5by5 | The Critical Path #40: Awaiting the Big Bang

This week, Horace follows up on his discussion of automobiles and road infrastructure by talking about how road networks were rebuilt in European countries to accommodate cycling. That leads to hints about the challenge of re-building energy infrastructure to support new power train technologies. We talk about RIM’s post-trauma life expectancy. Finally He and Dan also analyze comments made by Tim Cook at the recent D10 conference about Apple TV and disruption of the entertainment industry.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #40: Awaiting the Big Bang.

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  • Chris

    This podcast is another piece in the puzzle. The message I received is that just as Apple was able to put a computer into something phone-sized, they have the opportunity to put a computer into something that is TV-sized. Just as the IPhone is a small computer that happens to have a phone, the new TV will be a large computer that happens to have a TV.

    This leads me to a few observations that may seem banal to others who have already thought this through, but I am having them for the first time:

    1. Any new Apple TV will probably be very innovative with applications Apple has developed on its own. But as has been the case with the iPhone, the App Store will eventually become a major differentiator. It is likely that app developers will be able to invent different uses for the TV that take advantage of the interface unique to this device, which is a larger screen and possibly a motion detector–and who knows what else.

    2. The last two podcasts about distribution systems have made me appreciate more and more the importance Apple ecosystem, which is part of the system of getting content onto the device. This is why analysts that are predicting the imminent decline of the iPhone are premature by many years. As developers continuously create new apps that take advantage of newer, more powerful versions of hardware, Apple can continue to escape up the value chain with new version of the iPhone that has better processors and batteries that can still get better. But its really as much up to app developers to innovate with software, as it is for Apple to innovate with hardware.

    3. Just as Apple and Samsung continue to develop more powerful phones that can run more powerful apps, there is an opportunity for other phone makers and makers of operating systems to develop phones that do not need much computing power, that run only web apps. And this is what I see with any future phone that only runs Google’s Chrome browser and Baidu’s recent announcement about their desire to create a new OS that runs only web apps. And this could be the future. It’s possible that most of the apps we use one day will be web apps.

    • Disagree with point #3. Native apps continue to be the differentiator and reason for the smartphone ecosystem. Web apps even with 1 gigahertz processors on smartphones are still generic compared to native apps. Web apps will get there, but native apps will still be more nimble, take advantage of the OS feature set, and a custom fit for the smartphone. I think it is a mistake for companies to go down the web path, when their competitors go the native path… and out differentiate them.

      • Chris

        Baidu’s thinking, I think, is to serve the underserved–the nonconsumer. And for those in the developing world, a phone with a browser will be good enough. It stands to reason, then that there will be some developers who are incentivized to enter this market, which won’t necessarily be the smartphone market, but better than the feature phone market. To Baidu’s thinking, these consumers web apps may be acceptable.

  • Matthew Gunson

    Apple TV has actually improved substantially since I got mine in December (Christmas gift). On Christmas day it was almost useless. AirPlay didn’t work well, youtube clips took forever to load and I never even attempted to buy/rent any movies through iTunes because of the horrendous buffering/download time. After the first update to the software, I noticed much better functionality of AirPlay. I am a cable cutter, so this is a HUGE feature for me. I could now watch programs through aps on my iPad with little problem. A second software update improved it even further. Recently we subscribed to Netflix which works flawlessly and now we are using ATV all the time. My kids are completely satisfied with Netflix’s good enough kids programs and there is enough there for my wife and I to fill what little time we can give to watching TV. I will soon subscribe to the MLB app and be able to watch any baseball game I want.

    To me this is a highly disruptive consumer behavior. I’m not sure how many more consumers will choose to use the device the way I do, but I have no desire to pay a cable bill of $80-$120/mo. that over delivers like almost no other product.

    And I’ve managed to do all this on a 3mbps data connection.

    So as Horace mentioned, it’s likely true that most ATV users don’t use it this way, but I think it just might be the way that Apple ultimately intends it to be used, because it would completely bring down the Cable industry. If they can leverage their success in the music business and their 150 million iTunes subscribers to get favorable content deals, Cable and Satelite providers will be in big trouble if they can not change their business models.

  • Chris

    I am so very curious about this new t v. Among other things, what will be the splash screen, that is, the first screen seen when you turn it on? The last channel/app?