Apple CEO Tim Cook put it best when he said, “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.”
Cook isn’t the only person in tech that feels that way. Which is why nearly every single tech company from Apple to Google to Microsoft to Amazon to TiVo has tried in a variety of ways to disrupt the tv business. None of them have really made much of a dent yet.
If you like TV, you’re probably still a cable subscriber and you’re dealing with one of the crappiest user interfaces/user experiences on the planet. You’re also likely to be paying an astronomical monthly bill.
Understandably, you’re probably rooting for one of these tech companies to blow up the TV business, with some sort of a la carte channel options. Before you get too excited though, we recommend you watch this video.
It’s Steve Jobs in 1998 talking about why people watch TV. And we think it’s still the single best thing to hear to get an idea about what an Apple TV could look like. Below the video is a quick transcript of what he says.
Basically, the idea of a PC and a TV converging into one product is lunacy because they are two totally different products. A TV with with the perks of a PC — better interfaces, better searching — is more likely.
And here’s a loose transcription of his conversation: “Your television is going to make toast. What is the most successful consumer product in the last 10 years? It’s the PC. Here’s all these PC companies running around looking for a consumer product when that’s what they make! Right?
It’s the most successful consumer product of the last 10 years, so naturally we want to combine it with the television. I’ve spent enough time in entertainment now with Pixar, and with Disney, who’s just a terrific company to work with, by the way, is that people go to their television primarily to turn their brain off. I used to think like many of you might have thought that there was this giant conspiracy from the networks to but mediocrity on television and dumb us down, did you ever think that? I thought that. It thought that was giant conspiracy to rob the American populace of their mind if not their soul. I then found out the truth which is far more depressing. The networks give people precisely what they want. The reason people want this stuff. They come home from a long day. They have dinner with their kids and they’re fighting and they get them into bed and they just want to turn their brain off for half an hour. Do you ever do that? I mean, I must admit I don’t watch much TV, but I can admit I will turn on the TV for a half hour, and it really does turn your brain off. People got to their TV to turn their brain off. People go to their PC to turn their brain on. These things aren’t going to be together, they perform completely separate functions. So I think it’s as crazy as other combinations you can imagine. And I don’t think it’s going to happen, you know.
I also think people want to interact with their computers. Keyboards, mice, up close better resolutions, they want to sit back from their televisions. Web TV has been an utter failure so far, so I just don’t see it happening. Now, sure, everybody would like a better online TV guide, ok. Sony should build in an online TV guide to their TV sets, I grant you that. But is this digital convergence? So, that’s what I think of it.”