Apple has updated the software for its Apple TV set-top box to version 3.0. It looks pretty, but dull.
The update does NOT include any outside content, it appears, such as streaming video from Netflix, MLB, Hulu, TV networks, or other Web video sources. And it does not offer any sort of “app store” model, where third-party developers could put their wares on Apple TV.
This is not surprising, but it limits how useful the upgrade will be — and it’s not about to electrify Apple TV sales, which are likely very low. (No. 297 on Amazon’s best-selling electronics list, despite a price cut earlier this year.)
Instead, Apple has focused on improving the design of its existing service, and including support for things like iTunes Extras and iTunes LP, the multimedia “album” format it introduced earlier this year.
Not enough. As we said in September:
Apple needs to make major changes to the Apple TV’s software and platform. That could include some or all of these options:
- Opening Apple TV up to all Web video content, whether Apple controls it or not. (Rival Roku is heading in this direction with its $99 box.)
- Making iTunes a better video service; perhaps offering more subscription options than simply whole seasons of individual shows.
- Adding a Blu-ray player to Apple TV so it could replace an existing port on peoples’ TVs, not take up a new one.
- Establishing an App Store for Apple TV, so that companies could offer video services, games, other apps, hardware accessories, etc., the way they do on the iPhone.
But Apple hasn’t made any substantive changes to the platform in more than a year and a half. Eventually, it will have to do something. Even at $229, the Apple TV remains an expensive device with a very limited feature set. That’s why it’s been unpopular with consumers and why Apple has to excuse it as a “hobby” on earnings calls.