I wasn’t exactly an early adopter, but I have had an Apple TV for a couple of years. I never used it as much as I wanted to, but found that it was great for watching TV shows sans commercials and the occasional movie rental. I didn’t do much with it for photo and audio purposes.
When the new version of the iPad OS launched, I was most excited for AirPlay. I wanted to watch movies and shows I had on my iPad on my Apple TV. I was pretty ticked off to find out that night that AirPlay would only work for new generation Apple TVs, ones without a hard drive and only capable of streaming content. I was so ticked off that Apple wouldn’t include AirPlay for us old Apple TV owners that I vowed not to get a new Apple TV, even if though it was priced relatively low by Apple standards.
Well a month or so goes by and my righteous indignation has worn off. I decided to buy a new Apple TV, in part for higher quality streaming HD movie rentals, but more because I want to be able to stream Netflix onto my TV with ease. The Netflix streaming selection isn’t that great now, but I’ve already paid for it and it will surely improve over time.
What I hadn’t counted on was that Apple’s HD rental market is substantially smaller than their download to own market. The number of TV shows viewable on the new Apple TV is a fraction of what is currently in iTunes. Again, I end up miffed at the quality of product Apple is offering loyal customers.
I like the movement away from ownership of digital media towards streaming, on demand rental. It is probably cheaper in the long run and reduces the amount of stuff I have. I look at my collection of about 100 DVDs next to my TV and think, “What in God’s name am I going to do with that crap?” Until I get off my butt and burn it all to a hard drive, I’m going to be stuck with it just taking up space. So in some regard, I appreciate Apple’s move towards streaming only with the Apple TV. But if you’re going to do that, you must provide your customers with the same volume of product to choose from as you do for download and sale. Why? For no other reason than you just took away Apple TV customers’ ability to buy product for downlad. I was perfectly fine having a device that gave me the choice between renting and owning content. Apple took that choice away from me, but didn’t up the volume in a meaningful way for rental content. That reeks of FAIL. I don’t really care what the underlying contractual reasons with film companies and TV studios is. If you’re not there from a legal side, don’t limit yourself on the hardware side.
Here’s my prediction: by the time Apple gets their new, Apple TV specific iTunes rental volume up to snuff, there will be either another Apple TV product that is somehow better or competitors will have offered a killer alternative to Apple TV. In the end, I guess I’m just a sucker for continuing to be a fan of Apple’s technology products, even as they treat me worse and worse as a customer.