There is a big difference between consumer interest and consumer adoption. People expressed interest in VoIP for years, but it never reached any kind of mass adoption until operators threw it into their triple-play bundles. Same with TiVo. Lots of people talked about how great it was, but DVRs got no real traction until the cable companies rolled out DVR set-tops. Lack of adoption doesn’t diminish great technology or great execution of an idea, but it does put a kink in business plans.
Michael Gartenberg, who I respect greatly and who has access to gobs of primary research over at Jupiter, has a detailed post on Apple’s opportunity to deliver on consumers’ desire to get content from the PC to the TV. He believes Apple can make the leap from consumer interest to consumer adoption with the Apple TV. He may be right. But I can think of a few reasons he may also be wrong.
- Most video that is unique to the Internet (think user-generated content) is not high quality, and therefore isn’t going to look great on a TV. Are small-screen clips going to inspire people to spend money for big-screen availability?
- Professional video content is already available from a number of sources (not just the Internet), and consumers don’t have to buy any hardware (i.e. be anything but lazy couch potatoes) in order to watch it on their TVs. It comes to them already through cable, satellite, telecom, even Netflix.
- Apple TV still requires a computer. When you can do everything with just a TV remote, I think consumers will find streaming from the Web more compelling.
I don’t want to underestimate Apple, but I think it has a hefty challenge ahead of it. That said, check out Gartenberg’s post. He makes a lot of good points, not least of which is that we have to find a way to sort out the home network. Also check out my earlier conversation with Motorola’s Jeff Binder on the topic.