The new Apple TV living room set-top box will go on sale next week, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Monday.
Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference in San Francisco, Cook said that Apple’s new device will lay “the foundation of the future of TV.”
It will be the fourth-generation Apple TV set-top box, but is a marked departure from previous iterations. This time around, the Cupertino company is throwing the doors open to app developers — hoping that an ecosystem will develop that makes it a must-have device, similar to how the strength of the iPhone rests on its incredibly rich third-party apps.
The controller of the Apple TV has been revamped accordingly. It now features a touch-sensitive pad, as well as motion-tracking. It can be used as a games controller — and when Apple unveiled the new Apple TV for the first time at its September event, it demoed it being used as exactly that.
Apple’s vision is, put simply, an end to linear TV. Viewers will no longer have to watch whatever is scheduled: They will choose exactly what they want at any given time. The rise of streaming services like Netflix arguably shows the appetite is there for this.
“Linear TV has been on an amazing 50-year run,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on the company’s April earnings call. “Internet TV is starting to grow. Clearly over the next 20 years internet TV is going to replace linear TV. And so I think everyone is scrambling to figure out how do they do great apps … That will just keep getting built up and so it’s a transition into figuring out the internet. And the way people do that is to get involved with us, with our competitors to try to start to learn what are the new patterns and modalities because internet TV is the way that people will consume video in the future.”
Apps will include premium content services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Showtime, and Apple is also apparently looking into developing its own original programming, according to a report from Variety in August. Siri — Apple’s virtual, voice-controlled assistant — will help to pull it all together, letting users search for content using only their voice.
Speaking on Monday, Cook doubled down on this approach. “This [linear] model has outlived its usefulness,” he told the audience. “Apps are the future.”
With Apple TV going on sale next Monday, we’ll soon know if he’s right.