The next Apple TV and what I want it to be

There's been a lot of talk recently about what Apple might do in the television industry.

Can they disrupt it as they did to music with the iPod, mobile phones with the iPhone, and personal coputers with the iPad? Will they launch an actual television set (some call it iTV) or will it be a new Apple TV device that connects to your current TV?

Rumours have heated up again in anticipation of the event later this week. Everyone expects Apple to reveal a new iPad, but as far as Apple TV goes, nobody really knows. Although we all like to speculate.

I do think the television industry is ripe for disruption and Apple is arguably the company best positioned to do it.

Here's what I, personally, would like Apple to do:

  • A new Apple TV: As cool as an Apple television set could be, I have no need or desire to purchase a new one. I believe the potential is in the experience of watching television, not in the hardware itself.

  • Apps as channels: A new Apple TV with an iOS-like interface would be awesome. Each "app" could be an entry point to specific content. For example:

    1. Free to Air: FTA channels could be their own app. Tap on the CBS app and watch CBS as you do now, free and ad supported.
    2. Syndicated shows: For those of us that would be happy to pay for shows to avoid ads, this could be the solution. You could buy the new season of Boardwalk Empire and have it appear as an app, with all episodes there. If you buy it at the start of the season, a badge could notify you when a new episode is available. All add free and payment directly to the producers.
    3. Independent shows: Similar to video podcasts. This would've been a great way to distribute TikiBar and similar shows. It opens up the doors for small independent producers to reach large audiences.
    4. Short Films: I can imagine an app for The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.
    5. Themed Content: A series of educational videos or kids shows under a common theme.

    Because these are apps, they don't have to be just a video. They can be interactive and feature additional content. For example, the app for a show could feature interviews, behind the scenes videos, promotions for accompanying iPad and iPhone apps, links to books in the iBookstore, merchandise, trailers, etc.

  • Open to everyone: Like podcasts in iTunes and apps in the App Stores, everyone can publish their content. We, as customers, will get the best of both worlds. Content from the big guys alongside content from indie producers.

As with the App Store model, Apple takes care of the infrastructure and provides access to millions of potential customers in exchange for their 30% cut.

The possibilities are endless.

I'm sure the bright minds at Apple will come up with something infinitely better than what I'm imagining here for their Apple TV strategy. What is almost certain is that the TV industry is about to go through a phase of rapid change where some will win and some will loose. In the end, I believe customers will win.