The Coming Age of TV Apps

The new generation of Apple TV was announced earlier this month and I believe it has the capability of kick-starting a new generation of TV Apps that will bring the personal aspects of Mobile experience to the living room.

Apple has a tendency of getting down to the core problem and working hard on it until it’s solved.  with TV the competitors simply took android or Linux or Windows and put it on a TV screen.  It ignored the critical differences with a TV that make it difficult to simply apply computer or mobile experiences unmodified.

  1. mouse input doesn’t work – apps that are designed to work with a mouse cannot function well with anything you can put into a remote.
  2. keyboards are not welcome in the living room.  nobody wants a full size keyboard on their coffee table, and micro keyboards all suck
  3. Traditional TV remotes don’t offer enough to accommodate complex interfaces.
  4. Video game controllers are good for people who game but too daunting for non-gamers

Apple brings a couple key things to the table with the new Apple TV that I think will be enough to capture the market and dramatically change how people watch their TV.

  1. Dedicated App Store with TV specifically designed apps that are reviewed by Apple for quality
  2. Back-end infrastructure in place for payments, subscriptions, in app purchases, millions of credit card accounts already registered
  3. An army of developers who already know the languages and libraries required to develop apps for the platform
  4. Siri to help out with some very clever ways to navigate content
  5. putting a Trackpad on the remote will make input and navigation much more natural and faster than arrow keys

I think it’s safe to say that a TV App Store with 1,000,000 apps will dramatically change the way we consume content on our TVs.  Imagine Sesame Street as interactive games that demand kids actually originate thoughts rather that passively consume them.  If Siri can help you answer anything from what is 2+3 to how does quantum teleportation work? or save Carrie’s shoes here to my pinterest #wantthese.

Transitioning TV from a passive to an interactive entertainment backed by the variety from thousands of developers pushing out their best ideas of what could be cool on TV is going to be a recipe for disruption.

I suspect there will be a killer app and it may not be a video game or related to traditional TV content at all.  It might be something only possible on an open platform where indie developers are free to create and publish their craziest ideas.