Big Screen Monitors for Apple’s iTV
I finally had a chance this week to plug my Mac Powerbook into my father’s new LCD 1080i HDTV. I had ordered a $30 DVI-to- HDMI video cable online (to avoid the $100 price tag for one at Circuit City) and when it arrived I tried it with my brother-in-law’s Plasma HDTV. The result was not too impressive (too smeary and unstable). On my father’s LCD HDTV, however, the results were amazing. His new TV is also a huge computer screen with near-perfect pictures. I played an iPhoto slide show (though no music through the HDMI cable. I needed separate audio cable for that.). And I was ready to launch into a Keynote (Mac’s PowerPoint) economics presentation until significant audience resistance arose.
Still, all these thousands of HDTV entering homes are also external monitors for Apple computer to bring into their iLife network (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iEtc.). The popular tech news media continues to think of Apple as an iPod and iTunes company, the real story will be Apple’s effective marriage of iLife (and iTV) with HDTVs.
I videotaped my nieces’ basketball game yesterday (at least when they were on the court). In a few minutes (about 20 minutes over playing time) that game can become a DVD with nice transitions between scenes. Or I can post it online so my sister and father can play it on their computers. My father would just sputter if I suggested he download it to watch on his computer. But if he could click a few buttons and play it on his 37″ HDTV, well that could work. The video and pictures could download to the hard drives of any Mac computer or soon to Apple’s new iTV. Jobs announced iTV in September (http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/Home/21133BEF-61B4-40C1-A976-5C1360E60694.html) and we will learn more in the Big Show (Jobs’ MacWorld keynote on Jan. 9th).
I would argue that the big iTV value is not storing or watching movies. We have DVD players for that and Hi-Def. movies require a lot of bandwidth and hard drive space. Do we need or want better technology for watching more movies? I think instead, the fact that hundreds of thousands are purchasing 42″ computer screens for their living room (that they think of as TVs) opens the door for families to vastly expand their home entertainment options. The can play slideshows with music of beautiful pictures from around the world, from their vacations, from Google Earth, from rainforests, mountains, anywhere. Instead of a 42″ dark screen hogging a living room wall when the TV is off, great pictures can be featured that change every minute, hour, or day.
Most people may not now have a collection of high quality pictures organized with transitions to show with music on their new HDTVs. But they have digital cameras and soon they (or their children) may have Apple computers and skills to assemble personal family entertainment. So rather than watching Hollywood families live their lives, we can spend at least some watching our own, and creating our own living-room windows on the world.
Of course I have no idea if all this will push Apple stock prices up still further, or whether the outlandishly high expectations of Apple fanatics (like me) have already push Apple stock too high. Still, I can’t help but think the iPod was only the beginning, and only for the kids and young people. Older adults spend more time in front of their TVs, and much more time complaining about the horrendous content delivered from Hollywood and even from NFL, NBA, corporate fruit bowls, etc. Maybe they would rather watch pictures and video from their kids and grandkids basketball games than overproduced NBA and rampages?