The New Apple TV: Potential Beyond Gaming

It’s now widely expected Apple will announce new Apple TV hardware next week, alongside new iPhones and possibly other products too. The headline feature for the new hardware are significantly beefed-up specs which, in turn, will enable the creation of a wide variety of third-party applications including games, through an open SDK.

Ahead of next week’s announcement, I want to look at the potential for a new Apple TV to transform not just gaming but also video consumption.

Bringing casual gaming to the console

Back in 2006, Nintendo launched the Wii with a stated mission of expanding the number of console gamers (and therefore console buyers). The device was enormously popular. Both the controller and the kinds of games offered were breaks from past patterns and from competitors’ offerings at the time. As such, the Wii sold enormously well for several years. By enabling gaming on the Apple TV, Apple is arguably aiming at a similar strategic objective: taking console gaming beyond the hardcore gamer and expanding the market dramatically. However, Apple isn’t the first company to try this but why should it fare differently when all the others (Amazon, Ouya, etc.) have essentially failed?

Well, for one thing, Apple is bringing one of the largest bases (and arguably the single most lucrative existing base) of casual gamers to the table. iOS on iPhones and iPads is second only to Android in size and likely generates more direct revenue than Android from games and from apps in general. Games are already by far the most popular category on the iOS App Store and typically take up the vast majority of spots on App Store charts. Apple has cracked casual gaming – and specifically the monetization of casual gaming – in a way no one else has. The App Store grosses close to $5 billion a quarter already and, over the next year, will likely generate more than $20 billion in gross sales with 70% of that going to developers and 30% to Apple. Games likely account for over half this revenue, so that’s a significant revenue stream in its own right for both Apple and its developers. None of the others who have tried this approach have had this sort of base of users, developers and – importantly – revenues when they did so.

The thing that sets Apple apart from Nintendo, meanwhile, is that though Nintendo changed some aspects of the console model with the Wii, it left the fundamental business model largely unchanged. The Wii itself was expensive hardware and games continue to be priced very high, as console games always have been. Apple, meanwhile, has an opportunity to bring the low-cost app sales model from iOS to the console, alongside that base of users and developers and a proven revenue model. I’m intrigued by the possibility for the definition of “Universal” apps on iOS to expand to include the Apple TV. And there’s also the interesting prospect of cross-platform gaming, with one participant in social gaming using an Apple TV while others use iPhones or iPads.

Big questions for gaming on the Apple TV

The big questions to my mind about the Apple TV are:

  • How easy it will be for existing iOS game developers to port their apps?
  • How effectively the controllers Apple offers (whether the new remote, iOS devices paired to the TV, or new custom controllers) work for gaming on the device (other TV-centric boxes have floundered on this point)?
  • How will Apple stimulate sales such that there are enough users to attract developers and how it will incentivize developers to get a quick start so as to drive interest from consumers? Without many games, there will be little to attract users to a more expensive Apple TV box and, without many users, the Apple TV will be a far less attractive platform to developers than iOS.

These points are also interrelated, of course – ease of porting apps will drive developer interest while the effectiveness of the gaming experience on the platform will be critical to both developer and user interest. But I think it’s entirely possible Apple will create a huge new opportunity for itself and developers around the Apple TV, based on gaming alone.

Don’t ignore the content opportunity

However, I think focusing on gaming alone misses a big part of the opportunity Apple will create here. Remember, although the Apple TV has been in the market for a number of years, Apple has always been the gatekeeper for the third party apps that make their way onto the box. As such, though there has been significant growth in the number of apps on the Apple TV, it still pales in comparison to Apple’s other platform or even other set-top boxes such as Roku. Major TV and video apps notably absent from the Apple TV include Sling TV and Amazon Instant Video, both of which are present on iOS. One of the attractions of the Roku box in particular has been they offered essentially every video app except Apple’s own, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and many others. In a world where usage has been gravitating towards streaming, Apple’s own iTunes store has become less relevant to many consumers.

