometimes it can be streamed from the web! hell, i can watch movies and tv episodes on my xbox360 and playstation3. and what about the internet en masse? youtube? broadcast channel recasts? hulu? it doesn’t get more on demand than that. and we love it. it’s become part of our cluture. cashier taking too long? go to the self checkout. that’s just how we roll these days. in addition to instant gratification this sort of thing gives the customer what they need to want to come back for more – some sort of feeling of empowerment.
and now the battle for your living room begins to unfold. recently, many are throwing their hats into the metaphorical ring of on demand media on your tv. this used to be something confined to just cable providers, like comcast and verizon for example (and increasingly, game consoles), but these days you can rent episodes of tv shows for 99 cents each from apple tv and their ilk. amazon is taking it a step further by letting you keep episodes permanently for 99 cents each. even tivo is coming back with a vengeance, adding hulu plus to their lineup of offerings on their hardware boxes, and stuff like the boxee box is showing some promise too. but, as they are the two big names in industry right now, in the midst of a very public war in the mobile realm, most of the scrutiny is going to be on apple tv and google tv. so what’s the difference? i took a look to at least provide some at-a-glance details between them.
|logitech revue with google tv, from the official site|
as is the case with all apple devices, the apple tv has a lot of proprietary stuff involved. their hardware and device guts, will of course, be restricted to apple. your rentals and on-demand selections will allow you to run netflix, but otherwise you’ll primarily going through itunes to get your stuff. but that’s not to say it’s a bad device, it’s actually a handy little box. the apple tv has some cool features, like integration with iphone and ipad devices, rotten tomatoes reviews for movies before you rent, flickr for photo sharing in HD, and of course, itunes. it also will allow you to retain tv shows you rent for 30 days, then give you 48 hours of viewing once you hit play. at $99, it’s a valid choice for users who aren’t huge tv and movie watchers, and just want something simple to use their living room media centers to stream music and video.
the problem for apple is, in my opinion anyway, that google’s device just looks better for users who are more demanding. while taking the product tour on google’s page, the entire interface felt like a massive version of my droid x interface (which makes sense as it runs android), which i very much like using, and it integrates with your cable box or satellite service. and it also supports apps, which somehow was absent from apple’s unit, even though the “app” is what was responsible (in my opinion at least) for a lot of apple’s success with the iphone, ipod touch, and ipad devices. apps can range from using your android device as a remote control or “flinging” video from it to your television. according to google, third party developers will be able to make and sell apps as early as next year. google tv also has hardware partners in sony and logitech, so there’s going to be some variations on what kind of living room-esque hardware you’ll see coming bundled with google tv in tow, instead of a standalone box. for the discerning user who heavily uses media and wants a unified media experience with all of their devices this is the route to go.
expect this to be a big area of development for media. it can be said that consumer tech companies are no longer interested (relatively interested, before you jump all over me for this one) in direct sales dollars. now don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that they don’t like money. instead, the competition has become a race for pure percentages of their consumers’ lives. the battle for your time while moving from point A to point B is still raging with smartphones and other mobile devices. and the next battlefield is your living room.