The future of Apple TV: TV Reimagined.
The way that TV’s are designed is from another era, the only thing we care
about is the content we want to watch, yet we’re forced to navigate it through a
decision making structure that makes no sense in the age of the Smart TV. This
is how TV’s will look in the next 3 years.
What helped Henry Ford create the car was forgetting everything about what existed before it.
What enabled Apple to create the iPhone was thinking of it as a personal communications tool
to access and share everything that mattered, not a phone.
This is the sort of “re:imagination” that we rarely see, but that changes our lives.
When we base our thinking on current paradigms we are affected to greatly by what’s been
done before, we follow conventions, we evolve towards the same goal, our latent memories
move us towards convergent thinking.
Forgetting everything brings change; Uber knew nothing about taxi’s, Chipotle knew nothing
about fast food, Airbnb had no idea about hospitality. Knowing what people dream about and
technology is a killer cocktail. Conventional wisdom is poison.
The Context of the new TV
What helped Henry Ford create the car was forgetting everything about what existed before it.
When we seek to redeﬁne what the Television should become we need to start afresh, forget the complex pipes
behind the scenes, forget the existing peripherals like remote controls, the existing menu systems, let’s start with
nothing but think of the context.
I think the context of the future we be a world with what I consider the pervasive web , we will live in a world with
our physical world overlaid by a continuous,fast, invisible lattice of data, the internet.
Within the internet will be every ﬁlm ever made, every piece of music, every news story, every notable image. It will
be the biggest cloud of content that one can imagine. In addition, the internet will become connective tissue to
allow us to speak with each other, or control other things that are connected, our cars, our fridges, our home
If there is a real world and a pervasive web around us, the devices we own become one of two things:
1) Devices that do things, items like fridges, vacuums, thermostats, heaters, locks, washing machines, items that
are all connected and controlled by a network, but are there as items to do.
2) Devices that are gateways or bridges - They are screens that become gateways to the pervasive web, screens
to all content, to each other and to control the network above.
We see this already a bit, we’ve cloud computing, where most services and storage is in the internet and our
relatively dumb computers merely access the web. We see it in our phones, which it’s easy to think of as a mini
gateway to music, video and to each other.
But we need to think less of individual items and more as an ecosystem of things that work together and in
partnerships with each other.
The Four Screen World.
I see the future as a personal ecosystem of 4 types of devices to bridge the real world and internet lattice, going up
• Smartwatches which become ultra-portable ways to bridge the real world and virtual world and remote controls
for other devices in our ecosystem. I see their use becoming limited, mainly for payments, recording more
personal data and for GPS like guidance through pulses. I see them not for content consumption, but more as
micro nuggets of contextual data to aid our lives. For warnings it’s about to rain, for telling us we’re late, for
notiﬁcations. ( I wrote about this before, and quite nicely predicted the Apple watch )
• Mobile Devices - which I guess we will still call anachronistically label “phones”, for accessing most things on the
go, ﬁnding things, being entertained, booking things, communication. Our most personal and portable access to
the pervasive web. The one we use most, but again for little snippets of information that are personal. This is
something I will call the Th’internet.
• Portable Large Screen - Something like the MacBook Air or Android tablets, this will be the device you use to
experience the internet in the richest, yet still personal fashion. You will use this device to do work, to consume
richer media on the go, the role of this device is most uncertain. Will “phones” get so good that this device
becomes less important?
• The Large Screen- A ﬁxed, huge screen in your home that acts as the main gateway to the internet, the main
gateway to home networks, the main access point for entertainment. This is the screen than the TV will become.
It’s important to note that these screens are not remotely disconnected, they all access the same content, in the
same way, with the same Operating system. Films will be consumed across all four, data will be matched across
every device, we will have one personal internet, these 4 screens work seamlessly together to provide different
views into the same world.
In addition we will see the internet of things created connected systems. We’ll have locks that are connected to
each other and to the web, fridges that are connected, thermostats,etc a modular structure that works together on
the same operating system.
The New Television
So the New TV won’t be anything to do with Television. Let’s forget the notion of a tuner, of “TV companies” of “TV
channels” of “TV schedules”, “Broadcasting”, “Cable”, “Satellite”, and their music equivalents, the “radio”, the
“radio frequency” etc. These words all will mean nothing.
There is the stuff we want to watch - which may be, ﬁlm, tv or videos- Watching TV.
There is the stuff we want to listen to - which will be music- Listening to Music
There are the games we want to play - Playing Games.
There is connecting with other people - Connecting to others.
And there is everything else we could possibly do on a large screen- Everything else.
Watching TV Now.
The current way to watch TV makes no sense, we care only about content, yet are forced only to think about the
Question one - What channel do we want to watch?
