In a nutshell, yes. But, I think it’ll take another 1 to 1.5 years. Why? Because the Apple TV only meets part of our needs as an entertainment device/media extender. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great first generation product (and, apparently, is selling very well) but it leaves a lot to be desired.
If Apple makes the following scenario a reality, then I think Apple will dominate our living rooms and sell more Macs but Apple will need to introduce the following products:
- The next gen Apple TV (let’s call it AppleTV 2.0)
- Standalone iPod/iPhone docking stations that will wirelessly sync to iTunes/Apple TV and charge the device
- DVR software for the Apple TV that can record HD content
- Updated synchronization software to sync the content between a Mac, iPod/iPhone, and Apple TV.
Synchronization & Content Portability
I come home from work, wake-up my Mac and connect my iPod and/or iPhone (or dock it in a standalone docking station). Upon doing so,
the Apple ‘Media Synchronization’ software launches and begins sync’ing my music, iTunes shows & movies, and all of the newly recorded content on my Apple TV. All video content (HD and SD), that was recorded by the Apple TV using Apple’s ‘DVR’ software was automatically re-encoded into an iPod/iPhone-friendly format immediately after the shows were recorded and were saved as separate files (also, only the content I chose to be sync’ed to my iPod/iPhone were automatically re-encoded so i never have to worry about nor wait for video files to be re-encoded for my iPod/iPhone.). All content on my Apple TV and my Mac are automatically kept in-sync (either via 100/1000 ethernet or wireless 802.11g/n). This way, I will always have my music & video content accessible at anytime, any place, and on any Apple device (Mac, Apple TV, and iPod/iPhone).
I will also have a dock sitting on my night stand for my iPod/iPhone so I can dock it before going to bed and have it charged and wirelessly synchronize all of my music & video content from my Mac and Apple TV. This way, I can also charge ‘n sync my iPod/iPhone w/o being tethered to my Mac.
Managing & Acquiring Content
After my iPod/iPhone has finished synchronizing, I launch my Apple ‘DVR’ software on my Mac (or I can just do this in my living room with the Apple TV) so I can see what shows were recorded on the Apple TV, view scheduled recordings, manage/create new recordings, etc. In addition, I can also perform all of these functions via any web browser.
When purchasing content from the iTunes Store, I am able to purchase both SD and HD versions of each movie or TV show. For any content that was not purchased from the iTunes Store or recorded by my Apple TV (i.e., DVDs, HD-DVDs, digital videos purchased from the Xbox Live Marketplace, other digital videos on my Mac, etc.), I can easily add them to my ‘Apple digital library’ so they can also be viewed via any of the mentioned devices. In other words, I’m not locked into only using iTunes-purchased content!
Watching my Content
So, now that I’ve come home and synchronized my iPod/iPhone by docking it, I eat dinner. After eating dinner and doing my usual nightly tasks, I sit down in my living/media room and start watching my pre-recorded HD TV shows/movies via my Apple TV with full Dolby Digital surround sound. If I don’t finish watching my show, I can always watch it the following day on my iPod/iPhone while sitting at the airport waiting for my flight. Oh, and the best part is, when I choose to watch the show, my iPod/iPhone knows where I stopped watching it on my Apple TV and asks me if I want to resume playback from where I last stopped or if I want to watch the show from the beginning.
The scenario and features that I’ve described can easily be accomplished and Apple is the perfect company to deliver this. If they do, they will be the 800-pound gorilla in our living rooms and will have the envy of Microsoft for years to come (since Msft has been trying to make in-roads into our living rooms for years in order to sell more Windows products). This will also get a lot of people to buy or switch to the Mac. The key to this will be the software that ties everything together and it will have to be compatible with Windows XP and Vista.
What do you think? What’s your ideal scenario?
Here’s to wishing Apple delivers this by the end of 2007! 😀
Update: (2/19/2007) Added a list of new/updated products that Apple would need to release to make this scenario a reality.