updated 08:40 pm EDT, Mon October 24, 2011
Apple TV set may use key iPod dev to head project
Apple's now hinted-at TV set is being headed up by one of its most experienced engineers, sources claimed Monday. The team involved is supposed by Bloomberg to be headed up by Jeff Robbin, who helped create the iPod and the iTunes Store. He was deemed so valuable to the late Steve Jobs that the CEO wouldn't let a Time reporter get his name lest he be recruited away.
While Jobs had left only a hint that he had "finally cracked" the problems of making a truly intuitive TV interface, additional contacts might have given clues as to what that might involve. The new interface would help get rid of the silos between services and let users search for content regardless of the source, letting users find content on iTunes, on a competing bundled service like Netflix, or even traditional TV, tipsters said.
While a simple description, it describes a system similar to Google TV, albeit with a deeper media ecosystem. Users of the Android-based TV system can find content just through a generic search. It's currently limited to the web and TV, although the upcoming Android 3.1-based Google TV update could integrate third-party apps. Google TV has so far failed in the market, although this was partly through a bad assumption that studios wouldn't object to its visiting their websites; most majors blocked Google TV's browser and neutered its one advantage for mainstream content.
The TV project may be one of the longer projects at Apple, although its start has never been clearly defined. Signs have emerged in the past year that it's been getting serious as it licensed Rovi technology normally oriented towards TV guides. Repeated rumors have also surfaced of an iTunes video subscription service that would give users a block of TV show downloads at a discount.
Apple has always hinted that its Apple TV media hub was the groundwork for something larger. During fiscal results calls, Jobs and other executives have called it a "hobby" in the same space as mentioning that there "was something there." Jobs also said at the D8 show that one of the obstacles was having to buy a separate box in a hegemony of cable and satellite set-tops; a TV would be an end-run around providers and could help those who want to cut cords.