Our primary mechanism is by channel, which means we have to select from a stream of live shows that someone
who has never met me has decided may be interesting to me at that time, but that has curated it on a vague sense
of what that channel’s brand is. A more bizarre way to ﬁnd content can’t be imagined. TV Channels seem to be like
Newspaper’s, its curation we no longer need that will soon die. We read more news than ever, but the role of
someone packaging it for us is just redundant.
Question two - Do we want to watch something we’ve recorded?
If we decide we don’t want to watch a channel, our next forced choice is very odd, in the age of the DVR most
people have NO idea what is on their hard drive, it’s just a irrelevant way to think of what you may want to watch, it
makes NO sense in the world of on demand content.
Depending on whether you are on Verizon, Time Warner, Sky or a million other systems, we are always
faced with some completely odd choices for the next layers of search.
Do you want to pay for it?
Do you want to own it after, or just stream?
Do you want it to be “catch up TV”
Is it sports?
Is it new or recommended?
It is a ﬁlm or a TV show?
Watching TV Then.
The future TV will be entirely about content and nothing to do with pipes.
There will be a welcome screen that caters for three modes, it will feature a large search box, suggested content
tiles and an area to press on called discovery.
Mode one - Search
You know what you want to watch - there will be a large search box, through which you can enter the name of a
show, actor, theme, topic, director and a google like search function will bring up ( using auto suggestions and auto
corrections) EVERYTHING that is available, regardless of pipe. Whether it’s time shifted, live, pay per view, on
YouTube, on Hulu, all results will be shown, marketing key information like whether it’s pay per view or free, new or
old, if you’ve seen it before or not, and it’s quality.
Mode two - Suggested
On your homepage you will be shown small tiles showcasing content like.
- Currently most viewed live show.
- Recommended for your tastes
- Watched by your friends.
- Recommended as a follow on to what you recently watched.
- Highest rated.
- Newest shows.
Mode three - Discovery
Here you will be able to browse by topics like theme, popularity, suggestions, type of content, length, what your
friends like, what you’ve watched before, what is relaxing, what is funny, we will see a raft of metatags as search
enablers to allow us to ﬁnd content for that moment in time.
Listening to Music.
The I’d suggest that the TV of the future is more akin to a home media console, it will come with good quality
speakers, but also be connected to better quality speakers via a Sonos like home speaker system with subwoofer
and music. It will drive all music in the home.
Like TV, we won’t care about the pipe, our subscriptions to services like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, the music we
own, the modern equivalents of Radio, we will simply search by content and our TV will pipe in whatever we’ve
I’d expect the TV of the future to do most things but not be a specialist gaming device like a Playstation or Xbox.
The TV will be relatively dumb and more about accessing content from the cloud. I would however expect it to have
similar processing power to an iPad and therefore offer an App store with games playable on the TV, all in a
connected fashion and with a Game Center like device to allow leaderboards, live playing against other people.
However true gamers would plug in a console to the TV of the future and select a new input like we do now.
Connecting to Others.
Social Connections- TV’s of the future will be connected to cameras and microphones, whatever phone calls
become, I’m thinking more like a hybrid of Skype, WhatsApp and viber, our portal to each other, via real time
communication will be the TV - It may be via text messages onscreen, with twitter like feeds embellishing programs.
The new TV will be more like a iPad like interface than anything else, it will have it’s own App store for example. Here we
could ﬁnd things like.
1) A browser- while using the TV to look at the internet is a pretty crappy experience and not best done on TV, I can imagine
that using voice control and a “xbox like” camera system to allow navigation would allow a better experience.
2) Maps - remembering that our TV is connected to other devices, we could see maps included in shows, or adverts, to help
use map like functionality to see where to go next, where to explore, we could download directions to our smartwatches
from shows and other online content.
3) eCommerce, it’s clear that the TV could create more immersive eCommerce experiences than we currently see. We see
loads of developers leveraging the limitations of mobile to make mobile commerce sites, if the same energy was placed
into “large screen” commerce we’d see richer home shopping experiences.
4) Widgets- pretty much the app ecosystem made for TV, we’ll have small windows showing us contextual information of our
choice. It could be the weather, where are friends are, who just tried to call us, what the time is in New York, when we
should set off for our meeting. Welcome to a world where personal information just ﬂows between screens.
5) Advertising in this context will be totally new, it will be videos that are removed from their programing and served to you
based on programmatic buying, they will be targeted to you, personalized and have calls to action we can only dream of
now. ‘Save to shopping list”, “get directions to phone” “download mobile coupon” “share with a friend” - Video advertising
on Tv will be holistic advertising based around the entire 4 screen ecosystem.
6) Home Control Panel- a way to see and control everything in your home network, from locks to toasters, to washing
machines to themostats.
And then just think of the possibilities.
- A dashboard on your current home energy use.
- A dashboard on your health and ﬁtness.
- A dashboard of where your family members are.
- A social hub for live calls and sharing images between people.
The future of TV is amazing, it’s nothing to do with the TV and everything to do with a large window into the
world, each other and our own lives.