You can’t swing a coaxial cable these days without hitting a pundit or analyst who says that, as sure as there’s some version of CSI on right now, Apple’s going to make a TV set.
Possibly this is because even writing about it is a honeytrap, as former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée found. Gassée started out dubious, laying down the numerous difficulties with this idea…and ended up thinking Apple may do it.
I used to think product size, carriers and the rapid obsolescence of the integrated computer made an Apple TV set an impossible dream. I’m not so sure anymore.
The Macalope, too, was skeptical at first. Where’s the value? They make the cables pluggier? Channel surfing more mind-numbing? Stoopid Apple fans! You think Apple can improve anything! The TV?! It’s already so simple! You plug it in and it works! After you figure out which ports to use. And then run through the channel set-up. And set your devices to the right screen resolution. And you have to decide which connection you want to use your, OK, look, let me start over…
See, you’re not thinking this through if you really think there’s no room for improvement in this process—certainly from an interface perspective. The Macalope has two HDTVs, an LG and a Samsung, and he likes the picture on both quite a bit. While the interface on the LG is slightly better (and more recent) than the Samsung, both can best be described by one unifying theme: “We hate our customers.”
The Macalope remembers the last frustrating interfaces he was forced to deal with. They ran the Sony-Ericsson T616 and Motorola Razr, the two phones he had before the iPhone came out.
Indeed, reading Gassée’s list of difficulties now reminds the Macalope of the arguments against the iPhone. “There’s too much institutional power! No one can solve the technical problems! It’s a mature market!”
And look how that turned out.
Gassée envisions a screen that has an Apple TV-like component that delivers content—including games—and is removable for servicing and upgrading. The Macalope’s not really going to venture a guess as to how it might work, he just thinks there’s plenty of room to apply some Apple brainpower to the problem.
The horny one is slightly less sanguine about the TV than he was the iPhone, but where he once scoffed, he’s now giving slightly better than even odds. Yes, there are a lot of problems that need to be solved, but the Macalope doesn’t really see where they’re that much bigger than the ones that supposedly were going to prevent the iPhone’s birth. Maybe it comes out for Comcast at first, like the iPhone with AT&T. Whatever it is, there’s an Apple way to make this work.
And, consequently, drive pundits insane. Which is always a good time.
[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]