Apple has long called their set-top box a “hobby project.” In 2010, Steve Jobs insisted there wasn’t a viable market for the product, citing the fragmented nature of television hardware and cable providers.
Since then, television has evolved in remarkable ways: virtually every channel has a streaming option, Netflix and Amazon are celebrating their Emmys and TV shows are being produced at Hollywood quality.
Now the Apple-sphere is buzzing about an upcoming media event that could introduce a long-overdue Apple TV upgrade. A September 9th announcement is expected to reveal a new hardware design, a fresh take on a touch-based remote, and most notably the full power of the App Store. This would enable Apple’s passionate and talented iOS developer community to innovate the television experience for hundreds of millions of users who embrace Apple’s ecosystem. The impact would be felt across a variety of industries including gaming, entertainment, eCommerce, food delivery and home automation.
Imagine this: You’re a resident of a luxury high-rise building and while you’re watching TV, your building’s personalized TV app notifies you that a guest is waiting at the front desk. Then you pull up a live feed of the lobby camera, verify who it is and authorize entry from your remote. Or maybe you’re feeling motivated, and you check the fitness center channel to see if your favorite machine is free. While you’re at it, you might reserve the service elevator for your furniture delivery, view and pay your account balance and submit a work order request—all through your TV.
Phunware has long been a leader in luxury high-rise technology, enabling residents to engage with the building they live in through mobile apps. With the App Store on Apple TV, residential real estate developers and property managers will be able to offer the level of in-unit service offered by the hospitality industry without the infrastructure cost.
Nobody really knows what Apple will announce on September 9th. A major upgrade had already been predicted for WWDC 2015 in June, and several times prior to that. Apple has been vocal about the difficulty of wrangling content providers, an important part of their TV strategy. But the introduction of the App Store on Apple TV is not impacted by this difficulty, and a recent sighting of a TVKit SDK in xCode, Apple’s development environment, is a promising sign. A big-screen App Store experience may soon be coming to a a living room near you, and I for one am excited for the possibilities.