Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Macworld 2007 - iTV, what it could be

Macworld 2007 is coming next week. Steve Jobs is slated to give keynote on the 9th. Going to be a humdinger if Apple's site is to be believed.

I am ready. Wow me, Apple. Go beyond the press hype. I hope you've sowed some disinformation out there that sounds incredible, but pales to what you'll actually unveil. Why misinformation? So I'm not depressed when the press once again over-hypes the event and I feel let down by the keynote because it didn't live up to expectations.

What will impress me? Well, a Mac Tablet of sorts, that'd be über-swell. iPhone/iMobile, or whatever iPod/phone/PDA combo would be fine, but I'm personally gung-ho for the tablet, whether it's a new convertible notebook or, better yet, designed like the iMac, an all-in-one unit. Go to town, Mr. Ives.

As for the expected: Leopard is coming, as well as iTV, the latter of which, only appeals to me on a wow-factor level. See, I pay a bundle price right now for cable - phone/internet/digital cable. That package includes a decent-but-no-TiVo DVR which does HDTV via HDMI. I pay a handsome ransom for that bundle and I don't really want to have to buy an Apple device that provides some of the same things, but does so from my Mac (which does not have a TV tuner by the way - what's up with that?) and not from the cable signal.

See, iTV is one of those areas where I hope to be super-wowed. It has to go beyond and provide me value that supersedes, not just compliments my cable company. If iTV is a one-time charge, and works seamlessly with all things, that's great. But I suspect the truth is more like Steve's teaser demo last year - I'll be purchasing movies/music/TV from the iTunes Store, a new Airport 802.11 N at an exorbitant price, and a larger hard drive to house all this digital information.

That's money I don't have. I did not join the iPod generation(s) but I have purchased from the iTunes Store - less than 100 songs, TV shows. Not sure where I'm going with that... I suppose I'm just trying to say that I've used and will continue to use the iTS for some things.

So to stray just a little, remember the call for a la carte cable? I think it's still on the table, but this is where you and I can purchase, say, PBS Kids, Discovery HD, CNN Headline News, Food Network, Animal Planet, Sci-Fi Channel, Spike, etc., individually as opposed to part of a package deal. We buy only the channels we want. I like this idea. I am pretty certain this idea is going to be more pricey than the package deals, but if it brings peace of mind and keeps out the stuff we don't want, then for some it will be worth the extra money.

The iTunes Store is sort-of like this, but more granular. It's a la cart for shows, and that's just too expensive. See, I'm thinking a la carte cable will be priced at $2-3 per month per channel, in addition to a basic cable charge. But I will get a full season of the now available ST: Voyager on Spike as opposed to plopping down $1.99 PER SHOW on iTS (huh, no Voyager on iTS? ... you get my point).

So if this is Apple's alternative with iTV, I'll not be too impressed. However, if all new Macs will have TV built in - with HDTV capabilities, please - then it is a different story. Try this: what if iTV will have either built-in or as an add on, the capability to broadcast your digital cable signal over the expensive Airport 802.11 N to your Macs (including the tablet) around your house. Now that would be cool. Include in each Mac with Leopard the ability to DVR, too. Now that is something that will trump all other cards including a no-show iPhone, IMHO. But once again, I think Wall St. and the iPod generations want the phone more than anything else.

And I suppose the regulations and hurdles Apple would have to jump through would make this nigh impossible. But just as the music companies are beginning to see the light, perhaps Apple will have the chutzpah to change TV as we know it like they changed tunes.

Ah, whatever. I'll probably nuke some popcorn and enjoy the show. I hope it's streamed live.