Apple TV: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of
I think instead that the product and its support will be a mildly positive addition to the company's fleet of slick personal technology.
The stock will sink immediately as disappointed investors looking for surprising vision get angry and try to walk away. But they won't walk away. On the whole, the Apple story is still too compelling.
In the end, most investors will nod and voice approval, however muted, like Saturday night party goers at a Sunday morning church service. Like Republicans at President Obama's State of the Union speech.
But let's, for a moment, suppose I'm wrong about that. Let's say the magic appears. What kind of shape would that take?
Hypothetically -- only hypothetically, mind you -- if you wanted to make iTV not a simple new gadget but a completely disruptive suite of business strategies, this is what you could do:
1. Hardware: A TV device that builds on Apple's successful interfaces, is slim and in one piece (that is, any control box is built into the screen) with no DVD slot or other inputs, only Internet connectivity. The only way to put your content on the device or record content is through a dedicated Apple Web site portal or hookup to your computer.
2. Distribution Platform : The Web site lets anyone with content upload it to be sold and viewed by all the world. This would take the functionality of the best video sites, like YouTube, and make it a potentially profitable affair, in the same way iTunes captured much of the functionality of Napster-style sharing sites and turned it into a dependable revenue stream.
3. Content Pipeline : Deals to generate original content for that platform, only viewable on the Apple TV. The more the merrier.
4. High-Profile Exclusives : Among those deals should be exclusive contracts with everyone who has ever screened successful films at Sundance and the Sundance Channel itself, plus a handful of big directors who want to screen smaller projects or have agreed to produce a series or two, a couple of renegade cable-stuffers such as perhaps Discover and SyFy and a cartoon channel, in an agreement with Walt Disney (DIS) . Add into that agreements for the music videos already available through iTunes.
5. Pricing: Viewers would pay for each piece, with optional packages available. Prices would vary depending on the content, with some set standard for a movie-length, a one-hour show and a half-hour show.
With all that in place at the outset, Apple could compete with TV as know it. It could completely disrupt the home viewing space in five years, dominate it in 10.