Neutralizing some competitive advantages and opening up new business models

An open Apple TV SDK also unlocks the door to these popular streaming services, some of which Apple has likely kept off the box for competitive reasons. That may be a downside for Apple, but it should actually make the box more attractive, especially in the period before it launches its own video streaming service. But there’s also a very long tail of more specialized content which could never make its way onto the Apple TV under the current model but might well do so under an open model. Two categories in particular are worth noting. One is the Religion category on the Roku which offers some of the most popular channels, suggesting that some users interested in this content are drawn to the Roku because they offer it. But another category – Fitness channels – might be more lucrative, both for developers and for Apple. Both the Roku and the iOS App Store offer an increasing range of fitness channels and apps respectively. These have some interesting business models associated with them. Rather than buy gym memberships or hire personal trainers, people are increasingly turning to digital subscriptions to fitness and training content. The Apple TV seems an ideal home for this sort of thing. Interestingly, even Craig Federighi mentioned during a demo at WWDC this year he starts the day with a meditation app, which would also be a great fit for the TV. There are lots of business models around video content the Apple TV has hitherto not supported. An open SDK would allow this and, in turn, could drive significant new revenue.

New interfaces required

In time, it still seems highly likely Apple will launch its own TV service but, until it does, there will continue to be many third party TV and video apps on the Apple TV. On the iPhone and iPad, however, this situation is already leading to large numbers of separate, disconnected apps which consumers have to access to find the content they want to watch (see Ben’s piece from earlier this week for his screenshot of video apps on his iPad). The Apple TV is already a little unwieldy with its many icons for different kinds of video content, and this will only get worse with an open SDK. As such, Apple needs to evolve the UI for the Apple TV significantly and the most important feature it could introduce to help with all this is universal search. On the day I’m writing this, reports have emerged the new Apple TV will indeed have universal search and I think that’s critical to the success of the device when it comes to video. Being able to search for specific content first, rather than have to guess at which app might contain it, will dramatically improve the experience. Some of the enhancements to Spotlight search on iOS announced at WWDC should make their way into the Apple TV too, allowing the search function not only to find content within apps, but deep-link directly to it. Allowing Siri on the Apple TV to perform some of this searching without clunky text input through a remote is another critical feature and one I’d expect to see next week.

One last thing I think an open SDK could allow, beyond what has currently been possible on the Apple TV, is interactivity around TV. Competing boxes including the Amazon Fire TV already provide some of this, but I think there’s room for significantly more innovation in this area. Bringing up information about actors on screen, showing two alternative viewing angles side by side for sports events, showing related content from favorite blogs, news sites, or social media, and many other possibilities become available when app makers are free to experiment with how they present their content rather than being constrained by Apple’s traditional UI for third party Apple TV apps.

Timing the last big question

The other big question is timing. Every time Apple has either created a new product with an SDK or released an open SDK for an existing product, it has given developers several months to create apps for it. Given that Apple is announcing the new Apple TV next week, when will it actually go on sale and will that give developers enough time to create compelling apps for it? I’m sure Apple would like the box to go on sale before the holiday gift-buying season starts in earnest, which probably means a November launch, but that seems like a very short window for developers, unless porting their apps really is trivial. The new box is reportedly based on iOS, which should help, but I suspect it may be into early 2016 for some of the better apps for the Apple TV to land.

Published by

Jan Dawson

Jan Dawson is Founder and Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research, a technology research and consulting firm focused on consumer technology. During his sixteen years as a technology analyst, Jan has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. As such, he brings a unique perspective to the consumer technology space, pulling together insights on communications and content services, device hardware and software, and online services to provide big-picture market analysis and strategic advice to his clients. Jan has worked with many of the world’s largest operators, device and infrastructure vendors, online service providers and others to shape their strategies and help them understand the market. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Jan worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as Chief Telecoms Analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally.

55 thoughts on “The New Apple TV: Potential Beyond Gaming”

  1. I do not think that most user will be playing mobile game on their TV, except maybe through a Chromecast that can easily take advantage of the big screen without the need for a new set top box.

    I think the best interface for the television is no interface at all, hence the only thing that will change the TV landscape in my opinion will be a Chromecast like solution that take advantage of all the computer already at our disposal

    There will be nothing special about the new Apple TV, it will be just another set top box that will be on par with Fire TV and Android TV.

    1. It will depend on the games. We already use iPads and our Apple TV via Airplay to play family games, it’s quite fun. There’s lots of room for improvement though. Still, the kids love gathering around the large screen and playing community-style games. They use their iPads essentially as controllers. So having used our Apple TV as a pseudo gaming platform for years already it is obvious to me how great the Apple TV could be at gaming. We’ll see what Apple does with it.

      1. Playing Mobile games on a Smartphone or a tablet are not the same, at siting in front of a TV to play mobile games, unless you are a true gamer for whom the Apple TV will be a non stater.

