Tag Archives: Apple TV

Google Announces Chromecast

chromecast-hed-2013Less than two months after launching experimental internet balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere, Google is once again taking another step toward dominating the digital world.  Last Wednesday (24 July), the digital media giant announced the release of its video streaming device Chromecast.  Compatible with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones (Android and iOS), the 5 cm-long gadget plugs into an HDMI port on an HDTV and streams video from the mobile device (acting as a remote) to the TV. 

Although Chromecast lacks the breadth of content (it’s currently only able to stream YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix) that other streaming devices such as Apple TV have, it comes at a fraction of the cost.  The thumb drive-sized device has a retail price of US$35 (S$45), compared to Apple TV’s price of US$99 (S$125).  With more streaming content expected to become available for Chromecast – such as Pandora – we shouldn’t be surprised to see it compete with the big dogs of video streaming.

However, Chromecast’s real advantage over other devices is its multi-screen capability, says Janko Roettgers:

“Chromecast synchronizes media playback across multiple devices, making it possible for you to launch the playback of a Netflix movie on your TV with the help of your phone, then turn off that phone and launch the app on your iPad to pause the movie. That’s simply not possible with [Apple TV's] AirPlay today, and it puts pressure on Apple to add more features.”

Google obviously modeled Chromecast’s simplicity after AirPlay, but, naturally, made improvements.  AirPlay only works with Apple products, and even then there are certain software requirements (I know from experience how frustrating it is to find a cool video on a Macbook and not be able to stream it through AirPlay).

Chromecast sold out on both Amazon and the Google Play store within a day of the release, and is still out of stock on Amazon.  However, Amazon will ship the device anywhere, so we Asian consumers must only wait until Amazon gets another shipment to have one of our own.

Referenced from CNN.com, gigaom.com, and asia.cnet.com

Apple May Add Live TV

1126-apple-tvAmid growing anticipation of the new iOS 7 operating system, there are reports that Apple is looking add a live TV feature to its wildly popular OTT device, Apple TV.

Although the move by itself would require a huge amount of resources and undertake substantial risk, the reports do not stop there.  The pièce de résistance of the premium service, Jessica Lessin reports, would be the ability to skip over advertisements.

From a business standpoint, ad-skipping within TV broadcasts would seem to make no sense, as broadcasting companies would undoubtedly notice and would almost assuredly rain down lawsuits.  However, Apple’s solution is to compensate networks directly for all lost ad revenues, thereby avoiding conflict and expensive court proceedings.

The idea looks good in theory, but how much would compensating for ads really cost? According to tvb.org, TV ad spending in the US totaled almost US$18B (S$22.7B) in the first quarter of this year alone.  Needless to say, Apple would have to charge a pretty penny for the service if it were to turn a profit.  However, Laura Hockenson writes that it could be part of Apple’s master plan:

“The rumblings that Apple’s big push to the living room may finally be happening could be the boon that Apple TV has been set up for all these years, but carefully balancing unwanted disruption from the cable companies is critical to the plan’s success.”

Controlling over half of the market for OTT set-top boxes, Apple certainly has the chops to pull off a plan like this.  But finding a way to financially appease both its customers and broadcasting companies is a task that could baffle even Apple’s highly creative executives.

Referenced from GigaOM and examiner.com

Boxee Acquisition Rumors

boxee-box-frontFor the past couple of weeks, people have expected struggling digital media service Boxee expected to announce that it has been acquired.  Boxee has made no secret of its desire to sell after failing to procure funding for its cloud DVR device after a months-long search; however, no such announcement has come from the company.  

The sale is rumored to be at a dirt-cheap price, as Boxee’s value has significantly declined in recent years.  The company tweeted last year that all-time sales of its set-top box had reached 200,000, which doesn’t begin to hold a candle to other set-top providers.

Jim O’Neill says Boxee simply doesn’t have the market share to compete with companies offering a similar product:

“While it has positioned itself as a potential answer for pay-TV providers looking to provide over-the-top options to their current offerings, there are more established and better-known brands already in that space, options like TiVo and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox.

The OTT space, meanwhile, remains dominated by Roku—which so far has sold some 5 million units—and heavyweight Apple, which sold that many Apple TVs in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone.”

Perhaps the acquiring company can think of some better use for Boxee’s product or simply improve and build on what Boxee has now.  Either way, the company’s higher-ups will have a lot of work to do if they mean to bring Boxee into the spotlight.

Apple TV Adds HBOGO and WatchESPN

hero_appletv_2ndgenApple has given potential cord-cutters two more reasons to consider ditching their cable subscriptions. After expending much effort, Apple TV has finalized a partnership with TV and movie giant HBO, and also with sports network ESPN, as both of the their online streaming platforms (HBO GO and WatchESPN) will now be featured on the popular OTT device alongside Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, and others. This new partnership expands Apple’s potential customer base. 

The Apple TV device uses the iOS operating system and can beam both networks to Apple TV via AirPlay.

Apple TV also joined forces with Britain’s Sky News and Crunchyroll, which streams East Asian media.  Explicitly appealing to an international audience will only further entrench Apple TV’s position as the market’s top-selling media streaming device. Apple TV sold more units in the first quarter of 2012 that it’s fiercest competitor, Roku’s all-time total sales of 5m+ devices.

Apple TV’s recent developments highlight the continued growth of OTT, as customers are increasingly provided with more content and options.

Referenced from Tech Crunch and The Convergence.