It needs to be the hub of the home theater — look at what Microsoft is doing with Xbox 360 (I love mine, by the way. Microsoft needs Blu-ray, too).
Right now, it’s a stub on the home theater, tied to another mac. It needs to become the central player in the home theater, more like a console, less like an iPod. We’re not THAT far from where a computing system tied to the television is what ties all of the other devices in the home together. Apple TV has to decide to be that computing system, or it’ll be just another peripheral tied to something.
Right now, microsoft and the Xbox 360 is closest to what I want. I’ve been considering upgrading the DVD player to a blu-ray. originally thinking about a Playstation 3 (not a bad investment once you decide you’re buying a blu-ray anyway), but after Microsoft announced the netflix deal, I’m waiting again; rather see Xbox 360 add a blu-ray and buy a second blu-ray for the TV set than buy a PS3, and Playstation’s home theater strategy doesn’t impress me.
The next year is going to see massive changes in this space, a lot of maturing, really fast. and two years from now, the fight will be basically over. Here’s hoping we see Apple TV updates for the holiday market, if Steve waits for MacWorld in January, he may be too late.
That’s what I wrote — in 2008. It’s now 2012, and Microsoft has been building the Xbox into a really interesting media center, and Microsoft’s new announcements show that this is the year that the fight for the living room — which platforms and which companies are going to dominate the fight to own the living room — finally happens.
Why has it taken so long? It takes convincing the media-creating companies to go along, and that’s been a long, involved process. And online video takes a lot of bandwidth, and in the U.S., adoption of high speed broadband has trailed other developed countries, and companies service consumer broadband have implemented limits and caps. Since most homes are served their internet by their cable company, is it any surprise those companies aren’t in a hurry to make it easy for companies like Apple or MIcrosoft to disrupt their high margin cable-TV businesses?
But it’s happening, slowly but surely. Microsoft has made it clear it’s gearing up for the fight. All of the rumors indicate that this year’s WWDC is when Apple will remove the “just a hobby” label from Apple TV. Sony and Google have both been pushing their platforms into this space with less enthusiasm.
What’s clear is that this space is finally going to get very, very interesting. And right now, it’s gearing up to be a dog fight between two old friend-foes: Apple and Microsoft. And it wasn’t that long ago that both of their platforms (Apple TV and Xbox 360) were declared failures by the pundits with no long-term vision. Fortunately, both companies were willing to let things mature as they needed to, not with the geek-pundit-demanded speeds.
I found myself pondering whether I should get an XBOX as a media center (my original XBOX was retired a while back because I never turned it on, since I just don’t have that much time or interest for hard core gaming — now, I use parallels and use the window’s version of games that aren’t written for Mac or IOS). Then I realized any decision on this had to wait for WWDC and what Apple might say, but it’s clear we’re almost at the point where I can make decisions about the next generation of the in-house entertainment suite.
right now, the plans between now and the end of the year are leaning towards a broadband speed upgrade, bringing in a computer to act as hub for the home media platform (either an iMac or a Mac Mini; leaning towards the iMac as my new Lightroom processing system as well), upgrading the DirecTV system since the existing hardware’s a bit long in the tooth (first ten HD receivers), and making a choice about which platform will drive the home media onto the screens, Apple or Xbox. And I fully expect this to be my last DirecTV upgrade, although I don’t see any way I’m going to cut those cables for the next few years, unless Apple really, really surprises me.
That’s all subject to change, of course. But I do believe the directions this is all headed are being set, at E3 with Microsoft, and soon, with Apple at WWDC. And I’m fascinated watching this all come together.