Now, I know the beauty of Apple products, of which i own several, is they really do just plug and play. They come ready to just hook up and start rolling from the word go and so amplifying my iPad or iPhone screen to play back pictures and movies on a 48" screen holds obvious appeal. As a conduit between the small screen and the large screen, the appeal is obvious, albeit with a cheaper alternative through a diminutive Chromecast.
However, a normally good starting point is to assume that content is king and so, by themselves, neither Apple TV nor Chromecast bring much to the party, other than access to apps which allow content to be streamed to the large screen. At least the Fire TV stick gives Prime customers direct access to Amazon's library of movies and tv shows. Plus, given that this is the year where a tipping point is expected to be reached, and more than half of all tvs sold in the UK are expected to be Smart TVs, is simply providing access to apps that a tv already has access to actually enough?
Surely it's all about content, such as the on-demand box sets and catch-up services already provided by Sky to its 11m UK digital subscribers? Or the catch-up apps that Sky and cable television subscribers already get, as does any owner of a Smart TV, connected to the internet.
So I have to be completely honest -- an Apple TV box is a nice thing to have to get a video of the kids blowing out birthday candles on a large screen. When it comes to entertainment, though, I'm flummoxed. Sure, there are the aforementioned apps, but these already exist, and there's a new path to buying or renting movies from Apple which Sky subscribers already have open to them. Apple made a big play about Siri voice search, but that's already available on my Samsung Smart TV -- and the same goes for an Amazon Fire TV stick, with optional remote control.
People don't turn on a television to be wowed by the features of the box, they want to be entertained, and that only happens with quality content. For anyone with Sky or a Smart TV, or both, they already have access to news apps, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime among many other features, not to mention a catalogue of movies and shows to stream that any other entertainment provider would kill for.
So the excitement around the revamped Apple TV could be a sign that the iPhone has reached a level of maturity that there is very little to talk about when a new one is launched, hence more attention lands on television announcements that would not previously have raised an eyelid.
I can't help but wonder, wouldn't it just be easier for consumers if Apple launched an iTunes app which was made available for Smart TVs? That way owners could just log on and stream movies and shows through an app, like any other broadcaster. I realise this would mean the Apple TV box has little of a point but, to come back to my original question, I really don't see any game-changing point to it right now. Do you?