The new iteration of the Apple TV device was released upon the eager public last week, a full four weeks after Steve Jobs had announced it at the September 1st Apple keynote event, and in time to honor Jobs’ promise that users would have their hands on it before the end of September. But with this launch, there are clues that Apple launched the device earlier than even they had anticipated, probably so they would gain an advantage over Google TV. Let’s look at the evidence…
The new Apple TV was launched with a user interface that was remarkably similar to the one found in the first generation Apple TV, except, that is has been built from the ground up using the iOS software that Apple has been carefully shepherding into the majority of their mobile devices. Given the dramatic redesign of the hardware, it seems strange that Apple would choose not to redesign the software. Even more strange is that Apple are disguising the very well-designed iOS software to look like something else. this suggests that, while a new hardware design was apparently designed, engineered and prepared for release, there was not enough time before launch to complete a redesign of the UI. Small modifications of an existing UI seemed like a bit of a shortcut to reduce launch time.
Furthermore, teardowns have revealed that the Apple TV has up to 8GB of flash memory onboard, with an empty space adjacent to the flash memory that could apparently have been used for another 8GB for a total of 16GB. While this, in itself, is not unusual as buffering HD media streams would require a fair amount of storage space, it would suggest that this onboard storage could potentially be used as space for Apple TV apps. And while Steve Jobs has hinted that this could be something that would be incorporated in the future, it seems that it could have been done before launch.
Apple also seems to be struggling to get all of the major TV networks to sign up to their new rental model, something that could potentially impact upon the adoption and earning potential of the new device. Could agreements have been put in place with greater ease if Apple had not been up against a deadline? Who knows?
What is clear is that the Apple TV is a fantastic new revision of an existing concept in terms of hardware and viewing of cloud streamed media. But given the muted reception, enhanced only by the low price point and potential capabilities of the new device, will we see the Apple TV being purchased by the majority of users purely for the purposes of being jailbroken? The competition is getting hotter with the imminent release of Google TV and Apple will need to pull something out of the bag in the coming months to get consumers, and networks, excited about subscribing to the Apple TV model.