In an interview with Brian Williams (also see the first part of the interview) on NBC’s Rock Center this past December, Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook was asked what his company could do for television watching. Cook responded, “It is a market that we see that has been left behind. It’s an area of intense interest.”
After writing about my experience trying to get live TV on my computer, I would agree that the television market has been left behind other technology. Today, the television experience is largely cluttered with numerous set-top boxes, cable boxes, video players, and more. While each of these devices serve a function, there aren’t many televisions or computer devices that seek to solve all of the problems associated with the television watching and unify the experience. I had to spend a great deal of time to complete what I would have thought would have been a reality easy task (watching television on my computer).
The future of television may be brighter. In the future, someone will make televisions that are more fully featured, more like computers. People will be able to watch online videos, cable television, play games, and more on one device. These devices will work with other devices, like computers, phones and tablets. Because people watch television largely for leisure, it will have to be easy to use.
Getting cable providers to play along with a revolutionary new device might be difficult. In the past, cable companies have managed their own cable boxes, and the may be hesitant to give up control to a device made by another entity. This article explains some of the other challenges that building the next-generation television will entail, as well as more about Apple and others past work in the television market. As technology improves, television companies will see the benefit of offering their content on newer devices.
While a revolutionary new television product that integrated a previously disparate and complex experience would certainly be welcome by most consumers, I do worry a bit about the impact it could have on local broadcasters and content producers. We need local television and diverse viewpoints to keep us informed about the community around us. A new product, with a more universal focus, could emphasize more national content options, as opposed to local and unique shows. It is important that both local and national content be available for viewers. I would hope a new device would not take advantage of or limit the voice of content producers in any way.
Overall, I’m glad to hear that Apple and others are working on the future of television. I’m looking forward to when watching television programming is a more cohesive experience.