No thank you Mr Jobs

apple tv
Originally uploaded by Brian E. Ford

Following weeks of speculation, last week’s Apple event saw the release of a swathe of new, predictable, iPods, an update to the iOSx software for iPhones, and a hardware update to the Apple TV. As an owner of both iPhone and Apple TV, I watched with interest.

Steve Jobs informed a worldwide audience that changes to hardware and software were all customer driven. “We’ve listened” he said and unveiled the new system.

But whoever they listened to were not the right people and they’ve created a device which is curiously impractical. Design lines aside, its rather un Apple.

My current Apple TV gets great use within a suite of home cinema gear. Whilst I have a CD player, I’ve not used it for years preferring the simplicity of playing music digitally through my ATV. All our digital photos are loaded there too playing on our TV as a screensaver. We love it – it means we enjoy our photos rather than have them sit on hard drives elsewhere in the house. We’re subscribers to LoveFilm and owners of some nice AV gear and so we prefer to rent Blu-Rays rather than download via the Apple TV.

But whoever it was that Apple listened to are not using their device like me. Those users seem to be movie consumers for whom music and photos are a peripheral use. The new hardware is perfect as a personal Blockbusters but ill-conceived as vehicle for personal media because Apple have not considered broadband and wifi in real people’s homes.

The new Apple TV will let me play my music and play my songs but without any local storage of these files, insists that do this via streaming. This means that my wifi network needs to be strong and robust throughout my house (it’s three storeys and made of stone and brick, wifi can be dodgy) and also requires me to keep the file source online at the same time. The new device is then worse at doing what I would primarily use it for and, sadly, would use more energy whilst doing it.

And what of the movie-watching crowd that Apple listened to – will they be happy? Cheaper film rental prices will be very welcome, but only those in cities will really be able to take advantage as bandwidth is swallowed when downloading. If you’re in the sticks, I suspect streaming is just impossible.

What I hoped for from the new Apple TV was more storage (maybe a terabyte). I hoped for a better UI, I hoped for connection to Lovefilm, I hoped for apps and I hoped that my iPad would be the new super remote.

So Mr Jobs, it’s a no. I won’t be upgrading to a retrograde piece of kit and I’m disappointed that those early forgiving customers that bought into your hobby are rewarded with functioning but now defunct gear. If you want to listen, I’m ready to talk.