Lessons from the Wii for IPTV

From today’s Boston Globe:

Sony’s long-awaited PlayStation 3 may have missed its global shipment target and been beaten in its home market by rival Nintendo’s surprise hit Wii video game system, new figures show.

We bought the kids the PS3 for Christmas, but couldn’t get our hands on the Wii. It was sold out and I stubbornly refuse to camp out Soviet-style for consumer goods – an act right up there in my book with waiting in line to eat at a chain restaurant.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a Forrester analyst to figure out why the Wii’s such a hit. It’s easy to use. NFL Madden ’07 on the PS3 takes dozens of hours to master. Wii bowling takes about three minutes.

This is something Apple gets. Real people don’t care about tech specs. The Zens and Zunes have more storage and more features at a lower price point than the iPod. The iPod is elegant. The Zen isn’t. The Zune comes in brown. The Wii’s graphics can’t compare to the PS3, but who cares? The Wii is fun right out of the box.
This is something analysts with their inherently left-brain view of the world are blind to. Apple TV won’t work because Microsoft has had Media Center PCs out for years that do the same thing.

From a different article in today’s Globe:

However, analyst Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research was skeptical about Apple TV’s prospects. “I think the challenge here is that people don’t generally buy a separate set top box unless it has an incredible capability,” Bernoff said. Merely relaying Internet music and movie downloads probably won’t be enough to make Apple TV a hit, he said.

He’s wrong. Apple TV might not be a hit, but it’s not as simple as that. A lot of people don’t want to add another set top box because they are 1) ugly and 2) confusing. Home theaters these days are also style statements. That sleek little Apple TV box looks pretty sweet compared to most everything else hanging off the back of modern TVs. Not too many wires, and a dirt simple (though easily lost) remote. Add to that the Front Row-like Apple TV software and you have a hit. Notice how Apple features large images of the back of the box on its site.
Apple TV connections

If Apple TV doesn’t take off, it’s more likely due to the lack of decent home WiFi networks – which are still a pain for the average person to set up. Or it’s due to something easier coming along. Or maybe the cost of content via iTunes is perceived as too high.

But getting all that great music from my PC to my home stereo without using the iPod as an expensive sneakernet conduit, that’s useful. The fact that iTunes can load most any QuickTime MPEG-4 content into its library… well that’s a whole new world for distributing podcasts. Let’s see what Brightcove‘s repsonse is.

Simplicity and freedom from hated cable company and satellite services is one hell of a selling point to a lot of people. Something a geeky analyst isn’t likely to get.

2 Thoughts on “Lessons from the Wii for IPTV

  1. I have to agree here Frank. I never seriously considered any media solution before appleTV, but I’m planning on buying one for my home immediately. And that’s just as an Apple lover, not because I’m a “TV industry guy.”

    I’m also planning on buying them for my clients and setting it up so they can watch my QT approvals on a regular TV.

    I don’t think the form factor is a factor in sales. The cool thing is that you can actually “bury” the thing where you can’t even see it. I guess you need to be able to “hit” it with your remote though.

    I recently hooked up my new iMac in the kitchen to the home stereo using the Linksys wireless system in my house and one of those little remote Airport thingees. It took about 45 seconds to set up and I was playing music from my computer to remote speakers throughout the house. That, as much as anthing, convinced me of appleTV’s usefulness and ease of use. I have two other friends that aren’t even big Mac lovers who have the same set-up in their homes for listening to iTunes through their home stereos. They are not tech gurus and they did it. Apple just makes it so easy.

  2. We’re currently looking into making Xprove work with Apple TV. We’d love your feedback. If you or any other readers need a n Xprove account for testing, let me know.

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