From a Windows Lifer: Yup, Apple’s Going to Make TV Better

By Andrew Waber, (@letspercolate)

Trying to accurately capture the future of media consumption is a dangerous exercise. Google TV and its seamless merging of online and broadcast content was filled with so much promise when it debuted in 2010. Being able to search for and watch the latest episode of your favorite “Real Housewives,” while simultaneously seeing associated clips and episodes from online outlets is pretty cool. Yet, the platform has floundered largely because TV networks pushed back on this more open model of TV viewing.

Google TV as we know it is unlikely to stay away for good, but with broadcasters and cable operators holding the best cards on the table (i.e. video content and network access, respectively) they are the players in the best position to do cool things. Plus, there’s been one device in particular that, for the past year, has made them proverbially wide eyed. No surprise here – it’s the iPad.

Already we’re seeing a change: Time Warner Cable streaming live TV to customers’ iPads inside their homes. Cablevision migrating nearly their full video offering to their iPad app, video on-demand included. However, both companies are fighting broadcaster backlash as Fox, Discovery and others don’t believe this streaming is akin to another television in the home, but something so important that it requires separate negotiations. However, the wheels have irrevocably been set in motion. TV on tablets is happening.

This is true even for the biggest companies out there. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts clearly advocated the iPad as the future of cable during a keynote at an industry conference in March. Roberts called the space between the wireless router and tablet as the “last foot” of connectivity within the home, and where operators like Comcast can really make progress.

What makes this exciting are how these applications and their integration with the internet could change the way you and I interact with video content. You see a recipe you like while watching Good Eats on the Food Network? Click once and it’s migrated to your tablet to bring into the kitchen. A project on DIY Network that you actually want to do for yourself? A tap brings up the list of materials used and web links to buy or research them online.

As the title says, I’m admittedly Apple averse. I still don’t have, nor want an iPod. Yes, I know, this is seemingly unconscionable for a music lover. But in spite of my loose allegiance I can’t help but be impressed with how this device is spurring a reevaluation of TV as we know it. We’ll see what comes next!

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