          1. Ask Nintendo about what, the incredible success of the Wii? Nintendo tapped into the casual gaming market in a way no other console did. But all consoles have problems long term. I’m not going to buy Wii games for $20 to $50 when I can get the same kind of games for ten bucks or less and play them on my iPad, and soon on my Apple TV and 55 inch flat screen. I would LOVE to play Oceanhorn via Apple TV and a huge screen. And I can get that game for nine bucks.

          2. Oceanhorn on an Apple TV with a large MFI controller would be so much fun. Add iCloud syncing to the AppleTV version, and it would be a great gaming ecosystem – play at home on the big screen, play on-the-go on the mobile device.

          3. Yes! There are a lot of iOS games that would benefit from a larger screen, a controller, and the shared/multi-player aspects. There’s a great Mac game that (as far as I know) never made it to iOS, Midnight Mansion. That game could work via Apple TV. Or imagine multi-player Kingdom Rush, that only becomes practical with a dedicated controller and a larger screen. So many possibilities.

        1. Not sure why you’re using the term “mobile game”. A game is a game. True gamers are a tiny portion of the entire gaming market, they don’t matter. Almost everyone plays games casually.

          As a family we already sit in front of our 55 inch TV and play games via the Apple TV using our iPads as the controllers, and the gameplay is on the screen (maybe you misunderstood that in my original comment). There are a number of very fun multi-player games. But as I said, there’s lots of room for improvement. I think you’ll be surprised how good a gaming platform the new Apple TV will be.

        1. Nonsense. Even without optimizing to take advantage of a larger screen, all sorts of games, casual or not, are tons of fun on a larger screen. Angry Birds on my 27 inch iMac for example, it’s awesome. It’s even better when I play it on the 55 inch flat screen. It’s actually a lot of fun to watch people play a game mirrored on the TV screen. And as I said before, there are games where you all join and use iPads or iPhones but the gameplay is on the TV screen. It is enormously fun for group gaming.

          I imagine you’re right that the new Apple TV will be a non-starter with hardcore gamers, but that segment is so tiny, they just don’t matter. Casual gaming is where it’s at, and while much of this happens on iPads and iPhones, I assure you casual gaming is really enjoyable as a shared experience on a large TV screen.

    2. A BOLD position to assume – “There will be nothing special about the new Apple TV, it will be just another set top box that will be on par with Fire TV and Android TV.”

      Some of us judge that Apple does have a respectable (perhaps ‘peerless’ is more apt) record since 2003 in the are of making stuff ‘special’.

          1. You have said otherwise. Here’s one of your comments re: iPhone, “every single one of the products that Apple created were also envisioned by others or was already in existence”.

          2. Apple has never invented anything, nor knows better than anyone else, their real advantage has always been the fact that they were able to execute and bring to the market what was next better than anyone else which is no longer the case.

    3. It appears you have concluded that since you can’t think it up, it cant be done and therefore Apple is relegated to what you have already seen. That or you are simply biased against Apple and didn’t want to come out and just say it.

    4. They won’t be mobile games. Sure, the apple TV might run Ipad/Iphone apps, just like the Ipad runs Iphone apps, but it’s going to have it’s own specific line of apps designed to run on the ATV and designed to work on a big screen. Since it will run IOS, I expect it’ll be easy to port games from the phone to the ATV, so there will probably be quite a few of them available in relatively short order.

      “There will be nothing special about the new Apple TV, it will be just
      another set top box that will be on par with Fire TV and Android TV.”

      Nothing is certain until Apple unveils it, but all the rumours agree that it’s going to be quite unlike either of those gadgets. It’s going to be a set top box like Roku or Chromecast, but it’s also going to be like a console, with a full SDK and the ability to install apps and games.

      1. Nothing is certain until Apple unveils it, but all the rumours agree that it’s going to be quite unlike either of those gadgets. It’s going to be a set top box like Roku or Chromecast, but it’s also going to be like a console, with a full SDK and the ability to install apps and games.Glaurung-Quena

        How is that different from the Android TV or Fire TV.?

        you can do all of that including using chromecast on an Android TV already

        1. I didn’t realize that those gadgets you named have an SDK and can run games. Up here in Canada, we don’t get Hulu and Netflix is a crippled stump of what it is in the US, so I’ve never looked into getting any of these set top box thingies and know very little about their capabilities.

