An Apple television doesn't make sense, but Apple TV does

Forget iTV -- Apple has already deconstructed traditional media hardware/content flow and freed up content consumption

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Also, there's a basic problem with the notion of Internet-streamed media: It's expensive. For a while, Internet streaming was seen as a way of "cutting the cord" with cable TV providers, whose costs keep rising and whose customer service is usually horrible. The problem with that approach is that media streaming uses the same cord to access the Internet as TV service does, and the cable companies and phone companies have changed the rules to make Internet streaming as expensive as or moreso than regular TV service.

Price out Internet-only service from a Comcast, Time Warner, or AT&T, and you'll see it's basically the same as Internet-plus-TV service. Additionally, streamed media counts against your data limits, whereas TV service does not. Plus, premium providers like HBO won't let you stream unless you pay for the TV service, In other words, Internet media streaming's original discount proposition has vanished.

Then there's the Apple TV, which does the Internet streaming like everybody else. But it also does in-home streaming, acting as a waystation for your Mac or PC to stream iTunes content to speakers, TVs, and stereos. as well as for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Some Android apps let those devices stream to Apple TV, but they're not reliable.

That may not sound like a huge leap, but it is. Now, your entire entertainment ecosystem is digital and streamable, both from the Internet and locally. If you digitize your CDs and DVDs, you can get rid of a lot of stuff in your living room: the DVD player and all those discs. Visitors (if they use Apple products, anyhow) can share what's on their devices and -- thanks to the latest Apple TV software update -- play whatever media they purchased in the iTunes Store, streaming it to whatever Apple TV is nearby, not just their own Apple TV.

The new Apple TV software also lets you stream from your Mac or PC to your iOS device, so you can play music or movies from your media library on your own device. That lets people entertain themselves with different content at the same time, anywhere in the house where they have a good Wi-Fi signal. Talk about cord-cutting!

Apple uses its proprietary AirPlay protocol to push people into a wholly Apple ecosystem, which should provide an opportunity for a Samsung or Google to offer a multiplatform alternative. So far, they haven't.

Samsung uses its AllShare software and the DLNA protocol that's supposed to be multiplatform but often does not work with competing manufacturers' devices. Google is pushing the Wi-Fi Alliance's Miracast technology, which it uses in its latest devices, but in tests of early Miracast hardware, it doesn't work very well because vendors are deploying "pre-certified" versions of the technology. Plus, the standard is falling prey to industry infighting. Meanwhile, AirPlay just works.

Apple is deconstructing the traditional media hardware and content architecture, making content consumption much more flexible than anyone else. The company is doing the same in cars with its forthcoming iOS in the Car technology and in building environments with its iBeacons technology.

Who needs an iTV when you have an Apple TV?

This article, "An Apple television doesn't make sense, but Apple TV does," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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