I’m not saying that the Apple TV is bull, mind you. I’m talking about one or two of the points in the presentation.
But let me backtrack for a second. You’re going to have to bear with me for several paragraphs here, as I meander to my point.
It all started earlier tonight when I was down at USC (the University of Southern California, for those of you who aren’t sure) watching a fascinating presentation by artist Sue Huang of the collective knifeandfork, which is doing some really fascinating interactive installation pieces which are site and audience specific.
Huang was showing samples of her work and discussing her influences using a PowerPoint (nope, not Keynote, but what are you going to do?) presentation. At the end, running out of time, she quickly put up a number of slides which discussed the various roles that different factors played in their work. One of them, at the left, was the “Role of the Audience” which was fascinating and very dense. I reached for my iPhone (I was taking notes on it) and snapped the picture you see.
Now that I’m back home I can check out what I didn’t have time to read then.
Pretty obvious, right? Pretty easy, right?
Well, then, why was the woman four people to my left frantically typing away on her iPad, taking the notes so she could read them at home? My guess is because the freakin’ iPad doesn’t have a camera in it! I’m sure that some day that God-like device will have a camera in it — and then I’ll buy one — but for now, it’s one of the many things that it doesn’t have. Why? Because Apple decided that the public didn’t want a camera on this sleek, incredible, God-given device.
Uh, right. It would look stupid, holding an iPad up to take pictures of Mom, Dad and your dog. Correct?
So, let’s leap back a few days. Last week, Steve Jobs introduced the new Apple TV (see this MacRumors report, one of about eight zillion stories written about it) by saying that they had listened to what their customers had said they wanted and they didn’t want. They wanted “Hollywood movies and TV shows whenever they want them.” — check! Makes sense. They wanted “everything in HD” — uh, okay. Check, maybe. My Mom still can’t tell the difference between SD and HD, but let’s give this one to Steve since given a choice, everyone wants something better quality, so long as they don’t have to pay for it.
What else? “They like to pay lower prices for content.” – check! Makes sense. Cheap is better than expensive. So, score another one for the Steverino.
Next two? “They don’t want a computer on their TV.” and “They don’t want to manage storage.” — check. We don’t like things that are complex. I get that. (though one could argue that people do rather well managing their music storage on something called iTunes, which Jobs managed to introduce a new version of just twenty minutes earlier). So what did Apple do? They took out the hard drive and made the device completely streaming. Check! Makes sense .. uh no. Wait a minute.
Wait a minute.
I get the “no hard drive” part. It makes it too much like a computer. And people don’t want that, right?
Maybe. But let’s phrase the question differently. Would you like to watch anything that you have on your hard drive, whenever you want to? I’ll bet you do. And you’d like to watch things that might not be available from the few partners that Apple has lined up for the Apple TV, right? You might like to watch something from the Net that isn’t on YouTube or Netflix, wouldn’t you? I bet you would. But Steve Jobs doesn’t think so. If it ain’t on Netflix, YouTube, your MobileMe account (hah!) or Flickr, then you’d better stream it over their own proprietary Airplay connection from your computer.
Wait a minute! Your computer!? The one with a hard drive in it? Doesn’t that make it hard?
So, what’s my point here? It’s easy to knock any shipping product for what it doesn’t have. Almost every product has things missing that would be on your “Must Have” list. That’s simply a reality of the design process. You need to compromise. But the desire to dress up these missing items in a ball gown and call them God’s gift to Prince Charming is laughable.
In fact, it’s almost as laughable as filmmakers that I’ve seen look out at an audience that fails to laugh at a joke that has been planted in a film, and chalk it up to audience stupidity. Just as it’s easy to tell everybody that they should run out and see CATS AND DOGS IV because it’s in 3D!! Because you really really want 3D, don’t you?
It’s very easy in our business (as well as technology, I suppose) to get caught up in our thoughts, reactions and desires and ascribe them to everybody. If we feel that something is necessary, than everybody must feel that way, right?
One of the greatest talents that a filmmaker can possess is the ability to step outside of his or her own reality and question themselves. It’s hard, and it’s rare as a result.
“They don’t want to sync to a computer.”