          So, a second try at responding to your “it will just be another set top box” comment:

          The ATV will be different for two reasons: 1, it’s going to sell very well, to people who are used to opening their wallets and paying for apps on the app store. I expect it to easily sell more units than all the other similar set-top box thingies combined. 2, it will run a version of IOS, so its SDK will be compatible with one of the largest and most lucrative app ecosystems in the world. Ergo, it’s going to have tons of developers already familiar with how to build apps for it right out the gate.

          1. You’re probably right, only time will tell
            Since the smartphone revolution, the relationship that consumers have with their TV has changed a lot, which makes me very skeptical of the Smart TV or set top box concept. In my view, Apple and other OEMs want the set top box far more than most consumer do,

          2. The biggest difference is that Apple has the existing ecosystem in a way Amazon doesn’t, and the ability to sell tons of hardware, which Google doesn’t.

          3. Apple has no experience in media streaming, and you are trying to convince us that they will create a set top box that will be able to broadcast very High quality sports events live, you must be kidding, and even if they manage to sell millions, it will be just another set top box on top of your existing cable box to make more money than anything else.

            Why would anyone spend $ 200 to buy the new Apple TV to play mobile quality game that is already available on their iPhone or iPad, including watching Netflix something they can already do it using a Chromecast that offers better experience with their mobile?

            To disturb the TV landscape, you would have to eliminate the need for a set top box which Apple will never do, since they are more interested in selling hardware nowadays to make the most money possible, rather than solving real problem.

          4. “Apple has no experience in media streaming” – I beg to differ. All content consumed on the Apple TV today is streamed. Apple already has a huge CDN capability for delivering this kind of stuff too. Moving to live streaming is absolutely a new thing for them, and they’ll need to bulk up to handle it, but it’s not such a huge departure as you make it seem.

            The whole point of the Apple TV, at least eventually, will be to take over as the sole input to your television, not just to complement whatever else is plugged into it. For many users, that will likely have to wait until Apple’s own TV service launches, but this is what sets it apart from the Chromecast and other casting devices. Once you have only one input, the user experience can be almost indistinguishable from a television that has the functionality baked in, while allowing far greater flexibility in upgrading over time without having to replace the far more expensive television.

          5. there’s is a big difference between on demand streaming and live streaming particularly when you are talking about High Quality live sport event content which require a huge amount of internet bandwidth.

            adding a nice set-top box with a grid of app that most users will not use, and a pretty remote control to a television in the mobile age is nothing special nor a great user experience that will change the TV’s landscape, our television simply must become a dumb terminal to our mobile phone, otherwise it will just be a nicer cable box on top of our existing cable box that won’t change anything.

      2. it will be Mobile quality Game which i don’t see the need for giving that you can play those type of game already on your mobile Phone unless Apple want to compete with Microsoft and Sony otherwise it wont be any different from any existing set top box on the market.

        1. If you look down your nose at mobile games because they’re not “real” games that run on a “real” gaming system, then I feel sorry for you because you’re missing out on a vast universe of really good games that don’t happen to fit into your narrow little conceptual boxes.

          And if you can’t see how playing a game on a 5″ screen a foot or so from your nose is dramatically different from playing a game on a 30″ screen on your wall, then I feel even more sorry for you because you must never have experienced a movie in a movie theater either.

          1. i don’t look down my nose at mobile game, the reality is that all the data indicated that consumer no longer play these games on their big TV screen anymore, they do it on their IPhone or their iPad, which is the reason why Nintendo struggling so much.

          2. The point you’re missing is that mobile gaming is going to move into the living room, that’s the opportunity. Horace Dediu (Asymco) predicted this two years ago: “That is where mobile is the clear winner. More people will hire mobile devices for their primary gaming activity. And as mobile devices get inexorably better, they will be hired for use in the setting where consoles have been king: the living room.”

            Consumers are moving away from expensive consoles and expensive games, and gaming more on mobile, but that doesn’t mean mobile isn’t going to move into the living room. Of course it is, this is obvious. So obvious that Horace called it in 2013.

          3. I never said that mobile gaming isn’t going to move into the living room, my point is that it will not be through a set top box a la Apple TV nor the reason why a lot of people are going to want an Apple TV on top of their existing cable box that already contains similar type of game.

            The mobile game is going to move into the living room through a Chromecast like a solution, that uses our big TV screen as a dumb terminal to our mobile device already in your pocket
            that was my whole point.

          4. You’re still missing a few key bits. My current cable box doesn’t offer me similar games, it isn’t part of the iOS ecosystem. I want all the great iOS games I already play on mobile to move into my living room. How will that happen? Apple TV.

