With the launch of the newest edition of the iPhone and the constant rumors of a smaller iPad to launch, the Apple TV continues to get scant tech media attention. For me, the possibility that Apple would open up its "hobby", the Apple TV, to third party apps was always the most exciting thing on the digital media horizon.
In other words, I've been beating this drum to death.
Brian Barrett today, writing for Gizmodo, speculates on the meaning of the recent appearance of Hulu, Amazon and Sky Now TV (UK) on the Apple TV. Barrett does an excellent job of rehashing the hows and whys of each launch and then asks the big question: why are they appearing now, what has changed?
"Why would Apple suddenly agree to put Amazon Instant Video and Sky Now on the iPad and Hulu Plus on Apple TV? Because Apple TV is getting serious, and Apple's laying the groundwork for it to finally have apps," Barrett writes. And by "apps" he clearly means third party apps.
"Why would Apple concede a large chunk of that content cash by allowing competitive products into the fold? Because it knows it's chasing bigger game," Barratt concludes.
Barratt then goes on to lay out the numbers.
Since I don't aggregate (read: steal) other people's content I would encourage you to read the entire post, it's worth it.
As I've written in the past, for many media companies, the app-ification of the television would be a revolution in both publishing and television itself. The cable and satellite companies know this is coming, as do the television set makers – in fact, they are leading the charge to a certain degree, if only reluctantly.
The Apple TV still does not have the market penetration that, say, the iPad has. But unlike a tablet, or especially an iPhone, the Apple TV doesn't need that kind of sales numbers.
Where as total users is the criteria for judging most tech products, the measure for success in this area is household penetration. One Apple TV, located in the family room, is worth two or three iPhone sales – at least when measuring reach.
I think even Barrett is not 100 percent sure that the recent moves equate to the opening up of third party apps on the Apple TV. But he sure seems as excited about the prospect as I am.