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TV market poses new challenges to Apple TV

Posted: 08 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share


4. Then, what determines the success of a DMA box?

In Kingston's mind, the DMA category as a whole has been successful because it's achieved four things: 1) It allows users to decouple the TV display from the TV's smarts; 2) It allows users to consume premium online media on their TV sets; 3) It wraps the above within a simple, well-executed UI and user-experience; and 4) It does all of this cheaply.

5. What will Apple do differently to win the DMA category?


Gaming, more apps, an open SDK, voice and gesture input, Home Kit, Siri' that's all great, said Kingston. But ultimately, "none of it matters," he said.

"These provide Apple with feature parity, and taken together, will increase incrementally the device's addressable market, but nothing more." He called these features "bells and whistles," that are essentially "distractions."

The [DMA] market, in Kingston's view, will be won on "a simple, well-executed user interface and user-experience."

After all, Apple TV already allows users to decouple the display from its smarts, and allows users to consume high-value online media on the large, living-room set. The rumoured price range equates to a 50-100 per cent premium over equivalent devices, he said. "Given this, Apple has to rely on its user-experience prowess to tip the scales in its direction."

6. What's missing from today's DMA boxes?

Given Apple's prowess in U.I. technology, this makes sense. But what are the missing elements in today's DMA boxes, like Roku, Fire TV and Chromecast?

Doherty said the missing pieces are "ease of use, setup, customisation for family members."

Further, one of the reasons those boxes have not been able to get away from horizontal grid guides is, Doherty said, that "navigation has to be fair to the different content providers, according to the Hollywood contracts." At least on such grid guides, everybody looks equal, but it isn't exactly the most attractive UI either.

Kingston pointed out, "DMAs do two things terribly. Their implementations of universal search leave much to be desired. Their implementations of machine-driven recommendations are equally weak."


Today, Roku splits content into different silos, organised by service providers, in its UI.

7. In search of effective 'Universal Search'

Navigation is the crux. We get that. But how do you expect Apple to do "universal search" effectively?

"Universal search does not mean a method for searching across 'usual suspects' Netflix, Amazon and YouTube from a single field," said Kingston. Rather, he hopes that Apple will invest enough to go deeper to the metadata level for content, so that viewers can do a full-blown search.

In other words, "With a focused effort to invest in the requisite metadata, Apple is in a position to turn today's DMA experience into a deeply searchable, coherent whole." In contrast, today's DMA only offers "search" that revolves around island-universes of different applications, he noted.

Amazon's Fire TV

Instead of organizing content by provider (that's what today's Apple TV and Roku are doing), Amazon's Fire TV makes a stab at a more encompassing interface. Recent movies, TV shows and apps are listed chronologically.

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