            When you describe how mobile games will move into the living room, you’re basically describing Apple TV. It is the bridge between the mobile device and the TV screen. Apple TV isn’t really a set top box, it’s a tiny little thing you hook into your TV (like Chromecast).

            So, we agree that mobile gaming is going to move into the living room. And we agree that requires a bridge device. You’ll have to do a better job explaining why Apple TV can’t be the bridge device while Chromecast can. Especially given the fact that iOS is a HUGE gaming platform and to move iOS games into the living room (which you agree will happen) you’ll need a bridge device from Apple.

          5. the difference between the Apple TV Box and a Chromecast is that the Apple TV will most likely be just another set top box that customers will have to buy and developers will have tp create applications and games independently in a native form, while the Chromecast is a cloud enable solution that allows developer to extend their existing Streaming App or existing Games to their TV through a Cloud API and just a couple line of code, and since all the processing are done to the cloud that reduce the need far more graphic power and use a lot less Internet bandwidth than a native solution.

            also it do not confuse your needs as a fervent user of all things Apple for the majority of customers who will have to justify the need for an Apple TV box to play mobile quality game when they can simply buy a Playstation, the same way many of them prefer to buy real PC game instead of playing web Game on thier browser.

          6. The new Apple TV isn’t a new native format that requires coding games from scratch. All the reporting says it will run iOS 9, meaning it will be just like Chromecast in allowing developers to easily extend games and content to it.

            Apple TV is also ‘cloud-enabled’, whatever that really means, all content is already streamed, and the new Apple TV is reported to have plenty of processing power, more than enough for gaming. Have you played any of the graphics intensive iOS games? They’re amazing. What you deride as “mobile quality” has gotten pretty darn good over the last few years.

            On your last point, why on earth would I buy a Playstation for $500 plus individual games for $20 to $60 instead of an Apple TV for $149 and then access a vast library of great iOS games for much, much less cost? It doesn’t make any sense.

          7. the reason the PlayStation or Xbox One cost so much money is not because of the graphic or the OS is simply because of the huge amount of storage space that is necessary for High Quality game despite many of them come in CD form, hence if Apple want to compete with Sony or Microsoft that wont be with a 150$ box also mobile quality game are not that big of a deal in the living room as of now.

          8. That doesn’t make sense, a 500 GB drive is maybe $50, probably cheaper as a manufacturing component. Besides, the real cost is buying individual games for ten times the price of an iOS game.

            I’ve long thought Apple should do some kind of modular storage solution for the Apple TV, so I could put my media directly on the device, expand it out to two or three terabytes, etc. But perhaps there are reasons why that’s not a good idea.

          9. different kind of storage require different kind of motherboard which require different type of technology including software optimization.

            A PlayStation is more of a $ 500 computer, than a set-top box,
            Also the latest generation of game developers do not seek to make less money, why would the develop their game for the Apple TV platform in a race for the cheapest price possible, as is the case in the App Store?

            Stop the Hype nonsense, Apple will unveil just another set top box similar to the one already on the market that change anything in the TV landscape,

          10. I’m not hyping anything. Your arguments make no sense Kenny. So now you’re saying there’s something special about the Playstation that makes 500 GB of storage for that single device incredibly expensive compared to every other hard drive in every other computer in the world? That doesn’t seem to be true, you can look up prices on hard drives for the Playstation, they’re cheap, less than $50 actually.

            As for game developers, I expect we’ll see lots of the higher end games sell for around eight to ten bucks. The latest Infinity Blade is $7.99 I think. Oceanhorn is $9.99. These are both console-quality games. And the audience these developers can reach through iOS is much, much larger than any console. I would think the margins are better as well (since it’s all software).

          11. is not the only HDD 500, it is the combination of the motherboard, the graphics, the processor, the OS, and all the costly media encoding tech which are required to run those high power game that make it that much more expensive

          12. Sure, and hardcore gamers want this, but they are a tiny, tiny market. Now think about what you saw for the new Apple TV, games like Transistor or Shadowmatic or Manticore Rising, they looked wicked cool. Are they as good as a PS4? No. But they’re more than good enough, and the device/software is much simpler (by your own admission). That’s a kind of disruption. I can get the new Apple TV for $149 or $199, use existing iOS devices as controllers, or buy Playstation-like controllers to use with it if I want. And I’ll be able to get lots of really great games for far less money. Never mind how great tvOS looked and worked, there’s lots to like about the new Apple TV, games is just a part of it. This device is going to change family games night in our house, and a lot of others I suspect. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and last time I checked gaming was about fun, not spec lists.

