'A' Is For 'Television'

If Apple’s impact on the mobile phone industry is duplicated – even partially – when Apple enters the world of television displays, then cable and broadcast networks, as well as traditional content creators, have reason to be concerned.  I’m increasingly convinced that they don’t see what’s coming.

Not only is the game being changed, it’s being renamed without changing a letter.

The hidden genius of the iPhone was its ability to disarm by virtue of its name.  What better way for a wolf to infiltrate the flock’s market, than to camouflage itself with one of the oldest and most ubiquitous technology form factors in the world?


The iPhone is a phone primarily because we insist on calling it one, and Apple is more than happy to let us do so.  The name “iPhone” only serves to continue the façade (further aided by the fact that actual telephone calls can be initiated from the device, should one choose to do so).



Accordingly, I expect that Apple’s rumored product foray into television will likely contain the letters “TV” or even “television” in its name.  And, sheep that we are, I fully expect that we will continue to call them “televisions.”

But of course, the Apple Television will not be a television at all.  And this battle isn’t going to be a hardware play, either. 

The Apple Television will do to the living room, what the iPhone has done to the palm.  This will be, as they say, a “real estate play.”  And just as smartphones have started dominating the space between wrist and fingertip, Apple will quickly start owning the heart of the family room.

Much like the Kmart shells that litter the four-lane feeders across our now barely fruited plains, yesterday’s televisions have left millions of gaping holes within wall units and armoires, that are desperate to be filled.  Thinner displays may do a nice job cloaking the vertical surfaces with HD imagery, but the chasms behind these screens are destined to be more than breeding grounds for dust bunnies.

Look for residential data centers (“little iron?”) to fill these gaps soon, and recognize that these home-friendly, extremely powerful devices will speak – often natively – to the iOS devises that eagerly await the pilgrimage.

Sure, there’s a chance I’m too close to this.  Having owned and operated one of the first Savant dealerships in Florida for several years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the residential and commercial control industry be completely turned upside down by a once small company who “talked Apple,” and used the army of already-deployed Apple devices to presell Savant into living rooms, board4ooms, and technology closets worldwide.

I have reason – but no tangible evidence – to believe that the Apple Television will instantly become the communication hub of the home, welcomed home by the already-embedded sleeper cells of adoring small screens.  The Apple Television has the potential to serve as the standard bearer for the “public screen”: the single large television screen that dominates public places (at home, or out), while also distributing, supporting, collecting, and personalizing content and data to myriad, proximal “private screens.” 

It’s these private screens – especially those that act nearly instantaneously (read: “intuitively”) because they natively speak with the public screen – that will disrupt the existing television paradigm. 

The public screen will be the jumping off point for a roomful – or shall I say, an audience –   of private, personalized experiences captured within the nearby private screens.

Inside and behind the public screen, look for WiFi hotspots, hard drives, firewalls, display cards, motion-sensing cameras, smart switches, PBXs, and onboard software and processors, doing far more than controlling the look and feel of what hits the private screen.

Like most television sales, the profit will likely NOT be in the sale of the public screens; look for the Kindle model to prevail here.  Trillions, however, will be harvested from the micro-content – and resulting data and ecommerce – that flows between the public screens, and the “phones,” tablets and other private screens that wirelessly tether with the public screen.

So I ask - What does this “public/private” future mean to television networks and television content creators, seeking to thrive in the new paradigm?  And, can Nielsen even begin to consider how it will measure every screen, when the network’s last meter is housed (and owned) by consumers – and controlled, quite literally, by Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google?

I’ve got some ideas that I will share in my next posts.  Care to weigh in first?

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