Apple TV should be free

Here’s the solution to a problem Apple apparently doesn’t know it has. The next great tech battlegrounds are shaping up to be wearable and the living room. And while everyone scours the internet for a glimpse of the mystical iWatch, Apple already has an outstanding stake in the ground in the Apple TV. Not the actual Apple Television, but it’s hockey puck-sized A/V media center that’s been available for several years. Although it was famously called a hobby by Jobs and Cook hasn’t done much to turn that perception around, the Apple TV is actually an awesome little device that has loads of content available to it, an easy to use interface (mostly), and a lot of potential. Apple sells it for $99, but it really needs to give it away to stay on top.

The living room is the logical next step for gadget makers and content distributors and unlike smartphones and tablets when Apple disrupted those markets, this one is much more mature with numerous players vying for that coveted real estate by the couch.

Although it was famously called a hobby by Jobs and Cook hasn’t done much to turn that perception around, the Apple TV is actually an awesome little device that has loads of content available to it.

Make the Apple TV a free accessory to anyone buying an iPhone or iPad. In my mind AirPlay is the killer feature of this thing and the true beauty of the little black box is only realized when paired with an iDevice. Content availabilty is absolutely crucial to its success, to be clear, but no device compliments your iPhone quite like an Apple TV. And thats because of AirPlay. Not only does it allow you to flick video from the 4 inch screen in your hand to the 80 inch screen mounted on your wall, but it allows you to offload processing power to your phone. While everyone is looking for an app store for the Apple TV, they are missing the one that already exists. Using AirPlay, games are available right now that can be played on your living room set. There are endless possibilities to what you can do with AirPlay, but not many developers are taking advantage of it.  Giving it away  would be the best way for Apple to Trojan horse into people’s living rooms. Giving developers the scale they need to start writing apps for the devices.  It already acts as a store window for iTunes. Let it do much more.

Don’t want to give it away? Fine, but bring the price down as low as you cam go. The Google Chromecast made a splash earlier this summer and is little more than an HDMI dongle and a $35 price tag. Even if Apple is breaking even on each unit, in the end it’s in Apple’s best interest to get an Apple TV in as many living rooms as possible. (Admittedly, I do not know Apple’s current margins on the Apple TV) This way, when the Apple Television finally does become a reality, consumers have two options to to let Apple own their living room, either buy the Apple Television or convert your current TV into one with the Apple TV… The user experience should be the same on either one.

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