          13. Stop dreaming there was nothing special about the new Apple TV, it’s just going to be on par with the rest of the sets top box on the market as i predicted

            This tiny tiny market of hardcore gamer you speak of, is greater than all of Hollywood combine in terms of revenues and growth

  2. “How will Apple stimulate sales such that there are enough users to
    attract developers and how it will incentivize developers to get a quick
    start so as to drive interest from consumers?”

    They have millions of old school Apple TVs out there right now, with single core A5 chips and 8gb of storage. All it takes is a software update to make all of those have an app store, too. Sure, the brightest, shiniest games will require the new hardware, but those old ATVs will probably run a lot of lighter games just fine (maybe at 720p or 576p instead of 1080p, but does that really matter outside of the hardcore gaming crowd?)

    1. I don’t think (a) developers will want to develop for that older hardware (which would be like making games for the iPhone 4) (b) Apple will allow the App Store to run on that older hardware. It was never designed to run these sorts of apps, and I’m fairly certain Apple won’t want to create such a sub-par experience, with such limited access to apps.

      1. Considering Apple’s contempt for legacy apps and backwards compatibility, you’re probably right.

        In which case, my backup answer to your chicken and egg question is that Apple must have very carefully designed things so that developers will be able to port their existing IOS apps to the ATV with minimal effort.

        It’s probably no mistake that the Iphone 6 runs at essentially 720p and the 6+ runs at 1080p. So games that run on either phone already have all the art and rendering resources they need to run on a HDTV display. And we know the ATV will run IOS, so really the only thing that needs work in order to port a game will be switching input from touch screen events to manipulations of the controller.

        If Apple is clever in implementing the API, it may be possible to have the controller inputs be automatically translated into traditional touch screen events, so all a developer needs to do is drop in a template for what controller actions activate what parts of a virtual touchscreen, and done, their phone app has been ported to the ATV.

  3. You can get a full Windows + Android dual-boot mini PC with a 64-bit Atom, 2GB of RAM, 16/32GB of Flash and a full complement of I/O (HDMI, sound via jack or optical, 3-4 USB, BT, wifi, ethernet, SD) for $100-$150. Great price, good specs, good I/O, and 2 “regular” ecosystems full of apps (plus 5 Universal apps ^^). Add an air mouse or a $30 HTPC keyboard, and you’ve got a very cheap, very capable and versatile media center for videos, music, games and apps, or even a media/backup server (with external hard drives).

    Yet people still buy dedicated media players… probably because of usability concerns, Kodi is weird, VLC doesn’t seem to know how it wants to present streaming. I’m sure Apple will do better, hopefully without walling things in too much (dlna client ?)

    1. You’re presenting two very different visions of the possibilities in this product space – the former is the one many hackers and tinkerers are using, while Apple’s will be the ultra-usable (but much less flexible) alternative for the mainstream user. It will use AirPlay but not DLNA or any other open technologies.

      1. Indeed, most Apple customers probably don’t care about those nerdy things. I finally escaped from a fortnight at my iBrother’s… my take-away is that it’s really all about ease of use and bragging rights, not features. Thankfully, he did like my gift of a Synology DS414j… mostly because I did the setup, and the thing does talk AirPlay and TimeMachine.

        The hope for the non-i rest of the us is that aTV will get support for standard protocols via apps ? On iPhones, there are dlna clients, multiformat video/music players, SMB (Windows) network clients… But you’re right it probably doesn’t matter much, people who care about that won’t buy aTVs anyway.

  4. It seems obvious to me that Apple will have already seeded betas of the Apple TV SDK to at least a few major well known publishers of games and other apps, under heavy NDA, so that they can demo a number of high profile games/etc. at the September 9 event. They’ve done this before, and there’s no reason to doubt it won’t be the case this time.

    Then right after the event there will be a much wider release of the Apple TV SDK, either in beta or final form. That allows developers quite a bit of time before even the end of November shopping frenzy for xmas to get their Apple TV apps ready, and even more time before xmas itself.

    For testing the software before the hardware is available, I expect the software will just run in a simulator on a Mac and there will be an app for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad that simulates the new controller. It might in fact just be the same app that will be released to consumers for control of the Apple TV.

    Alongside this Apple will have surely prepared plenty of other software/content for the new Apple TV to be compelling on its own.

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