Is AirPlay the App Store for the Apple TV?

Leading up to the launch of the Apple TV 2 there were rampant reports that the Apple TV would get iOS and its own App Store. At the time it only seemed natural that Apple would make such a move — netting more revenue for the Apple TV “hobby”. With a $99 price tag it seems like the Apple TV would be a loss leader for the company and perhaps an App Store would be the way to make up for such a loss. Perhaps, but does it really makes sense?

They way I see it there are two possible types of apps that could be useful on the Apple TV:

  1. Games
  2. Streaming Apps (be it video, audio, or other)

I don’t see much need for any other type of app, but just for shits and giggles I admit that somebody somewhere probably really wants to see OmniFocus on their 100” TV. I don’t.

I also don’t see a need of any sort for any apps to make their way to the Apple TV, again there are two reasons why:

Lack of a Good Controller

This mainly applies to games and any apps that you would need to input text into, but any Apple TV owner knows that the remote is only good for navigating menus or hitting play/pause. I doubt that someone can make a compelling game that uses an infrared remote to control it.

Angry Birds and Flight Control for instance would be nothing short of a nightmare with this type of controller as the interface to those games. Part of the reason games are so great on an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch is because you have multi-touch control coupled with accelerometers and gyroscopic controls. You just don’t get that with a little remote like the one paired with Apple TV.

Yes you could set it up so that you would use your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch as the controller, but then that brings me to the next point…

AirPlay

Wouldn’t you just prefer to go the ‘two for one’ route and use AirPlay to route the video to the Apple TV? That is wouldn’t it just be easier to enable AirPlay on the Hulu iPad app than it would be to recode something for the Apple TV? Doing this would solve the crappy controller problem, and not cause the customer to download/pay for two apps all while reducing the strain on your companies mobile software development. This seems like a win-win scenario for everyone.

It becomes even more of a no brainer for games too — just look at something like The Incident, where the TV becomes the screen and your iWhatever becomes the controller. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than putting an actual app store on the Apple TV would?

Essentially a game developer could turn the pairing of the Apple TV and iPhone/iPod touch into the Wii — which has seen mild success. 1

No Sense, None

From a consumer perspective I can’t see any reason why one would want an app store for the Apple TV — unless said consumer doesn’t own a proper iOS device. From a developer and Apple perspective the only reason I can see is monetary and I just don’t think Apple is as motivated by monetary means as others do. I think Apple sees this the same way I do: there is just no good way to deliver a consistently good experience with an app made by a 3rd party for the Apple TV.

There is a reason NetFlix is packaged with the Apple TV: Apple wanted to control the UI and knew this was the only way to control that aspect.

  1. I, of course, know it is a huge success — no emails needed.
Originally posted for members on: January 26, 2011
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